This week we have a guest post from one of our instructors at Buxton – Rob.
He recently completed the Ultra Tour Of The Peaks and here is his account:
“In April 2016, I completed my first road marathon in Manchester, which you may have read about in an earlier blog post. Therefore, in 2017 I needed a new challenge; something bigger and better. I found a few races organised by Dig Deep Events that caught my eye and decided to undertake the 60-mile Ultra Tour of the Peak District. It would have been more sensible to start with the 30-mile race, however I wanted the challenge of 60 miles and a 3000m ascent. With just a few months to train, I ordered a map of the route and began work. The race was booked for Saturday 19th August.
The months flew by but I had managed to run most the race route. I’d experienced how demanding the hills would be and figured out what foods would get me up them. It turns out, ham and tomato thins are incredible!
It was the day before the race and I didn’t know how I felt about it, nervous, excited or just plain terrified. I spent the day registering for the race, packing all the food that I needed and making sure I knew the route and where all my checkpoints were.
It was here. It was race day; my alarm went off at 4:15am and I was up and on my way. The start and finish was at Whirlow Farm just outside of Hathersage. I arrived and got myself ready and dropped off bags that I wanted shipping to different aid stations and got ready for the race briefing which started at 5:45. A few quick safety notices and we were on our way!
At the start the miles seemed to fly by, we climbed onto Burbage Edge and I reached the first checkpoint at 6 miles. The route then climbed up on to the top of Stanage Edge which is when the weather took a turn for the worst. The rain started and the fog started to drop and for the rest of the race this barely changed. Throughout the day we witnessed every type of weather you can imagine: sleet, hail and high winds. This made for a tough race.
The half way point, 30 miles, was located at Yorkshire Bridge near Ladybower reservoir. I made it here without much issue and I was feeling good. The next fifteen miles however would soon change that feeling. After several more gruelling hills and found myself at Hathersage feeling absolutely broken. I can’t put this feeling onto paper. We’ve all heard the phrase hitting the wall in running, however this was more continuously running into the wall and running away from it and then back into it.
I battled against my mind on whether to drop out and call it a day. I carried on and left the checkpoint very shortly after knowing the sooner I got going again the sooner I would be finished. The section from Hathersage to the finish line, stupidly, was the only section I hadn’t already ran. It wasn’t long into this section that I got lost for the first time. I had gone off route by about a mile or two. The light had dropped so I had my head torch on and by this point I just wanted to be finished. I re-gained my bearings and finally made it to checkpoint 20 which was the penultimate checkpoint. From here all I had to do was follow a straightforward route back to Whirlow Farm. This straightforward route however just seemed to keep on going.
I could hear noise and finally caught a glimpse of the finish line. I had one final corner and about 50metres left. It took everything I had to get across that line. I was greeted by a marshall who gave me my official finishers medal and a few friends and family helping me stagger to a chair. That was it, I was officially an Ultra marathon runner.
The results came out a few days after the event and I got my official time of 16 hours and 8 minutes. I was over the moon. Out of 65 people that started I came in 30th Position. For my first ever Ultra Marathon, I was thrilled. Now that a bit of time has passed and my legs have started working again, I’ve decided that it certainly will NOT be my last ultra-marathon and I’m already on the lookout for my next challenge.”
Well done Rob an amazing feat, we salute you!