Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon

Date: 13th- 14th July August 2012 Location: Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire Weather: light- heavy rain, windy Terrain: 50% tarmac, gravel,grass, boggy Distance: 100 miles (90 completed) Photos: CLICK HERE

The race is Called the Grimreaper Ultra in which you run a 10 mile loop around the grounds of Grimsthorple Castle, the distances you could choose were 40,70 or 100 miles each distance having a 26hr time limit.

I chose the 100 miles.

Well, the journey started Thursday morning with a bus ride to Kings Cross Station with a 25kg rucksack, 1 tent, small ruck sack and a heavy food bag, talk about not travelling light!

Luckily I live very close to the bus stop and the end stop is very close to the train station.

So, arrived at the station with 10 mins to get the train only to find that they have changed the whole layout and redesigned it…great, found out my train was cancelled but another one was going to Peterborough soon after so all was good.

The Journey only took just under 1hr.

I arrived in Peterborough and there was about a 10 min walk to the bus station for the 101 to Bourne, 1/2hr on the bus and I’m in Bourne.

Next step was to find somewhere to stay for the night…talk about last!

For the next 30 mins I was ringing around to find somewhere…No luck..

I tried the only place in Grimsthorpe The Black Horse Inn and spoke to Sheila whom I asked if it would be possible to have a room for the night or if not was there somewhere she would allow me to put up my tent for one night, She said she thought it would be ok to put a tent up in the beer garden but would have to ring up her husband Richard to double check it was ok.

After 20 mins of waiting for the call she rang back and said it was ok…Happy Days !!!!

I popped into Sainsburys to buy them a nice bottle of wine to say thank you. Got a taxi from there to The Black Horse, knocked on the door and was met by Sheila who showed me the Beer Garden in which I could pitch my tent..

The next step was to pitch a tent that I have never pitched before as I only got it 3 days ago.

2hrs later after trying to figure out why some things were pointlessly attached to the tent and also having some food I managed to put it up and it looked great.

I went into the Pub and asked if I would be possible if they could cook anything that would be suitable for me ( I’m a vegan ).

The chef was great and said he got knock me up a ratatouille with some rice potatoes and some vegetables on the side.

The food was lovely and the staff were very chatty.

So off to bed.

Set my alarm for 6am and lay down to sleep and just then it started to rain…zzzzzzzzzzzz

Up at 6am… breakfast and de pitching of the tent said goodbye to Richard and Sheila saying that I would be back on Saturday for pint of Guinness.

It was just a 5 min walk to the castle entrance from the Black horse where there were already people waiting in their cars to get in.

7am arrived, still couldn’t get in..

A lady came over a said that we had to go via another entrance to get in.

I was given a lift by one of the other competitors who’s name escapes me.

Once in the grounds we walked from the car pack to the area where we could pitch our tents.

This was a good chance to get to know some of the other competitors..but time was ticking to the start of the event so I pitched my tent (quicker this time) and organized my food and drink supplies.

There was a 10 min race briefing which was when it started to rain, then there was about 40 mins to the start.

About 8:40am everyone started to make their way to the start which was  about 1/2 mile away.

The race started bang on 9am, everyone started at a nice steady pace..there were a couple of people that went off rather quickly though.

The location for this event is absolutely stunning the scenery beautiful and a lovely escape from busy London.

The race for me started well, I was going for a pace of 10-12 min/mile and walking on the uphill sections of the course were at some points 45º

The weather was a major factor in the race in that is made some of the course unrunable (my  new word), the worst bit being a uphill section 45º where the event organizers had to put hay down to make it slightly easier to get up..I heard a few people had some nasty falls there.

The course was very interesting with lot of mixed surfaces and lovely countryside, but the weather was horrible, it must have rain from 8:30am on Friday till until about sometime on Saturday morning around 10am

I was really happy with my first 3 laps with each one I think being around 1:45 – 2hrs each.

Clothing wise I started wearing Newton terra-momentus-trail-guidance-trainer, running socks, 2XU calf guards, running shorts, basic t-shirt, Gore Tex waterproof cycling top and Seal Skin gloves..with some Blister tape on sections of my feet that get blisters or major rubbing and also Vaseline on the top part of my thighs to stop chafing.

These all worked really well for the first 3 loop with my Newtons playing a major role in my feet’s condition.

A the end of the 3rd lap I decided to change my socks as they were a bit worse for wear and I wanted to check that the blister tape was ok and not coming off, I decided to put some new tape on anyway just to be safe, I also changed my t shirt.

The next few laps I realised that the course was getting very muddy and you had to be rather careful at some points, as you feet would go down 2-3 inches in the boggy parts.

By the 50 mile point at around 7:30pm I was told that I was the forth male in the 100 miles…GREAT !!!

I went to see the physio at this point as my leg were getting very cold, I got a quick massage and was told that Deep heat would help.

As the weather went from bad to worse I changed into some waterproof trousers and a much better waterproof jacket with a hood.

Before I went out for the next loop I prepared some avocado, peanut butter and honey wraps (which I realised now I should have done earlier as it was adding to my time). on this break I went into the admin tent where there was a physio again , I ask him to look at my right knee cause I was getting a few niggles there, he put some KT tape around it for support and I was on my way

The next loop (6th) was was even ok to wear a t- shirt, but a carried a waterproof just incase.

By the end of that loop It was starting to getting very dark, So the organisers had lined the route with glow sticks which looked really cool.

The head torch went on and I went out into the unknown.

The head torch I had which I realised then was the same color as the gravel path and the puddles (dirty yellow) which didn’t help, So I tried to stick with people who had a head torch with white beam.

After each loop I had a can of coconut water, which was good for rehydration.

Certain sections of the course were very tricky at night the boggy parts where your feet would go down about 2-3 inches on impact, I didn’t see many people running on the grass sections of the course during the night, only the tarmac sections..which was probably wise.

I think it was on either lap 7,8 or 9 that I was trying to avoid a certain part of the course that was 45º and very muddy a slippery, I went up a section of grass by a fence following to same route, got to the top a take a drink and WWWWOOOOOOWWWWZZZEEEERRRR I got a big electric shook form the fence….That woke me up.

I realised that my time per lap was getting longer cause of my left knee, I didn’t want to push it to much as to do permanent I just took it nice a easy. There were a number of people that started to DNF (did not finish) on their 7th-8th lap, by this time I was on the same lap, and time was ticking,I knew that I wasn’t going to get to the 10th lap finish but I want to do as many as possible.

I ended up doing 9 lap (90 miles) in a time of 23hr 31 mins.

I had 2hrs 29 mins to do the last lap, but with my left knee causing concern, you have to be sensible and think long term.

Things I will do differently next time

Stay at accommodation from the Wednesday if the race starts on the Friday Take less food Take a better head torch Take fewer breaks (max 5 mins) each loop manage my clothing better

Good points

I managed my fluids very well, drinking good amounts throughout my time on the course manages a good steady pace throughout didn’t push too hard with injury



Lap 1 10:45 Lap 2 12:28 Lap 3 14:22 Lap 4 16:33 Lap 5 19:00 Lap 6 22:18 Lap 7 01:44 Lap 8 04:47 Lap 9 08:29 Lap 10 DNF

The event overall was a great experience and one I would definitely do again.

A big thanks to Keith from Fat Feet for putting on this event, to all the volunteers for cheering you on into the wee hours and a big thanks to Gary Benson and his team for keeping me legs going.