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“I laughed til I wee’d”

Race Review: The Winter Railway Ultra

An Ultra! I ran an Ultra!

Honestly, I feel iffy about calling it an Ultra…it was spot on 28 miles, technically Ultramarathon distance. But it isn’t the distance that makes me proud of my accomplishment, it’s what I went through over those 6 hours or so.

Ultra hard. Ultra hilly. Ultra muddy. Ultra cold. Ultra shitty camber. Ultra knackered.

After the Big Bear Challenge and it’s 3.3 mile laps, I proclaimed that laps are the future. But what about 6 x 4.5 mile laps…..or 3 x 9 mile laps? That is what we faced on this occasion.

The Winter Railway Ultra was hosted by How Hard Can It Be Events, with an out and back route along the banks of the River Severn between Ironbridge and Bridgnorth along a disused railway line. It was the hardest running event I’ve ever participated in. It was everything that’s hard: mud, stones, potholes, the worst camber, steady downhill, followed by steady uphill. It was chilly with bright sunshine though, my favourite.

It was beautiful. Along the river out towards a stunning winter sunshiney sky; spotting cute houses in the distance and taking a peek at old railway stations now refurbished as cottages. (I want one!)

My trusty running sidekick, Lisa K, was by my side and didn’t leave, as ever is our pact on these insane jaunts we find ourselves on. We chatted and batted our usual inaccurate runners maths between us, calculating what pace we would need to do to finish before the cut off, and agreed that we would do 5 laps at our usual long run pace, and then piss around on the last lap and take photos.

I had my usual energy slump around halfway, and then eventually got a second wind. I am still not getting something right with fuelling, after 3 years of running. I get a really bad downer on myself around the 14 mile mark, and just want to sit down. I took 3 gels and a few snacky bits such as flapjack during this event, is this not enough? Should I be increasing the number of gels? Eating food doesn’t seem to give me enough of a boost, it stops my stomach growling, but doesn’t give me energy. It doesn’t help that sweet things make me feel sick if I am not careful.

There was a food station at each end, where coffee was available but for £1 a cup, I wasn’t feeling that.

We amused ourselves by sharing stories, some of them a bit risque for this blog, and the miles ticked by. Then, on the last lap, spurred on by the worry of being last, we picked up the pace. For the first time ever we experienced the kind of delirium you hear about runners encountering on long distance runs. For the last 3 miles we just laughed. We laughed and laughed and laughed until I pretty much wet myself, getting to a tree just in time. The laughter continued after receiving our (very nice) medals, through the hour drive home (via tea and chips at the services). It was like being hammered, but better. Was it euphoria? Was it because the alternative was to cry at the various aching bits of our bodies(which we listed, whilst laughing)?

I laughed at the “straigthness” of these trees for a long time
Ultra birds!

So, there we have it, my first Ultra, in training for the big one, the Coventry Way 40 miler in April.