Cotswold 24hr Race
As I get older, I’ve seemed to end up trying to run further, rather than faster. Having run 100K over hilly stuff twice and a few other ultras, I wondered if I could do 100 miles in 24 hrs. Looking for possible races that were not too challenging in the terrain I found the Cotswold 24 hr race and entered it. My family come from round there so accommodation was on hand. I stayed at my brothers and had a good night’s sleep before the event, which was a luxury as normally I sleep in the car – or have to get up really early to drive to the start. He delivered me to Gatcombe Park, the country seat of Lady Bathurst who had graciously allowed us to run round her grounds. Lots of opportunities for polo were also available, but sadly I had to pass on them. There was a big tented village with loads of facilities and about 1000 people taking part – a bit of a circus. 110 people took on the race solo, but there were a lot of relay teams from pairs up to teams of 8. It was very well organised and friendly (luckily as it cost £85 to enter). I found a quiet bit of shade under a tree and got ready, packing a bags of food, clothes and stuff to keep me going. It was a 9 km circuit so we could restock every lap. High noon came and off we set for our first lap, on a route that was better than I thought it would be. It was a 9 km circuit through a mixture of undulating fields, woods and tarmac, in a parkland setting with a few romantic ruins and obelisks dotted about and no traffic. Unfortunately it was very warm and still for the first 8 hours and we all struggled in the heat. On about my 5th lap I felt very odd and wobbly and realised I was over heating so took it steady and managed to drag it back. Once it got dark at about 10.00 it was much cooler and easier to run in. You have to be very careful and maintain hydration whilst not drinking too much as you run the risk of washing the salts out of your body and thats very dodgy. I found it hard to eat enough in the heat and wish I’d taken more banana’s as they were good. It was great running in the cool of the night with loads of Owl calls as the sound track, things picked up a lot. As us solo runners plodded round doing the ultra-shuffle we were continually passed by relay whippets who were averaging faster lap times than my best. However I’d decided that I would review progress at midnight and see what my target would be. It had taken me around 12 hours to complete 10 x 9 km laps and lap times were growing as I slowed, so I realised that I was very unlikely to manage 100 miles, and changed my targets. I stopped running at about 4.30 am just as it was getting light having run 108 Km, further than I’ve ever run before and getting a 100k pb by 50 minutes. Very pleased to have achieved this and not bothered not to have got 100 miles in. I could have carried on walking, but thought it was better to be happy with this and not risk more damage. This left me with a bit of a problem, as Sally was not due to come and pick me up till Sunday lunchtime and I had nowhere to collapse. It was a dewy morning and very noisy in the runners village by the start and finish. However near to hand was an ancient folly with a long bench in it and I camped – or cramped there for a few hours. Wish I’d taken a sleeping bag and mat, but I managed to pass out for a bit. Sally picked me up at 10.00 and I retired to my sister’s house for an ibruprophin smoothie, shower and bed. I really enjoyed the race and was pleased with my results. There was an interesting mix of people in the race – a lot of tattoo’s and extreme challenge types, but mainly friendly. Some of them had heard of fell running, but many thought the course was rough and dangerous with too many potholes – and then it got dark! There was a good moon and I spent a lot of time running torch less which was good but not many others dared.
Great work Matt! A nice read...Just remember to hit that return button