Raceday – Cotswold Running – Ellenden Farm Spring Frolic
4.5 km (2.8 ish Mile) laps, all on trails, with approx. 200ft of ascent on each lap, around Ellenden fruit farm in Harvington nr Evesham. There was 12hr, 6hr, 3hr solo races and relay-team options for each distance too.
A last-minute decision to sign-up for this 12-hour multi-lap race. I’d decided beforehand I was going to use it purely as a training event, to get some miles on my legs, with the intention of getting to around 50 miles. I have to admit though, the thought of running round 2.8mile laps for 12 hours didn’t fill me with joy, but I knew I’d benefit from the time on my feet.
Breakfast – Porridge with Soya milk, 1 banana, coffee
Left home nice and early as I hate turning up to races in a rush. I like to get registered in good time, and have sit down for half hour or so before briefing, just to ‘psych myself up’ in readiness, and re-check kit etc… I’d chosen my Hoka Challenger ATR3’s to run in for the day, and they turned out to be a good choice for me.
I’d brought along a couple of new foods (new to me I mean) to try out during the event, as I thought it a good opportunity to see if they suit me or not. I’m still experimenting wuth HUEL bars and I also tried out Trek Coconut Protein Flapjacks and Peanut Power Energy Bars. The coconut ones in particular were good. I also had Triple Nut Butter sandwiches (one of my favourite race-snacks), and a bowl of Tomato Pasta, which I enjoyed at the 6 hour point. I ate something at least every hour during the event and the ‘new items’ sat well on my stomach.
Fluid intake was tricky. I’d decided not to wear a race vest, as it wasn’t part of the madatory kit, so didnt have drinks with me whilst out on the course, and was relying on provisions from the organisers, and my kit bag at the aid station for fluids. The weather had turned out to be much hotter than I’d anticipated, with bright sunshine and 20+ degree celsius temperatures for the majority of the day. This made keeping hydrated tricky, and I found myself losing lots of salts from sweating. I had electrolyte drinks in my pack, as I’ve never been good with salt tablets (they always make me feel sick) so did intersperse this with water throughout the day. In hindsight, I wish I’d run with a minimal pack, including fluids ,as there was times on the course I began to feel quite de-hydrated. I must add at this point that Cotswold Running did a great job with looking after all the runners out there, and were really attentive at the aid station, with plenty of drinks and food on offer, whilst making sure we were managing our fluids as best as possible.
I recognised a couple of runners from previous events, and began talking to a nice fella called Richard as we were waiting to start. We ended up running the first 4 hours or so together, and then again a couple of times later in the race too. Was good to chat to someone, and it certainly made the early miles go by fairly quickly. He was also using the event as training for a race later this year (The V3K race in June, which has been on my radar for some years – I’ll be keen to see how he does in it) Image below, with me on the right side of the picture, from the Cotswold Running Facebook Page
The 2 lead-runners were flying from the start, and by lap 4 they had both already lapped me (!!) – I had to remind myself I was running my own event, and wasn’t in it to race – not that I’d have had a chance to keep up with either of them however…
Around 3 hours in, my normal running mate Dean turned up to offer some moral support – he’s currently recovering from a hip fracture following a bike accident last year, so isn’t currently racing. Was good to see a familiar face, and he stayed to see me through a couple of checkpoints.
Shortly after Dean left, my wife Ginny and my kids Ben & Darcy arrived, along with My Auntie Pam. They stayed for 2 or 3 hours, which was fantastic. Ben decided to run a lap with me too, which was definitely my favourite lap of the day. He’s a great little runner himself, and at times he was leaving me for dust! At the same time some other friends, Anna, Derek and Becky came along to offer support, and Anna took some photo’s – watch this space later in the week!
Before I knew it, I’d passed the half-way point, and had got to 30 miles. My slow-and-steady approach seemed to be working, as I was feeling good, albeit a bit sunburnt (!!). In the week beforehand, I’d purchased some Better You Magnesium Gel – Better You are one of our supporters for The Two’r in June – it ceratinly seemed to help during the race, and afterwards, in keeping my legs feeling fresh.
The next few laps/miles passed by uneventfully, and I spent quite a bit of time running alone, as the 6 hour runners had all finished and there was only fifteen 12hr runnners on the course at a time (including the relay team runners). My pace definitely slowed, and at times I was run/walking, but I was sticking to my plan of it being a training run, and not a race.
Lap 18…. I started this lap at around 10hours 45mins in to the event. I’d worked out that I’d pass the 50 mile mark toward the end of this lap, and even though my legs themselves still felt good, I was beginning to feel generally fatigued. The heat had been taking it’s toll, so I decided to make this my final lap – I did hike a fair amount of this last lap.
I crossed the timing mat for the last time 11hrs and 22 minutes after starting, and handed in my chip. 50.5 miles and 18 laps. Very pleased.
Checking the results in the evening, and somehow I’d managed to come 3rd out of the 10 solo runners! Not quite sure how that happened, but is a nice little cherry on the cake, especially as I didn’t feel I was racing. A greatly organised event, but a shame for the club that not more runners turned out.
Intending a couple of days rest now, and will get back to training mid-week.