I felt I had a podium performance in my legs and in any other year I’d have been there!
This is my local race, I’ve only missed it once when I marshaled last year and I’ve done a couple of the 30 milers [2013, 2014 reports] and the 100 [report]. This year it was back to the 30 and as I’m familiar with the route and terrain I know when and how to pace this one so I felt looking at the course record times over the years I might have it in me to possibly run the second fastest time (would need to be sub 4:17 – the CR was 4:05 which was out of my league).
This one is a tricky course because it’s about 65% road / 35% trail with some muddy bits in there but this year I went with road shoes unlike past races because I figured I could tolerate the lack of grip on the muddy bits in exchange for significantly more comfort and speed on the longer road sections and despite rain the night before, I’m happy I made that choice.
Nothing specific for this race having done the 24hr Self Transcendence race 2 months earlier, my aim was just to tick over around 50-70 miles a week and see how it went. My legs felt OK after a week of rest following that race which didn’t go to plan so I wanted a bit of redemption here too!
The weather was perfect – cold but dry and for us on the shorter races held out through the day so no big concerns about kit really and as everyone lined up at the new race HQ (the best location yet) the short race brief was done, the hooter hooted and we shot off up the hill onto Manchester road at a crazy pace as is usual at the start of ultras.
The climbing begins after less than a mile and there’s not much let up for the next 5 until you hit the top of Wessenden Trail and CP1 at about 6.5 miles.
It’s a tough start to the race with somewhere in the region of a third of the elevation gain done in 5 miles. I pushed at a reasonable effort level but had little choice but to let a few of the early pace setters go already. I had a pace plan and know the course inside out so ran up to CP1 within myself somewhere inside the top 10 but not too bothered yet.
CP1 – CP2 is a nice undulating stretch with a good chunk of downhill and arriving at CP2 (around 10/11 miles) I was under course record pace and still somewhere in the lower half of the top 10 so either the field was exceptional this year or people were going to start blowing up over the next half!
I took on a Gu gel and topped up water quickly and carried on at a nice steady effort level as there’s a real beast of a climb once you get down to Manchester Road and have to head back up to Bolster Moor. I think it’s somewhere in the region of 350ft in a mile so just steep enough to justify a power walk for a bit!
The course between 15 and 25 miles is a series of shorter, sharp climbs and descents and a couple of decent flatter road sections between where you can pick up the pace and I’m happy that once past 20 miles this year (compared to 2014) I maintained a strong and comfortable pace and effort level.
Although I had no idea what position I was in at this point, I figured it must be somewhere around top 5 but I wasn’t too bothered – my goal was time related and I’d take whatever position came with it as it was clear by this point there were a couple of very quick guys ahead who weren’t going to break down at this point.
Running the last few miles into the finish I knew I was going to be inside my original 4:20 goal time and if I could pick it up a little there would be a chance of a 4:15 finish which I’d have been ecstatic with so I dug in on last savage climb up Plains (400ft in mile 29!) and then looped round the final mile and a bit back to the event center to cross the line for an official time of 4:14:53. A massive PB on this course and one of my best races I think.
I’ve mentioned it in other blog posts and once again had someone kindly say they read this blog (Michael who finished in front of me) and as a shy type it’s always nice to have someone say hello if they’ve read one of my posts or reports and thanks for reading.
If you’re looking to enter this race at some point and have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Next year? I’m pondering taking part in the TeamOA grand-slam of Red Rose Ultra/Kirklees Way Ultra and White Rose 100 again.