Saturday, August 29, 2015

St Bega's Ultra 2015

crossing from Honister to Ennerdale

nervous start
Ah, St Bega! What a great event, what a fantastic day.  I've made so many running friends through this race and had such good times.  Back for my second year and with one eye on getting a decent time.  My running buddies Dean and Jonathan were both out with injuries so I was set to run on my own.  While it would have been great to run with a group, particularly to support Dean to bag his first ultra distance event, the prospect of running my own race excited me.  Last year we ran as a big group, apart from the infamous Stephen Brown nick off.  This was great fun but a little bit of me was frustrated at all the waiting around.  This year, much like the Scafell Marathon, I was confident I could cover the distance and fancied a try at going a bit faster.  My analysis of the 2014 race was that I spent a lot of time waiting for other people, either at the bottom of descents or at aid stations and I should be able to shave off considerable time by not having to wait around and not dawdling through aid stations.

serious business this ultra running
So to the race.  I met a very nervous Joanne, along with other friends, at the start.  We ran up the first hill together and then she told me to go on, wisely holding back her energy at this early stage.  I felt pretty good through the forest and over the fields towards Keswick.  I ran for a bit with David Barker and David Scott.  At this point, I thought I was probably going a bit fast and told the David's that I was not going to keep up with them and that I would hang back.  The run along the side of Derwent Water still felt a bit fast.  I was following two runners who kept surging ahead but then taking wrong turns so I was able to keep level with them.  I was in and out of the aid station at Rosthwaite fairly quick and then took the section up to Honister fairly steadily.  A few people overtook me at this stage.  The climb through the slate mine was expected to be tough and it was but I found it easier than those around me and overtook a few people on this section.  

crossing the high point
The run down to Ennerdale including the steep descent down the gill were both taking in my fell running strengths and I arrived in Ennerdale Valley feeling pretty good.  I overtook a few people along the next stretch to the Low Gillerthwaite aid station, only for one person, who introduced himself as David Logan, Facebook friend (yes lots of Davids) to come into the aid station after me and then leave before me.

The notoriously long Ennerdale Valley section seemed a bit shorter than usual today.  Another person overtaken on the road stage to Dent and then I finally caught up with David Logan on Bummers which again, I was expecting to be very difficult but it wasn't as bad as I thought.  Coming down from Dent and into the last aid station at Cleator, I was feeling pretty tired at this point and took some time to refill my water bottles, text my wife with an ETA and refuel with coke and other goodies.

last descent from Dent, SHUT UP LEGS!
The last four miles were difficult, the last section over the fields by the railway line (my least favourite section) seemed ok and went in quicker than expected.  I was overtaken by one person just as I got off the cycle track and then overtook one right at the very end.

My overall time was 7:40 for 36.5 miles.  About 20 minutes faster than 2014.  I enjoyed it a lot more.  I had struggled more in 2014, partly due to wrong shoe choice (Hokas).  My wife and kids, along with aussie grandparents/in-laws were there at the end.

When I compare with my 2014 time, I think I actually went faster between aid stations last year but spent more time stopped.  It could be that waiting for others allowed me to rest and go faster on the runnable sections?  I'm happy with my time, and despite not taking a massive amount off my time, I do think this years effort was a considerably better performance, but I think I could go a bit faster. Roll on 2016.

"I can see the beer tent"

waving at the family

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