Hell On The Humber

Location: Humber Bridge Board,East Yorkshire, England Weather: Humid with little or no wind Terrain: Tarmac, concrete Distance: 54 miles Time: 12 hours

This race is called Hell On The Humber for a number of reasons.

The aim is to complete as many crossings of the bridge as possible it the allotted time (6 or 12 hours) taking as little or as many breaks as you want.

I competed in the 12hr event. (of course)

I got up rather early on Friday morning and cycled to Kings Cross to collect the train tickets from a friend who had booked them on his credit card and was also meant to be competing.

But due to a personal emergency he had to fly to Jakarta on the Friday morning so was unable to race.

So after finishing work at 2:30am on Friday morning and having to meet him at 7:15am I was rather tired.zzzzzzzzzzzzzz ( not good pre race prep)

After collecting the ticket I wishing my friend the best of luck and cycled home for some sleep.

Got up again about midday for a big bowl on Muesli, banana, macca powder, honey and cocoa nibs, after that I packed and sorted the rest of my things for the event.

Armed with a 25kg backpack , 1 tent and a smaller rucksack I got a bus to Kings Cross Station for the 14:35 to Leeds. (2hr 25m train journey)

I was sitting at a table seat with 3 laddies on the way to Leeds for a hen weekend, so there was chocolates, champagne, ok mags, hello mags and lots of girly chat..going on..but i was to tired to join in, I tired to get some sleep but its always hard on trains.

So got to Leeds and bought a connecting ticket to Hull (1hr).

The b&b was just over mile away from the station which was nice considering the amount I was carrying.

The room in the b&b was really nice and had a microwave which was handy.

So I went out to buy some food for the pre race meal, I went back into Hull to what I must say is the best Tesco i have ever been in, it seriously has everything.

I got what I needed and headed back to the b&b for a feast and a early night to catch up on sleep.

I woke up at 8:30am and headed for breakfast Weetabix, soya milk banana then mushrooms and backed beans on toasted flatbread. YUM

Went back to the room and stayed there as long as I was allowed too (midday).

So around 1pm I headed to Hull Station for a train to Hessle (7 min journey) which is the nearest station to the Humber Bridge.

Got to the Hessle and made my way to the Humber Bridge Country Park.

Arriving at around 2:30pm I thought I would be a little to early to pitch my tent what with      4 & 1/2hrs to go until the event started but there were already a few people putting tents up.

So off I go to pitch me tent, I’m getting quicker at putting it up with this being only the third time I’ve do it.

So with my tent up it was time to prepare all of my nutrition for the event, I’m a vegan so I started to make my avocado, peanut butter and banana wraps, I made about 5 knowing that some of them would not be eaten until after the race due to the impact the gels and hi carb bars have on your appetite.

I also set out my cans of coconut water and caffeine & energy gels and sort all the various bit of clothing I had bought for all type of weather, attached my race number to my number belt and sat down to have some food before the start.

It’s great meeting all different types of people at these events from first timers to the very experienced and each with a story to tell.

So as 7pm was nearly upon us we all made are way to the start line and there was a count down 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 and we’re off for a journey we’re never going to forget.

The first part of the route is a slight incline around to the start of the bridge crossing passing the toll and the wind sock (that never seemed to move) once on the bridge the surface is pretty much the same the whole way across, apart for the sections of yellow bumps across the path telling you to slow down.

Nearing the other side of the bridge you are greeted by a slight downhill section which is a nice recovery and then the turnaround point with a very friendly Marshall giving you all the encouragement you need and table of gels to help yourself to if you need, there was also a toilet there if you needed it, but I didn’t use that one as I didn’t fancy the uphill slog coming back for it.

I didn’t really have a race plan, with this being my second ultra marathon.

In my first one I completed in 55 miles 12 hrs but on a very different course ( wet, windy, cold, muddy, undulating) and this being pretty much the opposite so hard to compare.

The first few crossings of the bridge went well with a steady pace being set, buy the 10th mile I started to get a shooting pain down my left outer thigh which I found strange as this has never happened to me before, I just dropped to a slightly slower pace and when I got to my ten I took for paracetamol to ease the pain, this work for a couple of loops.

As I said earlier the course it pretty much flat with slight incline and decline at each end of the bridge which can catch you out as they are very deceptive in a long event like this one.

In the race you could complete as a team or as an individual doing a 6hr time or 12hr time, so as you can imagine you have people running at lot of different speeds,so I think it’s important to stick with your pace and what you have in mind as a min/ mile, I went for between 9-15 min miles.

I think this race has a lot to do with strength of the mind in the sense that you are running over the same strip over and over and over again for 6/12 solid hours so it’s hard for everyone for not get bored.

What really helped with that was the camaraderie that was going on between all of the competitor was great, this makes all the difference I think and also added a bit a fun the the event.

I managed to stick to my min/mile pace schedule until my left knee started to twitch at which point to thought oh *&%$% not again, so back to the tent it was for some more paracetamol.

The pain was coming and going and I ran for some point at a really going pace, I think I wanted to break the 55 mile point as to better my past race performance.

By 4am the pain was getting bad so a had to walk for the rest of my race (gutted), I tried to run  but it was to painful. (got to let the head rule the heart at some point).

So I had 3 hours of fast walking to do…there was NO WAY i was getting a DNF (did not finish). it this event if your doing the 6 hr race you have to still being running until 1am to get a finisher t-shirt and in the 12hr race running until 6am.

It’s always hard in races when you get overtaken by other competitors but you just have to keep a strong mind a push on.

It got 6:25am and I was on the part of my 52nd mile and approaching the finishing line, as I crossed it thought I should have time to do 1 more crossing of the bridge what with 35mins to go I should be ok, even with a bad knee.

So off I went for the final crossing of the bridge, it was a very painful one but it felt great aswell cause I had not given in to the pain which its always a GREAT feeling.

As I approached to end of the crossing there was a Marshall there marking that we had completed the crossing and offering a lift back across the bridge in a minibus which a gratefully accepted.

I got into the mini bus and there were a few runners already inside, it was great hearing everybody’s race experiences. Got back to race village and back to my tent to start sorting out everything your the journey home.

I didn’t want to lie down cause all my legs and body would stiffen up, so I started to pack my thing up and take down my tent.

After saying my goodbyes until next year or maybe before as I hear they have a Halloween humber event event in October which is a 6hr event which I will defiantly be up for.

So off the hull catch the train from Hessle to bough then to Leeds, wait 6hrs for my train to London Kings Cross and then a bus home…

Until my next event report….Happy racing