On Saturday I did my fourth ultra run. It was a lovely figure-of-8, off-road course starting at a school in Compton (about 6 miles from Goring & Streatley in Oxfordshire).
I took a train up on the Friday evening and got a lift from the station to the school from Jan, the race organiser's wife. The whole family were really friendly and helpful, as were all the marshalls along the way, helping make it an event with a fantastic atmosphere. I went to the pub where there were several other runners and we watched a DVD of the Grand Union Canal Race, another event put on by Dick Kearn. He's a keen ultra runner himself and certainly knows how to set up a super event! Accommodation was free - making use of the gym mats in the school hall.
The run started at 9am and there were competitors doing a 20 mile option all starting at the same time. I met up with several Fetchies and also a friend from primary school whom I hadn't seen since we were 11! It was all very friendly and sociable. We set off from the school field and followed trails and tracks, going through woods and over large steep hills. At 19.3 miles, you could choose whether to turn back for the 20 mile finish, or continue for the 40.
It wasn't a question for me, despite my stomach starting to play up a bit. At about 24 miles I was caught up by Phil - a friend of Ade's (the runner I did most of the Thames Trot with). We stayed together for the remainder of the race, chatting the miles away. It was good to have good company, especially when I had to walk quite a bit when my stomach got really painful, as well as in a couple of places when the instructions weren't totally clear so we could work out between us which way to turn! The route was generally well marked with some marshalls here and there, flour on the ground and a few arrow signs, plus we had written instructions. Fortunately I remembered I had ibuprofen with me, which enabled me to really enjoy running the last 6 miles or so. Wish I'd taken it earlier! At the checkpoint at 31 miles, the organiser's daughter (whom I'd chatted with the previous night and mentioned being vegan in passing) had saved me a banana, realising that I wouldn't want any of the Haribo sweets on offer. Like I said - a wonderful family!
At the finish we were each given a Creme Egg - Jim's face lit up when I presented him with mine that evening - and a long sleeved grey T shirt (as modelled in the picture).
It was a brilliant day and I'll definitely do it again, as well as hopefully some of the other events run by the same people.
I did my usual recovery 4 miler the next morning, before heading to Eastleigh to stay with my brother and his family for a couple of days. We got in a couple of lovely trail runs (7 and 4 miles), plenty of walking and a bit of a bounce on a trampoline - all good for recovering from a long run. Russ also took Jim out for a nice long cycle ride so everyone was happy.