Monday, 18 May 2009

Marlborough Downs Challenge...

I did it!! I completed by first Ultra!! The event was a 33 mile run called the Marlborough Downs Challenge across some great English countryside in the sunny, rainy, wind swept hills of Wiltshire.

I planned this race purposely because it followed only three weeks after London, providing another opportunity to put all that hard training to good use, whilst also giving myself enough time to recover from the pounding that my legs and feet took on the streets of London.

And all in all it worked!! The race plan went great.... I employed a 9 min/1min run/walk strategy from the very start of the race. This was advised by my new online running Coach Mad Dog ( who provided me with some great advice in the lead up to this race. The run/walk strategy worked a treat!!!!... Unlike London where the miles and the pace soon took their toll on me, this was an altogether calmer affair. I just went into this race with the one goal (actually two goals) 1 - to enjoy it, and 2 - finish it! I did that order.

The pace I ran throughout meant that even at mile 30 I was still feeling fresh as a daisy (comparatively speaking) and running the same pace as I was at the beginning of the race. The course was also mostly unmarked which added some extra spice to the pot! It required constant checking of the detailed route description that I had attached to my camelpak in a font size just a tad to small to read easily on the run! (note for next time - BIGGER FONT). I even brought a compass but luckily didn't have to use it. The navigational aspect certainly slowed me down a bit (a good thing probably!)...but it was actually a very enjoyable part of the event. And whilst there were a few wrong turns made most of the time there was always a person behind you to shout...WRONG WAY...TURN RIGHT! Thanks Britnick for your company on-route and navigational support on the tricky sections, and also to the two brothers; one of whom had run this event 7 times before and who could probably have run the course blindfolded, and the other brother who was just along for the ride. And what a ride!!

The best parts for me (there were many) was the amazing scenery which was picture postcard stuff, the friendliness of the event volunteers who even at the most wind swept of check points out in the middle of nowhere greeted you with a smile and plate of custard creams (which I couldn't eat - see 'blog title' - more on this in a future blog perhaps), and lastly the sheer enjoyment that comes from running such a long way. I can't describe what this feels like, well I could, but not right now... its enough to say that I will be back for more... In fact I'm just getting started...

I finished in 5hrs40min (still waiting for offical timing and placing) which I was extremely pleased with. I may even have got a negative split but haven't analysed the garmin data yet to find out.

Its a great feeling to get the first ultra under my belt and I can't wait til the next one!!! This will be a 52.4m ultra (Kent 50 mile Challenge) on 19 July which I better start training for now... after a week recovery that is!


  1. Nice account, Stu. It was a pleasure to meet you and run with you for a while.

  2. Well done there Stu, maybe one day I'll do a marathon. I like the sound of Ultra running too. Berkley?