Start at noon on Saturday at Ivinghoe Beacon, about 3 miles from Tring, follow the Ridgeway National Trail for 85 miles then turn off to Avebury for the finish. 86.5 miles in total, 21 hours and 11 minutes. I came 5th (female) and have to admit I'm a bit disappointed.The first half was lovely. Some great views, quite good tracks and grass to run on and I was running well. Stocking up on water and nibbles at the checkpoints without hanging around too long. I felt great. My favourite section was Grim's Ditch, about 35 miles in, which is a rootsy trail through the trees - I didn't even fall over!I got to Goring (half way) and had a jacket potato and beans and was ready to head out into the darkness. Not trusting my sense of direction, I decided to stick with a group of 3 others through the night. They were great company and certainly ensured we went the right way, but we spent longer at the checkpoints than I'd have liked.
But my slow time was a result of my sore feet. I was wearing not-very-cusioned trail shoes and the rough ground lead to blisters on the soles of both heels, which made runnig difficult. The balls of my feet were also sore from all the sharp stones and rocks. This made every step painful and from 65 miles onwards it was a struggle to enjoy it, despite feeling otherwise pretty strong. I really felt with a wiser choice of shoe I could have put in a far better performance in the second half.
Still, it was kind of fun running with a pack and a headtorch, past bemused wildlife. I got quite tired around half past three, but felt much better once the sun came up.
My favourite checkpoint was at about 62 miles where a fellow Vegan Runner, Maria, had got some vegan treacle tart and a cup of tea (with soya milk) for me. They tasted fantastic!
This is a really well organised event and one that I'd recommend as a first long ultra. The route is signposted well but worth a recce beforehand if possible. The checkpoints were all brilliant, manned by enthusiastic volunteers from local running clubs. Sadly the medal at the finish doesn't actually say '85 miles' on it though...So, this is definitely an event I have unfinished business with. I'll go back looking for a sub-20 time hopefully. Not next year as I have something else on around then, but 2011 looks good...