South Downs Way 50

Finish photo SDW50

Well, I did it ! I actually managed to run 50 miles…. well, when I say run that may be a bit of an exaggeration for the last few miles but my feet got me from the start to the finish in 11 hrs 45 mins and 37 secs.

Centurion Running put on some great events. From the information provided before the event through to the superb aid stations and enthusiasm for each finisher no matter where you finish.

Beforehand I had said I didn’t mind what the weather was but the worst thing would be to be running in to a head wind… The prevailing wind is normally south westerly so it *should* be behind you giving you a helping hand… but on the day it was a north easterly meaning that for 50 miles I would be running straight in to it.

The other big problem for me, not being one of the faster runners, is that I would be out for a LONG time and deciding what to wear and carry with me was one of the biggest dilemmas.

In training I’d run in all sorts of weather, from gale force winds, rain, sun and everything in between so I knew I had a range of clothes that would be comfortable for that length of time. I had my trusty Inov-8 Trail Talon 290 trainers (the second pair, the first had worn out). My training had gone more or less according to plan. Any training plan that lasts 6 months and gets you back from injury and 2 miles a week to running a 50 mile Ultra will have weeks that don’t work out because of illness or work and that is only to be expected but overall it had gone well.

I went for the “bright” option so my crew could spot me from a distance 🙂

One thing I love about Ultra running is how friendly everyone is. It really is a community that embraces you and helps you achieve the extraordinary. At the start I met a couple of people I had seen at other races as well as someone I was friends with on Facebook but hadn’t actually met in person. I also got very nervous to the point I told my husband in no uncertain terms where to go when he started giving me “useful” advice….

Not long after the start I started chatting to a chap called Kevin, we seemed a similar pace so ran along together chatting and passing the miles. I also passed quite a few people I knew just out for their long runs (an advantage of running locally !). Just before the pig farm I took a tumble and Kevin (and a few other runners) stopped to help me up. I had managed to bend my fingers right back on my left hand and they were really quite painful. I could still move them so I carried on. Over the course of the race the hand swelled right up and I couldn’t use it. Thankfully the aid station volunteers got my water bottles out, refilled them and put them back. I turned down the offer of seeing the medical team. It wasn’t stopping me running and knowing I’m not the fastest runner in the world I thought the time delay may make the difference between me making the cut-off time or not……

From about 11 miles in I couldn’t stomach any solid food. I just found it too nauseating to try and swallow it so I stuck to the Tailwind drink that I had been using in training. Luckily Centurion provided this pre-mixed at the aid stations and that made my aid stops so much quicker and easier. Over the whole race I drank nearly 7 litres of Tailwind. I did need to stop for the loo at each aid station but this did mean I wasn’t dehydrated and unlike any other event I’ve been to there was never a queue for the loos !

For me though this was far more than a race. I’ve always said that I take my demons running with me so I can see who drops first and I now know exactly how far my demons can run. Ultra running changes you. You begin to realise what is actually important in life and you realise how much “mind clutter” we are all surrounded by. You learn how to deal with pain and tiredness and you find that when you think you can’t go on you have an inner strength that you didn’t know was there. For me I learnt that my demons can run for 42 miles. At that point for me something changed. I find it hard to articulate exactly what but I feel I have finally managed to leave them behind me. I took my pain running with me but left the demons behind.

So, the high points :

  • The people I met during the race, the aid station volunteers and random strangers that shouted words of encouragement
  • The views, you really do feel as though you are running on the top of the world
  • Seeing my grand-daughters at Devils Dyke with Clara shouting Go,Go, Nana 🙂
  • My support Crew of Ollie & Dorian who helped me change from shorts to longer trousers as it got cold about 36 miles in…..
  • The support of my friends and family – all the people (especially Ann) who kept me company on the longer runs and listened to my worries and anxieties before the event
  • Seeing everyone at the finish and having the people who mean the most to me run the last lap of the track with me.
Left to Right : Dorian, Ollie, Me, Phill & Ann

Will I run another 50 mile race ? I hope so; I’m not sure where or when but I most probably will, there are a few other things I want to do as well (more on that in future posts) but for me running sets me free x

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