I decided to add a recount of my participation in the Thames Trot Ultra organised by gobeyond (http://gobeyondultra.co.uk/events/thames_trot_ultra_2013) from earlier this year, sadly I have signed up for 2014.
I decided to participate (not race) in a charity slot, in the Thames Trot Ultra while raising funds for the The Cure Parkinson’s Trust after being offered a very healthy boost towards the TCPT to get me started with my fundraising. Typically each year I try make at least one fund raising effort for a worth while cause. While I have never yet *raced* a marathon, I am comfortable running twenty plus miles. I guess the thought of throwing the kitchen sink at a stand alone long run has yet to appeal. But the ultra as a long run forming part of a journey absorbing the sights with camraderie certainly appealed to me.
I consider myself moderately fit and certainly not a gifted runner, but I nonetheless decided to make no exceptions from my planned training schedule for the year targetted at middle distance/half ironman events. This may seem foolish, or even hell bent, however I was concerned that six months before the event I was already too late to safely increase my long training run distance to the advised levels, never mind within three months I had available. I was very worried about injury as a consequence of ramping up my run distance too quickly as well as of the loss of focus from my targets for 2013.
This year the thames valley is severely flooded as the Thames is bursting it’s bank. The Thames Path, the intended route for the run was mostly below water (50% of the course allegedly). As a result the organisers rerouted most of the course onto tar. This I wasn’t against since I am a fairly rubbish mud trail runner. But please do realise being held in February mud trails and cold is to be expected for any trail event. I believe in 2012 runners were finishing the race in snow. The sections of the Thames path that were considered passable were at times knee deep in strong flowing cold(!) water, there was many a fight uphill against a slippery mud trail. Again for my part I went slightly against the grain in my five fingers, which coped well, despite looks of disapproval at the start.
I think GoBeyond organised a great event, with a well documented mapped route (supplied), well staffed and well provioned checkpoints (water, gels, fruitcake, crisps etc). It is worth noting that being a trail ultra that one should not expect marshals at each junction, do expect to study a map, or review course instructions, and if you are well supplied possibly refer to a GPS navigator. Apparently this stuff is all the norm. In this years event not being able to follow the river down do the finish did complicate things somewhat over what I had orginally envisaged being able to cope with.
After 40km I was comfortably in the pain cave and that was pretty much where I stayed until the race end. Now, having digested the event I am firmly of the opinion the anyone can do an ultra pysically it is not that big a deal, it’s purely a mind game. I feel like I had a bit of outside help however since motoman Mark(DK) was waiting for me in Reading to accompany over a kilometer or so (thanks Mark).
For any aspring triathlete considering this event, I suggest to not worry too much about waistpouches, water bottles, camelpacks, backpacks etc. The checkpoints are sufficeintly nearby for this not to be an issue. I think many of the runners were overladen, and would personally suggest a minimalist approach. Concerned more about necessary equipment e.g. lighting, compass, clothing.
So yeah I get it now, go ultra 🙂 it’s definitely an experience. Who knows maybe I will consider an ultraman next??? .. nah!
(photo’s still coming)