My First Ultra – report by Jonathan Legon

My First 50 Mile ultra 19/6/21
At 4.50 pm by the playground in Hillsborough Park our journey ended; a culmination of months of planning (by Mark) and tough training by the three of us. It was a mixture of joy and relief for me; joy at just having completed 51 miles of one of the toughest ultras you could possibly tackle with over 7700 feet of elevation, and relief that I had managed to complete the mission still in one piece!
Our Saturday morning runs had prepared me well for the day; on a couple of them I swear I almost got frostbite, I lost count of the amount of times I stubbed my toe and those mammoth hills tested me severely! I managed to sustain 50+ mile weeks for virtually the whole of the training, except for when I contracted ‘the virus’ which laid me low for a week or so, but probably gave me the rest I would not otherwise have given myself.
So, 2.50 am on June 19th myself, Kevin Firth and Mark Davies met two ladies, Laura Howarth and Julie Bembridge, who had also decided to join us, in the park. Laura was using this as a trial run for an upcoming 60 miler and Julie was joining us for the first 21 miles as a training run for her upcoming 100 miler! Once the introductions were over, off we went, headtorches lighting our way. We were soon in Beeley Woods, out the other side and making our way along Wharncliffe Side. By now it was almost dawn and the views were spectacular. Then it was over to More Hall (more photos) and our first tough climb up to Bolsterstone. By now I was already eating and drinking plenty and feeling positive and strong and loving every minute!
We then made steady progress over to Langsett and then on to Cut Gate where Laura took a tumble and cut her knee and hand! Howden Reservoir was our next port of call and approximately 5 hours after we started it was time to say goodbye to Julie who very kindly and generously gave us access to the boot of her car which was heavily laden with supplies! Still loving it! Then onwards and upwards out of Fairholmes and all the way over to Edale where Kevin’s wife and kids had been patiently waiting for us for hours and once again we were able to rejuvenate our dwindling supplies. 30 miles down, just 20 to go, just….20….to go!
This is where things began to get tough; if you’ve climbed up and out of Edale towards Mam Tor, on to Lose Hill and eventually up and over Win Hill you’ll know what I mean! This, to me, seemed to take forever and Stanage still seemed so far off, but still loving it! By the time we got to The Yorkshire Bridge some of us were getting low on water so Mark politely asked them if they would top us up, or if not, could we buy a cordial. Unfortunately, with COVID rules in place they told us we’d have to wait our turn to be seated at a table to be served! So, we left, no time for that! Then it was up a long, unrelenting steep road towards the car park at mile 40 where my partner and Mark’s wife were waiting patiently to once again provide much needed supplies (the jelly babies in particular gave Mark a much needed energy boost and fresh water quenched Kevin’s thirst, as he had become increasingly more and more desperate for it over the last few miles, having had enough of the sweet stuff in his bladder). With spirits raised we had one last hill to climb before arriving at ‘the pole’ and then it was downhill all the way, passing through Wyming Brook and finally through Rivelin Valley and after nearly 14 hours we joyously entered the park and crossed the finish line together! What a perfect day! On reflection, I didn’t expect everything to go as well as it did, but it did! The weather was perfect, the company great, the route stunning and I never arrived at the point where people say it’s a mental challenge more than a physical one……looks like I need to extend my horizons! Jonathan Legon

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