Race Date: Saturday 18th June 2016
In James Fletcher’s own words:
I had a good day on Saturday, participating in Rat Race ‘The Wall’ ultra marathon. This is an iconic route which broadly follows the route of Hadrian’s Wall through the spectacular Northumberland countryside for 69 miles from Carlisle to Newcastle. The run is primarily on road, but does include some good trail / off-road sections. The entire route was reliably way-marked and also included some motivational signs such as:
‘Does it hurt yet? 10 miles done’
‘Nearly half way, 30 miles down, 39 to go’
‘It’s a hell of a long way just for a curly-wurly’
‘Don’t worry, your nipples will grow back’
My strategy was to maintain even pace around 10 minute miles, walk anything vaguely uphill and take plenty of time at the checkpoints. This turned out to be 25 minutes of scoffing (sandwiches, quiche, soup and pork pies) at the 44 mile stop at Hexham. With around a marathon to go, there was a risk that I would not be able to get going again, however I used my triple booster of red-bull-coke mix, paracetamol and i-pod glaze and got into a really good rhythm.
The run along the Newcastle Quayside into the finish was fantastic, the Tyne Bridge came into view and all the party-goers and skateboard kids were clapping and cheering the finishers, before we crossed the Millennium Bridge to finish at HMS Calliope and pick up my medal, curly-wurly, more food and beer.
I finished in 13 hours 21 minutes in 59th place, of 593 starters and 529 finishers. The winner completed the course in 10 hours 5 minutes and, arguably even more impressively, the last finisher came in at 25 hours 20 minutes after running through the night using mandatory kit head-torch and rear flashing light.
I really enjoyed the event and would recommend it if you are looking for a well-supported, mass participation ultra, made manageable by the generous cut-offs and if you don’t mind paying the excessive entry fee. The organisation was superb with four very well-stocked ‘pit-stops’, plus loads of ‘check-points’ where you could pick up water and sweets. For me there was just a bit too much road to want to run it again. I’m looking forward to running the 100k trail ultra along Saint Cuthbert’s Way from Lindisfarne to Melrose with John Rawlinson in July.
(I think that this will be the first and last time that I am top of the Striders Strava distance leaderboard).
(Apologies for the lack of gold and green in the photos, but club colours are generally lacking on these sort of events).
The race was won by Alex Newman Smith in 10.04.58. The first woman was Marie Duignan in 12.06.55
|59||James Fletcher||M Sen||13.20.45|
Official Results: The Wall results