Report By: Andy Sheppard
Race Date: 1st March 2020
The Millennium Way is a 42 mile trail ultra in the format of a one-way route between Newark and Burton-on-Trent. Based mainly on old railway tracks and canal towpaths, the route should have been easy-going. However, horrendous storms and heavy rainfall over the previous few weeks made it a bit of a challenge in places.
The ten miles to the first checkpoint were straightforward and flat with the only danger being going off too quickly but there were lots of people chugging along at a similar pace to chat to so keeping it slow was nice and easy in such a friendly bunch. Just after the first CP we had the strange experience of running through Stafford town centre. Whilst mercifully quiet, those that were around did look at the groups of muddy, already-slightly-tired-looking runners plodding past with a mixture of confusion and pity.
Out of the town and we met the first major bit of flooding – the river had burst its banks and the path was a good 3” deep. That was the end of the dry socks for the day, then, with the miles of muddy towpaths coming up just continuing the theme until the last checkpoint of the day at about 30miles.
Then it got really muddy. Just when the legs were starting to feel a little jelly-ish, we were faced with about a mile of horrendous shin-deep gloopy slop that seemed to take an age to get through and sucked all the energy out of you which made the last 5 miles a real trudge.
Overall the race was really well organised and seemed to draw a great crowd but the route was less than inspiring. The miles and miles of railway tracks, riverside tracks and towpaths made it a bit difficult to distract yourself from the amount of time you’re on your feet. With no hills to make you have a walking break, somehow a flat ultra felt much harder than a hilly one, too.
I think I was the only Strider, finishing 46th in 7:59:50 (scraping in under my target 8hr mark by the narrowest of margins!). First person back was Daz Bentley in 5:52:43 with the first lady, Kirsten Fasey, taking 7:15:47.
Link to full results here.