With the Berlin Wall race in August and then Spartathlon looming large I was hoping for a warm race for some good hot weather training. Fortunately the British summer delivered and the race took place in bright sunshine and warm still air.
The 30 mile race is organised by Challenge Running and takes place in conjunction with a 100 and 50 mile race.
The race route is an out and back, and starts at Felsted Village Hall. After a short road section it turns onto the Flitch Way (a former railway line, so straight and flat). After 4.3 miles there is a checkpoint at the old Rayne Station ( now the Booking Hall Cafe) and then you turn around and head back to Felsted. The 100 mile race is 12 laps, 6 for the 50 and 4 for the 30 mile version.
I drove up in a relaxed mood looking forward to a good long run. With the promise of a flat route I was aiming for a solid steady paced run. I had no real pace plan, but wanted to run to feel and try and be consistent and run with no walk breaks.
I’d not expected to know too many people here, but met up with Gill and Ian Thomas and then Paul Ali at registration so knew I’d have some good company on the route. Before long we were off. I’d been chatting with Ian before the start and found my self on the front row of the start. However Craig Holgate shot passed me and was soon disappearing into the distance. Another runner (Mark Prigg) also passed me, but then we settled into a steady pace toward the Flitch Way. The route itself has a fair bit of shade from the tree cover, but it was already warm at the 9am start and the temperature was building.
By the turn around point I had passed Mark, but Craig had pulled out a significant lead. I’ve seen Craig race before and knew he holds the course record, and he looked like he was trying to improve on it!
Out and back laps are often perceived as dull because you get the same scenery again and again, but I do enjoy seeing other runners during the race, and everyone seemed to have a huge smile on their face and offer encouragement to other runners.
The first lap went well, and I managed not to go out too hard. Back at Felsted and Gill offered to refill my flask while I ate some fruit. Ian was just behind me, and he was running the 100, but I knew his target time so expected him to be starting fast.
Lap two was much the same as the first. I’d been focused on not going too fast at the start, but now I was relaxed and in fact ran this lap a little faster. However it was getting hotter and by half way through lap 3 I was starting to regret my kit choice. I have a good waist belt with a 600ml bottle, but decided that the sloshing noise of water in a hard bottle would be annoying. Instead I picked a small waist belt with a 250ml soft flask. For the first couple of sections this was enough, but now I was finding 250ml wasn’t quiet enough for the 4.3 miles between checkpoints. At the end of lap 3 I had to fill my flask, drink it and refill before leaving Felsted, and when I got to the turnaround point I stopped for a good few minutes to drink before heading back.
Two miles from the finish I felt a sharp stabbing pain on the top of my left foot. I stopped immediately and saw a wasp trapped under the tongue of my shoe, with his stinger jabbing into my skin. After flicking it away, hopping up and down and swearing a bit, I hobbled on. Fortunately it didn’t seem to have done much damage so I managed to run in to the finish.
I was happy with my performance and pacing and I ran the entire distance with no walk breaks, although a few stops to drink and beat off predatory bugs. So a good day out.
My lap times were consistent until lap 4 where I dropped a lot of time, but. that was mostly non moving time. My running speed was solid all the way.
1st place and taking 6mins off his own CR was Craig Holgate in 4:02:09
I finished in 2nd place in 4:49:28
It took a couple of hours and several pints of water, two McDonalds milkshakes in the car, plus more milk and tea at home to rehydrate, but when I finally cracked open a beer I could reflect on a good race. Thanks to Lindley Chambers and the team at Challenge Running for putting on a great event, and I’ll be back for more in future.