Race Date: Saturday 14th September
I ran this race last year, and I think I thoroughly enjoyed it. I may have mis-remembered, because my wife tells me that I was a broken man, and almost quit at mile 99. Also, I slept for an entire 24 hours afterwards, couldn’t walk for a week, and couldn’t quite feel some of my toes for 6 months. What I do remember is crossing the finish line and saying ‘where do I sign up for next year?’. Apparently, my stupidity knows no bounds!
I’d set myself some pretty stiff goals this year, it was to be my 10th ultra, and I felt like I should be putting to use some of the lessons I’d learnt from the previous races. I was hoping to finish before sunrise the following morning, an hour quicker than last year, and was targeting a top 10 finish, but by the time I’d collected my tracking device and sized up the opposition I was already starting to doubt my chances – I’d have been relatively happy with a top 20 finish at that point.
I’d built a mantra into my training this year, ‘slow is smooth, smooth is fast’, and it worked really well for me. For the first time ever I didn’t set off too fast! I came through checkpoint 4 an hour behind my time last year, but the reduction in pace allowed me to eat properly (something I’ve always struggled with on these long races) – and eating properly allowed me to run for longer. But still, coming into checkpoint 6, in 24th place was slightly disappointing. It wasn’t until mile 65 that this mantra started to pay dividends, as I slowly started to real in those ahead of me.
The mental challenges involved with running these long races is significant, and the ability to switch off is key to grinding through the hours. However, this does mean that I don’t remember large parts of the race. Last year I found the slow deterioration in my ability to look after myself, both mentally and physically, quite unsettling, and I ended up more like a shuffling zombie that a runner. This year couldn’t have been more different, I prepared properly, I ate properly, and I genuinely enjoyed myself. I’ve said it before, but I believe that anyone can achieve these distances (the cutoff for this was 30 hours) – we are capable of so much more than we imagine. In my case, I knocked 2 hours, 15 minutes of my 100 mile PB, and finished in 9th place. So, if you’re thinking that you might like to try an ultra marathon, but are having doubts, give me a shout, I will definitely make you do one!
First place was Simon Booth, in a time of 17 hours, 22 minutes. First female was Tanya Rzhanova, 18th overall, in a time of 22 hours, 16 minutes.
|9||Al Cook||21 hours, 8 minutes|
Full results can be found on the Hobo Pace website.