Chalkland Way Ultra Result & Report

Race Date: Saturday 4th November 2023

Race Report by Jim Rangeley

Trail Ultras, the organisers of the Chalkland Way 40 mile race, are some of the most welcoming race organisers I’ve come across. The step into ultra racing can be daunting, but Trail Ultras make it easy, with their open and easily accessible Female and Inclusivity policies including things such as flexibility for pregnancy, generous course finishing times and real toilets at a few of the checkpoints.

Ultra Trails banners

Registration started at about 6.30, so the day started early for me as I drove up from Sheffield with a flask of coffee and some peanut butter and jam sarnies. I arrived at the sports club in Pocklington for kit check, tracker fitting and the eventual finish line. Toilets, changing room and the rising sun accompanied the assembly of runners before a short walk to the start line and announcements from Grant, the race organiser.

As the metaphorical bell tolled 8, we were off. I was a lot closer to the front than I had intended as I was nursing a minor case of man flu and didn’t want to get carried away with overexuberant athletes and the front runners.

The route overall is marked well enough, with large arrows on the road sections and smaller blue and yellow flags on paths and trail junctions. A map is provided, although the weather of this particular race left mine in mush. For those who wish the gpx files are available too, but for me I was in sight of other runners most of the time.

The route to the first checkpoint, about 8 miles in, was a mix of grass path around the Kilnwick Percy golf course, arable fields and a touch of tarmac. We approached the first checkpoint with a great spread of snap, all of it vegan, most of it Gluten Free. A bit of a throng formed topping up flasks with powders and a lot of faffing about.

Jim battles the miles and the man flu

I try and keep my stops at checkpoints brief, flasks already out of the bag and have a hand on my soft cup ready for the restorative flat coke. For me it breaks up the mileage because I think about what I want to eat and get everything close to hand in the pouches of my bag before I get to stop.

One of the great things about these races is the community feel of the event. All the checkpoints are staffed by volunteers from local clubs and events, Punk Panther Endurance Events, Yorkshire Wolds Runners, Pocklington Runners and the team from Hardmore Ultra and Trail Races. This effort to include a spread of people is central to trail and ultra running for me.

As the miles and checkpoints ticked over passing Bugthorpe, Thixendale (which I hear most people still stubbornly refer to as Thitwitterendale) and Fimber, I eventually reached a checkpoint just after the half way point of the race, where a food bag drop was available for athletes. The wind was picking up and the rain coming down so it was time to layer up and start the longest slog of the race, 10 miles to the final checkpoint. The route was directly across the fields which stuck to the soles leaving a kilo or so of thick floppy mud attached to the feet, we brushed Wetwang village for a moment of respite and then back to sloppy mud fest. At this point I felt decent, and was running well in comparison to those around me so was buoyed by overtaking a few people up the hilly fields.

The last checkpoint (just a couple of Park Runs from the end) saw the last top up of flat coke, gels and the run in to the end began. A few sections of the route ran along the bottom of steep chalk valleys mainly used as grazing pasture and the last section was no different, only this time we had 2 steep climbs up the side of the valley rather than along the bottom. With 60ish km in the legs, these last few climbs were proper stings in the tail. Hitting the last section of hard pack trail and finally a bit of tarmac I put in my quickest miles of the day. Passing the Kilnwick Percy golf course again after 62km and back to the registration area at 64km to finish. I got a wildflower seed biodegradable medal at the finish (you could choose from this or a wooden one) and chose a tree instead of a tee.

Overall the 35 miles of cross country topped up with some hard trail and a bit of tarmac was a good but tough day out. While it was annoyingly runnable, the route was splendid. Really well supported and organised, supremely friendly and I’d recommend any of the Ultra Trail events for seasoned ultra runners and those on their first alike.

Banners against a stunning sky at the Chalkland Way Ultra

Jim was the lone Strider among 114 runners who finished the Chalkland Way Ultra. The men’s race was won by Stephen Kirk in a time of 05:53:29. Chrissie Dover won the women’s race in a time of 06:54:37. No club information was given.

Striders Results

P Name Cat Cat P Time
13 Jim Rangeley SM 7 07:06:23

Full results can be found on the Open Tracking website.

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