Date: 19th – 20th October Location: Caesars Camp, Aldershot Distance: 100 miles Assent: 15200ft Steepest climb: ?? Navigation: full marked course Time Limit: 28hrs
I entered this race last year because I was aiming to get points for the UTMB and this race had 3 for the 100 if you finished within the time limit of 28hrs. (points for the UTMB range from 1-4 and depend on the difficulty of the race) I didn’t really know much about it even though it had been going strong for 7 years. I was just entering races that were spread out enough and I got my rest in between them and the points for the UTMB. I had already planned not to enter the UTMB since my first mountain race in the Peak District was tough, how was I going to cope with Mont Blanc !!! So after telling my coach (Mimi Anderson) that I got in March that I had entered this race she said…IT’S BLOODY TOUGH !!!. After the 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons I was aiming to reece Caesars Camp as much as I could. So I planned with my coach do go there about twice a week for runs ranging from 5 miles to 5 hours, I tried to follow the course of the maps I could find online but there are so many route options there Its really easy to off on the wrong route. Every time I did a reece I would get the train from Waterloo to Aldershot, walk to Caesars Camp and almost getting run over on the road from the roundabout and there is not footpath, getting changed in the wood, putting my spare clothes in a bin liner and hiding it under the leafs etc and then running, then coming back to it after, getting changed and reversing the trip back home. All of this gave me a real understanding of the area and a rough and I mean very rough idea of the course. There were a few sections which I knew were on the route and were rather tricky in either descent or in ascent so I went over those sections a lot of times to get them good in my head… This race has been the closest race to where I live so having the option to go there often has been great.
On the week leading up to the race there had been some blogging mentioning that the race may not be going ahead due the race permit not going through which I found really odd considering the event had been going on since 2006 and been held on the same weekend each year.
Well on race day and as always I could not sleep and got up at 5am and packed all of my things that I had organised previously into my big rucksack, had breakfast and then headed to Waterloo to catch the 7:23am train to Aldershot, I ended up missing it as the buses were running late and ended up getting a fast train to woking and changing there for Aldershot. So got to Aldershot and headed to Tesco to buy some water, bananas and some more pre race food. Ended up buying 22 X 500ml waters and then putting Nunn Tablets in most of them as I didn’t want to wast time doing that in the race. Then started walking to Caesars on the road leading up to the entrance a car stopped and asked if I was racing and they offered me a lift to the start..
When I got there I saw which one was Henk and went over to say Hi, He seemed a really nice guy but still a bit anxious that the race will still go ahead because the film crew were still around and there was a bike rally in the grounds as well..So all in all I really take my hat of to Henk for making this race happen…And It hadn’t even started yet !!!
The race format is simple it’s a 10 mile looped course with each loop consisting of 1520ft of elevation gain and there are 3 distance options in 50 mile, 100 mile both starting at midday and a 30 mile starting at midnight, I was doing the 100 so thats 15200ft of elevation gain……NICE !! The terrain really varies from very soft underfoot to very brutal…(see pic below) both the 50 and the 100 miler started at 12 midday with the 30 miler starting at midnight.
The idea for me was simple that with each lap was to fill up both my water bottles and then take a drop bag with me for each lap, the idea was to take them from my tent but I was told that we had to check our number in with mission control first before going to our tent, if we went to our tents first then we would be disqualified, so I heard that there was a tent that was for runners to put there drop bags in, .so with only a few minutes to spare before the start of the race I place 2 big bags in that tent , one with extra clothes and one with my bottles and mini drop bags, as soon as I came out of the tent the race started…talk about last minute..!!!
In each drop bag there was 2 X chocolate cliff energy gels, 1 X banana, 1 x Ella”s Kitchen baby food pouch (thank you Tarsila X) and if every other bag there was also a Zipvit caffeine gel.
So we were running and on our first lap, The pace to start with was very steady and it is so easy to get carried away with that because the 50 milers were obviously there too. I decided not to run with my Garmin for this race as the battery only lasts for 13hrs and I couldn’t see the point knowing only half your race details so I ran with a basic digital watch so I knew the rough idea of my lap times, Next year I plan to invest in a decent running watch though. The first km or so if relatively undulating with moderate underfoot and then you take a sharp left turn down into a semi steep slope and then you climb under a rather steep not very nice big stoney path which drags on for a bit with the stones getting bigger, then it’s a nice a flat section of soft mud and big puddles to a another steep section which oversees the the heathland, I noticed at this point that there were some runners wearing road running shoes…I can see them slipping a bit.
After about 2 miles there was a rather interesting section where there is a viewpoint at the top with 2 benches and your can see all the way to Farmborough Airfield, this section was very tricky as is was very steep and you could easily lose your footing, the rest of the course until the half way point was rather straight forward. On the first lap I went straight through half way section as I was ok for fluid and for fuel. The route from the half way point to mission control was pretty muddy and hilly but firm in places too.
The next few laps went ok apart from on the 2nd lap the group I was running with got a bit lost…(I blame that on Gemma Carter talking to much) ha ha . So back on route my pace was good, I normally take about 7-8 miles to get into the pace and to find my rhythm I guess this is all to do with not getting carried away with the occasion and going too fast at the start and maybe a few nerves too. The weather for the race really varied from rather warm to start with to windy to very heavy rain indeed which is all part of the fun. There was a point in the race I think It was about 70 miles in and It was raining light showers on and off on and off and I looked up into the sky and said. “look if your going to rain then rain properly and keep raining don’t rain light then stop and start again”…and then about 20 mins later it really pissed down and didn’t stop for a good 2 hours or so.. It took about 2-3 laps for the runners to really spread out, The normal chat when you saw another runner was..”you Ok ? you on the 50 or 100” all the people in the event were pretty chirpy when you spoke to them on the course. I guess that it’s why I chose to really concentrate on ultra-running, you really get a different breed of people competing at these events, you don’t need the best kit to do well in these events you just need to train hard and do the hard graft on race day. I think it also helps to have a strong mind especially in a looped race like this where you are going round the same course 10 times and seeing the same hills 10 times, some people would say “ Oh god I’ve got to go up that bloody hill another 9-8-7 or so times and just can’t take it and drop out where as if you are on a course where it’s a 100 miles from point A to point B theres is going to be different sights for your brain to look at and take in. It all depends what kind of a ultra runner you are..looped courses are more safer and easier for getting used to the distance in understanding what supplies you need for the distance thats why I didd a few looped 100 milers first before doing a A to B one just so I know what to put in my running pack and what to put in my drop bags along the course. With it being autumn the night was going to be long and I was a bit worried that my head torch would die on me again like it did it the 10 Peak Brecon Beacons where about 10 miles from the finish my battery die and I had used up all my spares so I had to shadow another runner to the finish. So before the race I had bought a 20 pack a Duracell Plus batteries so that didn’t happen again and as soon as I got to the drop bag tent and knew that on the next lap it would start getting dark I took my head torch and with brand new batteries inside and a spare set and every 2 loop after that until it got light I would change the battery just a make sure. My feet were a big concern for me in this race and I padded them up well before and made sure I didn’t need to change anything with them during the race, This sort of happened in that my right food was better than normal but my left foot was being a pain in the same way my right foot normally is. I’m not sure why, maybe it because on the underfoot of this race moving the foot around the inside your shoe more than normal, anyhow about 60 mile in the pain on my left foot was really bad so I decided to stop and pad it up a bit but not as much as my right one as the pain was only it one particular area. So with that sorted I was in a bit less pain and I never changed my sock for the whole race and didn’t need to touch my right foot at all yippppppeeeeee !!!!! PROGRESS !!! I never really took pain killers in race before I started running in ultras (Nurofen plus) I heard they help with muscle soreness so I took a few during my race just to ease the pain.. So the race was going really well, I had heard previously that the drop out rate for this race is pretty high in that out of all that start the 100 miler about 30% each year since it started..I was going to get in that percentage. I have a pretty strong mind and in my day job have to do a lot of things at the same time so that really helps, but this race was a very different animal than what I had raced before, I had too on a few occasions take my mind to a pretty dark place where I tell myself “this is not that bad”, That place was when I was going through a stage in my cancer treatment called a “Stem Cell Transplant” that was possibly the worst 3 and a half weeks of my life mainly because I couldn’t eat for the majority of the time, I even had to be given a drug called Valium because I was feeling so depressed and anxious and my mouth was full of ulcers so I couldn’t talk either.
So with that motivation I went on my way to finishing this race…as I enter the main checkpoint with 1 lap to go I saw that my Mum was there and ran over to give her a big hug, I quickly ran over to to the checkpoint and said to Henk “ Please don’t disqualify me thats my Mum” and he said “ Oh ok then but your very lucky though” he joked, so I entered the drop bag tent for the last time and realised that my mum had followed me there, I through my rain jacket on the floor next to my bag and grab my mini drop bag changed my fluid and was off, with my Mum saying “ aren’t your going to pout that in your bag neatly”…I mean…….REALLY 🙂 So with the last lap under way I was very happy and at the top of each of the climbs I turned around and looked back at it and said “ you couldn’t bet me ha ha ha “ so approaching the last assenct and then a descent to the finish I started shouting
I was feeling so happy with myself and saw a big puddle and jumped straight into it as a celebration. I can’t quite remember what happen after that properly because I passed out in my Mums car about 30 min after I finished. I vaguely remember hugging Henk and his wife and Nici (whom I made cry…I’m sorry again) and that really all I can remember..
After getting to my parent home My mum made me baked beans on toast.. ahhhhhhhhhh Seriously it one of the the best meals I ever had..
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79 entered 57 started 10 finished
Placing: 8th Time: 25:32
mile loops 10: 1:47 20: 3:41 30: 6:01 40: 8:33 50: 11:13 60: 14:07 70: 17:30 80: 20:39 90: 23:30 100: 25:32
lap 1: 1:47 lap 2: 1:54 lap 3: 2:20 lap 4: 2:32 lap 5: 2:40 lap 6: 2:54 lap 7: 3:23 lap 8: 3:09 lap 9: 2:51 lap 10: 3:02