Dukeries 40

Race date: Saturday 6th May 2023

Report by Steve Blake

After completing my first Marathon last October in York, I decided to follow in the footsteps of some of my peers and enter my first Ultra, which includes large sections in Sherwood forest and Clumber Park.

I tend to train on average 3 times a week running from Heeley on Mondays and Hillsborough on Wednesdays with a bit of speed work to for good measure. I did include a extended long run to Penistone and back (25 miles)to see how ready I was and that definitely gave me confidence.
A great benefit to running an Ultra is you can eat as much as you want unlike races and Marathons where you normally just have gels and water.

Race day :- My good friend and experienced Ultra runner Al Cook was also running the 40 and kindly offered me a lift to Walesby Race headquarters. I’ve known Al for a good few years now and didn’t think for a moment we would be running the whole event together….But you know what they say “Teamwork is Dreamwork”
We both registered and one of the organisers asked me to hold out my hands to see how I was nervous, when they were told this was my first Ultra. We all had a giggle.

The atmosphere was fairly relaxed and the main hall started to fill with runners. After our last checks we all congregated in the courtyard where the organisers briefed us on what to expect throughout the day.
Just time for a quick selfie with Al and let’s get going.

The 41 mile route is mainly trail with a few road crossings thrown in and the course has a generous amount of Marshalls.
The first food and aid station seemed to arrive very quickly at seven miles, helping my self to watermelon, jam sandwich and Rola-Cola.

Al running up a road through a field of yellow rapeseed flowers

Then it was on to Sherwood forest where we bumped into a Totley runner for a nice chat and encountering the famous Major Oak. The scenery and views were just amazing and having Al as my wing-man never made the distance ahead seem too daunting.

At mile 23 we had reached Creswell Crags aid station 3 and was greeted by my good friend Cara Hanson who might I add completed this same race about this time last year. Cara and Family were showing there support to me and Al and I got a very welcome change of socks, shoes and top and soon enough we where back on our way in to the long section around Clumber Park. This is where I started snacking on my own supplies of Spanish Figs, Salted Preszels, Peperami and Al’s favourite Apple and Cinnamon Energy Chews apart from his classic Tangtastics. Clumber Park was awesome and the Swans in the lake looked majestic.

The total distance on my watch was 66.60Km (41.25 Miles)
The last 500 meters when you see the finish line is just Amazing and I even managed to pull off a sprint to be clapped and congratulated by Marshalls, runners and there family and friends. Everyone was just so friendly and nice.

I had a stretch and received my medal and t-shirt along with a coffee and the finest sweet potato soup I have ever tasted with a buttered cob.
Me and Al both finished our Ultras in under Eight hours with only seconds between us.

For anyone thinking of doing there first Ultra, this would be a great one to consider as it also has a 30 mile option. The course is reasonably flat and is just a beauty to behold.

Pos. Name Time
35th Al Cook 7:54:20
36th Steve Blake 7:54:46
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