I completed the Round Ripon 35 miles Ultra-Marathon on Saturday, but in a slower time than hoped, although the course was as much about navigating as running, so it wasn’t conducive to continuous running.
Ambitions Out the Window – Keep Running
I was originally hoping to run it all and aiming for 7 hours in line with my canal towpath training, but ambitions to run it all went out the window as we left Studley Royal village, with a stile to get onto the single file country track causing a log jam and walking pace.
I could have got lost lots of times, and even other people with more map-reading skills were struggling or getting it wrong, with the map very basic (we were advised that the map provided was the minimum) and not many signs around the course, and finally ended up getting a little lost after checkpoint 4, on the last stage to finishing line.
After starting at 9am, the people who were at checkpoint 4 with me at around 3pm finished at around 8 hours or lower, but I ended up at 8.43.
So a bit disappointed with the end, and time, but it could have been a lot worse, as I was following other people most of the time and getting directions, as well as working out the way a few times.
Physical Test not Exhausting
It was my first ultra-marathon, and very different to the four marathons I’ve run, which were all on tarmac. So, it was a learning experience, and the most more difficult than marathons part was not the extra 9 miles; rather, it was the not knowing if you were going the right way or going to get lost.
I could probably do better if I do another one, but I have no plans to at the moment! I think I could do longer distances within the maximum times, a 50 at least, but don’t know if it’s enough of a challenge, with a lot of walking involved.
I wasn’t that tired at the end, with lots of stopping and walking up the many steep hills, as is the ultra-marathon technique for maybe all but the fittest.
I have felt just as tired after my normal distance marathons, when I’ve been racing to achieve my best time.
I walked the few miles back to Ripon after the race, with my legs not feeling that tired. They have seized up a bit since though.
I also walked a few miles home from the city yesterday, to end my running season, and wind the legs down some more, with the dry sunny weather lasting the week out until today!
Good Running Season
It’s been a great spring and summer of running, achieving more than I’d imagined at the start, with this year only supposed to be practise for next year originally; when I plan to run my fifth marathon, fulfilling an ambition set after my first one in 2004 to run a marathon every three years until 2016, when I’ll be 50.
I actually turned 50 last week, so this ultra-marathon is a bonus added onto my original ambition. I therefore had a more relaxed attitude to it, which is just as well, because it wasn’t like I thought; but a more rewarding experience in some ways because of that.
It’s another achievement, although running 31 miles in training probably gave me more pleasure, and was more what I was looking for – to test how far I could continuously run. I think I could have continued for 35 miles that day, with the mostly flat and straight canal towpath a lot different to the Ripon Rowell.
Great Social and Scenic Experience
The Round Ripon was also a very nice day and experience as well, with lots of helpful people organising it, and out on the course, and good camaraderie amongst the runners. The course was also very scenic, with a mixture of hilltop moorland and forests, running along the River Ure for a while, and some lakes too.
I probably dropped about 20-30 places in the final stage, but it wasn’t really about places at all, with people helping each other out with directions etc.
My personal highlights were picking up some speed running through a wood between hours 1-2, imagining myself a native or wolf; leading a few people through the village of Masham, after remembering there were directions in the map; and a herd of deer running across the track in the last mile, through the Studley Royal Deer Park – I don’t know how common that sight is, but it was worth a little bit of the getting lost to see it.