This race is important to me for many different personal reasons, one of them being when I finished in 2009 I had the most horrendous blisters and each step was agony –for 40 odd miles. I took the full allotted time to complete the 113 miles (nearly 36 hours) and I’ve wanted to put that run behind me and blast that time away since. A couple of months after that I found I had a stress fracture then broke the foot good and proper in the January. Come September (this race used to be at the end of september)I just ran 30 miles of the race to be part of it and then helped out (I’m now a friend of the race and part of Jon’s team).Then last year after breaking the foot another twice (yes that’s 4 in total) the RD gave me a free place to run what I felt without getting hurt. Determined not to break my foot again I had been super cautious and this time I ran 100 miles of it before a familiar soreness was evident in my foot and I decided to call it a day even though I knew I could just have walked it in and still been around 30 hours, (A good time for Hardmoors) but I wasn’t taking any risks with the foot ever again.
Up till the soreness the run had been sublime. I can’t tell you just how much I loved it and I wanted that feeling again. I used the rest of the year more or less the same way doing bits of what I had entered when I thought I was fixed as recce’s and experience for 2012.
So this year, make no mistake , this was an A race, along with an IM tri and Lakeland 100. My goals for 2012 are one, don’t break anything, two get my UTMB point ( I’m out of points now and need 7 from 3 races.) and three slowly spend the rest of the year enjoying my running, losing weight and getting fit again. I know I could have gone to get the points from easier 100’s but I do races I love.(and besides if you're aiming for stuff like UTMB why go for easier points? )
So I spent the previous 3 weeks tapering (for the first time ever! ) and helping out other races by marshalling the likes of the brilliant Cateran 56.
This isn’t exactly a chore as it’s a brilliant race and a fantastic party weekend. I only ran twice a week and very slowly at that. Come race day I felt good. I had friend KarenD (Cateran RD) down to do the race and her man George in support. We were both very excited and we just could not wait to run.
At 5pm on June 1st Jon Steele the RD set a bumper field of 50 odd on their way and we headed off towards the moors. I’m not a great fan of the first 20 miles and try and switch off a bit and not go to fast.I had a nice chat with Allen Rumbles who went on to record a great time unsupported. Funny enough it was Al’s time from two years ago I had in my head I could do. My loose idea was try and do a perfect split of 14 hours to the coast (56 miles) and 14 to the end (which is really about 113 miles).
Within 10 miles or so I was boiling hot. It had been quite cold at the start so I had put a slightly warmer top on and I thought this was the reason why. As 22 miles approached I came in to a CP & support point and I was dripping in sweat. Far more than usual even on a hot day which it wasn’t. My support Dave in fact was freezing. Usually here I would maybe just change a bottle over to make sure I had enough fluids but I drank loads including cans of coke which I just never do and changed my soaked through top.( i changed it 3 time in 54 miles when i hardly ever change a top usually)
Only 2.5 miles down the road I saw Dave again in the village of Osmotherly and much to his surprise I wanted more drink. I can’t remember what I drank but I couldn’t get enough. Jon went past asking if I was ok and I remarked I just could not get my body temperature right. (He later said he knew then I was ill). I had now drunk almost twice as much in 20 miles than I did on the whole 55 mile race (the first half of the Hardmoors course )I did in march. Still the proper hills start now. HM has about 20,000 ft of ascent in total and I love them. The climbs are tough and the descents often rocky and treacherous-especially when wet. This is probably the only thing I’m good at so I make time on some of the fast ones who maybe don’t descend as well. It was also going to be dark soon and i love running in the dark.
Soon after leaving I came across Karen who was wondering where the hell I was (not knowing I wasn’t too good) as she hadn’t expected me to stop again for drink. Karen wasn’t good herself. She had told me the night before her hamstrings had not been tight since the double fling run (they ran to from the finish of the 53 mile Highland fling before starting the race). She was waiting because right across out path were some young bulls who were happily head butting each other. Which way she said and I said straight through the middle. Have to say I have no fear of bulls of cows but they didn’t half look like they were charge us at any time!
At the next crossing a couple of hours later, I wanted more drink. I saw Steve here who had the trots and was pulling out and unfortunately Karen had to as well and the hams were as tight as anything. I was truly gutted for her as she is very strong at the moment and would have been in the ladies prizes.
By this time my lower gut was aching badly but I thought I would just run it off and settle. I passed a couple of folk and when I got into the hills I could see lines of head torches so I knew I wasn’t too far behind. In fact I had in my mind if I was an hour or two slower to the coast then as long as my stomach had settled I could have a decent last 58 miles.
By the time I was up to Wainstones my guts were terrible. I sat with the Marshals, Dave and Darren for about 5 minutes who are good friends and training buddies and again drank more. I never do this , in fact I try and get out of Cp’s as fast as possible as they are dangerous places .
Mind Darren and Dave had on their own backs set up a cp as good as any cafe !
Onto Bloworth crossing, a high moorland you can make time on, and I startd to gun it ot make up time. After just three miles though I was down on my hunches doubled up in gut pain. Got my First aid kit out and despite promising Ruth, a kidney Doctor running machine I would never take any Ibrufen on a run I took one. Few miles later and I thought it had done the trick along with a couple of paracetamol.
Into Kildale CP at 40 miles and a slurp of tea and again I was confident I could pick up the pace. My legs were very strong and I just need to shake this off. Up to captain cooks monument, down to gribdale and I was more positive. Up the other side and I know it’s only one mile to Roseberry toping. I picked up a glove going up glibdale thinking it looked like it had just been dropped and 2 minutes later, Henry Morris came flying back for it. Funny enough Henry wasn’t too good either but was like me hoping it would abate. (he finished in a really good time btw).
I flew down the rocky path from little Roseberry and up to Roseberry when my good friend John Vernon was wrapped up in a sleeping bag an huge RAB jacket doing the CP . Took a minute with John saying I’d had a bad time but it was easing and again thinking being slow early on wasn’t a bad thing as most die in this race at 70-90 miles. Another runner, mike later mailed me to say I was flying at this point and he was right. I love the rocky descents!
However within a few miles the gut rot was back along with the thirst. It had been going through my mind that I was in danger of a classic Hyponatremia case in the making here. Sweating buckets and drinking far too much even in the cold of early morning ! ( read the whw doctors excellent guide here: http://www.westhighlandwayrace.org/info/medical.htm)
By the time the coast was in sight at 54 miles in the gut rot was just to bad and I reluctantly decided to call it a day, totally gutted to excuse the pun. I could have probably walked /run it in but as I said this race was important to me and I know for a plodder like me this might sound pretentious shite but I didn’t just want to finish I wanted to do it in style, 4 utmb points or no 4 points.So another DNF but i'll keep trying, heck Robert the Bruce's spider has nothing on me !
Gutted but I have to try and take the positives. My legs were very strong for all the 54 miles of hills in them I barely had an ache after. My feet were very good. I’m using a new shoe, the Mizuno wave harrier and two 50 milers and various 20’s and 30’s never mind the Felll races and I haven’t had a single blister or sore. They obviously suit me and I like the grip on them.
So next it’s an Ironman distance Tri, I entered to make me cross train. I really haven’t a clue about how it will pan outas i've only ever doing a sprint. Then its Lakeland 100 late July which again I’m very much looking forward to and hopefully I’ll pick up my 4 UTMB points .
I’ll get there eventually .