Already 15 minutes behind schedule, I got to Edgware Road at 6:50 - ten minutes to panic jog to Marylebone for the 7:00 to Princes Risborough - start and finish of the race. I collapsed onto the train - 06:58, made it!
At 07:35 when the two following trains to Princes Risborough had left, they finally announced to my train (which had gone nowhere) that there had been a problem with one of the carriages - which was fixed! and then problem with the radio - which was fixed! and then a problem I could hear over the sound of polite(ish) complaining from the passengers. Train was cancelled.
There were around a dozen runners on my train, so we filed over to the 07:48. Very late now. Thankfully we were met at the station by a nice person from XNRG who gave us a lift to the school - venue for race control.
Race briefing for the 9am starters
Just got there in time to dump my kit bag for later, and get outside for the race briefing. Before I knew it - we were off.
This is a 50km race around the Chilterns - and whilst there are none of the Lake District style peaks and valleys, there's no shortage of ups and downs. We set off in a big group along a fairly narrow track, spirits were high and just like the start of every ultra, most people were going to fast. Unfortunately I probably was too - being swept along in the rush.
Thankfully we hit a climb soon and everyone slowed to a walk - and from then on there was enough room to run/jog/walk as each of us saw fit.
Aid stations were at roughly 10km intervals. The first came round in just over an hour, and I was feeling good. The second arrived another hour and a bit later, and I was still feeling good - even better after a square of marmite sandwich. More aid stations should have savoury foods! (what I really fancied was a square of cheese - having breakfasted on the train of a bag pork scratchings but no chance of cheese!).
The third 10km section was a bit longer, with more walking. The nice thing about ultras is you can go at your own pace, it's all about getting to the end - the time is secondary (unless you're in it for the win). For this one, there was a walking option, with walkers starting at 8am, then the masses at 9am, and elites at 10am. During the third 10km section I was overtaken by the lead elite - he'd made an hour on me in just two and a half hours - wow!
The third aid station was particularly welcome as they had mini cocktail sausages - hurrah! Annoyingly, by now my feet were getting a bit sore and I decided to do some more walking. This section, from aid station three to four, was the longest in time, distance, and effort.
I'd been out to the area a couple of times to look at the route, but there were some big changes from the previous years, in particular here - so most of it was unfamiliar. Thankfully aid station four finally arrived, at 41.5km a little later than expected.
I stopped here for a few minutes, and had a little sit down too. My feet were quite painful on the heel - the lack of sleep over the previous week (very busy work week) had left me tired and not keeping good form - I'd fallen into a more heel-first step than I'm used to, and it was getting painful.
The final stretch followed, just 8.5km to go. I walked most of it, with some jogging when I felt like it. After averaging around 8km/hour for the first four hours I'd slowed down and knew I was going to miss my notional 6 hour target, but I knew I'd get to the end.
Nice touch - a print out of the race telemetry
I finally passed under the finishing gantry back at the school in 6:54 - slower than intended, but without any injuries. This is the furthest I've run without my old knee/ITB issue kicking in. For me, that's a winning day.
I was planning on a quick shower, but the nice people at XNRG were giving lifts back to the station, so I didn't - my apologies to anyone who was within 10 feet of me during my journey home.
Couldn't smile much more than this by the end!
Total time 06:54:25
107th out of 217 finishers, 81st male finisher
Time Start to CP1 (approx 10km) 01:08:21
Time CP1 to CP2 (approx 10km) 01:08:22
Time CP2 to CP3 (approx 10km) 01:12:58
Time CP3 to CP4 (approx 12km) 01:56:26
Time CP4 to Finish (approx 8km) 01:28:18
Full results are here
Thanks to Mrs for buying me a hoodie when she signed me up - super comfy, fits perfectly