Dukeries Ultra race report by UltraJacqui

Registration for the 40 mile runners started at 7am in a local sports/social hall. Mostly men doing this distance so no queuing for the ladies loo at all! Great friendly atmosphere which I was very glad of being up there on my own. The 30 milers started an hour later and I think that was a great idea to avoid too much congestion at the start.

Weather wise it was mostly around 12 degrees C, dry, it did rain for about 20 minutes in the middle but not too bad. Conditions underfoot were pretty much dry and the surfaces were shale, grass, muck, trail, paths, bark mulch stuff, some tarmac and concrete but thankfully not a lot.

An out and back for a few miles at the start down sandy trails through the woods. The field soon split and the hardcore racers vanished off n’er to be seen again. I ran on my own for about 12 miles but always keeping these two particular runners in sight in Sherwood Forest. That was fine though because they were taking walk breaks too so it didn’t muck up my pacing 🙂 I stopped to take a photo of the Major Oak, a bit of mistake as I got disorientated and had a little panic trying to catch up and catch sight of some runners again, but I turned out to be on the right route after all thank God. Beautiful trees but feck me they do all look alike when you’re in a strange place!

I then caught up with the two aforementioned runners as another runner had gotten totally lost, gone a few miles the wrong way and was asking them directions. We all consulted our maps, fixed the next point to look out for in our minds and set off together. I then ran with them till 24 miles, which was great as we chatted and the time passed and I didn’t hit any walls or want to stop.

So we stopped at the checkpoint at 24 miles for probably about 15 minutes, using the loo at the visitors centre and talking to the marshalls whilst eating bananas and filling up our water bladders. Tam was getting cold and eager to be off so she went (she finished in 8:24, the girl was on a mission!) and I stuck with Ian. I knew the pace Tam was going would blow me up eventually. Oh, I used an Ultimate Direction Wink hydration vest, have been running with it full (1.9litres water) on every single run for the last few weeks to get used to it. Highly recommend it girls! Some reviews complain about the bladder ‘leaking’ but it’s only if you don’t seal the top properly with the slideover thing. I was used to using one from my Inov8 so it worked perfectly for me.

Ian had a 310XT with the route on it and it beeped alerts so that took some of the mapreading pressure off (that stuff is HARD when you’re tired and getting mentally foggy) and at really confusing parts the RD had put arrows on the trees. We did miss one because we were chatting and blissfully sauntering on through the trees but the Garmin soon beeped and alerted us.

Fuelwise I couldn’t swallow the chia bars at all, minging (even though I’ve loved them in training and with a cup of tea for weeks now!), forced down 2 over a long distance, then switched to bananas at the checkpoints and hummus wraps. I should’ve eaten more but I’ll know for next time 🙂

Had a Rocky moment at 26.5 when I hit my ‘Furthest Distance Ever Run’ and then another at 30 because, well, why not!

After 30 miles is when it really started to hurt in a ‘oh fuck let’s run 400 metres then walk 400’ way. We slowed down at that point but were keeping an eye on the cut off time constantly and we knew we’d make it. The goal for both of us was to have a good day out and make it in before the cut off and that’s what we did.

The last 3 miles were through fields with hard rutted mud and concrete paths, they were fairly hard on the legs at that point, but we walked and chatted and turned the country air pretty much blue 🙂 Ian impressed me a lot with his humour and a ‘fuckshitwanktittyballs’ comment after breaking into a run after a walk break. Always good to find people on your wavelength 🙂

The finish was up a hill through the village, bollocks to running that! But we agreed to run the last bit once in view of Race HQ lol. Greeted by name at the entrance by the RD, then we had the best pints in the world ever along with pie, peas and gravy. I hugged my finishers t-shirt, very emotional moment finishing that. Loved it all. Great people, organisation, route, weather, experience. One for 2014 for sure 🙂