Ultra 12 – 12 Hour Race

Ultra 12 – 12 Hour Race
Date: 9-10 August 2014
Distance: As many 5 mile laps as you can
Time: 12:02:11
Actual Distance Ran: 8 laps – 40 miles

I was consider doing a 24 hours race so thought I had better do a 12 hour one first. However, they are surprisingly difficult to find and all seem to be at night. So I picked Ultra 12 as even though it was a new race, the organisers and sponsors have a good reputation.

I had not had much time to train recently due to other commitments so was slightly concerned about running for 12 hours. However, have done a few races that have taken over 12 hours so not too concerned.

I arrived at the site and found the camping area for soloist, there was a separate area for teams and pairs. Scanned around and the area by the start finish was already full. However, found an area by the course and set my tent up. This would allow my to run past and grab anything I needed.

I organised my tent so drinks, food, head torch and spare kit where laid out in door nearest the course, whilst I used the other door for getting in and out. Glad I decided to buy a tent with two doors now as otherwise I would need to clamber over my stuff to get in and out.

I got some food and relaxed for a while, before getting ready and making my way over to the race briefing. Briefing done we made our way to the start line ready for the off at 7:00pm. 7:00pm came and we where still waiting, I think there was a problem organising the 50km start across the other side of the field. A few minutes later and we where off.

The course ran around Beale Park and consisted of some runs around fields, a tarmac road, more fields, a foot path along the Thames, around a small car park, down an access road, around another field and then around the woods before coming back to the start.

They had described the course as pancake flat. Must have been some lumpy batter is all I can say. Not hilly and no more than 5 meters of climb in any one bit. Under foot was another matter, the fields we slightly rough so you had to be careful with your footing.

The first lap was ok. Difficult to work out what everyone was doing as there was a mix of races going on at the same time, a 50km, a 50 mile, then the 12 hour solo, pairs and teams. This made pacing the first lap a bit of an issue as I have to keep reminding myself to run at my own pace, rather than at the pace of others as we where not all doing the same race.

First lap done and it was rather too quick. I wanted to run somewhere between 11 and 14 minute miles to try to do somewhere between 50 and 65 miles, so around an hour a lap, but this was 9:48 pace, so 47:28 for the first lap. Not too concerned just means I can run some of the later laps a bit slower.

Second lap, also a bit too quick 48:34, 10:06 pace. Again not that concerned just means I have banked 25 minutes I can use later.

Third lap, backup head torch on. It was starting to get dark, but didn’t warrant my super bright, 700 lumen, Ay-Up head torch. I was concerned about the 8 hour battery not lasting the distance, so wanted to hold off using it as long as possible.

Started to feel a bit sick, not sure why not eaten anything usual. By the end of the lap I had nearly thrown up twice and now had stomach cramps. However, lap 3 done in 57:27, 11:55 pace.

At the start of lap 4 switched over to my Ay-Up head torch, re-filled my water bottle, and grabbed some loo roll, just in case. Around a mile and a half in was a toilet by the first marshal point, so I thought I would use this one rather than the ones by the start/finish as these had run out of paper just before the start, and would have meant me back track down the course to use them.

Arrived at the  toilet and went. Other than being fairly large, it was normal. I still felt sick but the stomach cramps had subsided. As I made my way around the course, the sickness went and but the stomach cramps where back. Decided to take some of the time I had banked to see if I can sort this out and then end of the next lap. So lap 4 done in 1:24:38.

Being of lap 5 made my way around to my tent. Stomach cramp quiet bad now. I refilled the water bottles, and mixed some Pepsi with water and sat on the cool box. Suddenly felt cold, well it was dark and I had stop moving, so I pulled on a base layer. Then started to shiver uncontrollably.

This was not normal, it was not cold as it was still around 20c. Need to sort this out, so climbed into the tent, zipped it up and climbed into the sleeping bag to get warm. Still shivering, so grabbed my spare clothes, put them on and climbed back into the bag. Took about 15 minutes to stop shivering. Tried to work out what had caused it and if I should try to continue. I laid there for a while and tried to work out the best course of action. Should I phone the race organises mobile number and get him to send the medics, should I pull out of the race and go home, or wait and see what happens. So I waited a bit longer.

30 minutes and I was still cold but feeling better. However, I could hear that it had started to rain. I knew this was a possibility. However, the weather reports suggested that it would hold off until the morning, and it was 11:30pm. I thought it best to stay warm and dry for a while longer, didn’t want to get half way around the course and start shivering again and be miles from warmth, and the rain would be another factor.

The rain got heavier and I could hear people climbing into cars and tents, just the occasional shuffle of feet as someone ran past. I lay there trying to work out what clothing I had, in the tent and what was in the bag. My running tights and waterproof trousers where in the car, so I would need to get cold and wet to get these, and then try to dry off before putting them on. The best course of action was to wait it out.

Rather than laying there I eat a MuleBar bar and drank the water Pepsi mix I had made earlier. I was feeling ok now, not great, still had some stomach pain, and my legs had stiffened up a bit. The rain was still heavy so I started to work out what I would need from the car and how to go about getting this. Then the rain seemed to ease off, so just put on my waterproof jacket, slipped on a hat and decided to give it a go, as had been sat in that tent for almost 3 hours. It was almost 2am.

Started slowly, to get my legs going, then started running. Felt a bit of a fraud as I passed people and they said well done, or some such phrase. However, they didn’t look like drown rats so I assume they also had taken the dry for a while. Looking at the average pace on my watch was interesting as large chunks of time dropped off with every step. Finished, lap 5 in 4:00:11.

Lap 6 Swung by the tent to grab some gels, bars and changed the water bottle. I walked for a while whilst I eat a MuleBar bar and considered plan B. With 3 hours lost and my stomach still not feeling great, how many laps could I do. As long as I cross the start line before the 12 hour limit I could continue the lap. However, needed to be done by 8:00am.

If I ran I could do a lap in around an hour, with running and walking about an 1:15 and with walking alone 1:30. With a marathon done and I knew I would have 30 miles done and about 3:30 – 4 hours left of the clock. The more I ran the more my stomach ached, the more I walked the more my legs and feet hurt.

So I ran until my stomach hurt, then walked until my legs and feet hurt. Lap 6 done in 1:14:43.

Lap 7 ran walked until the pain in my stomach was the great and then kept walking. I knew I could now do 8 laps, if I was able to push it 9 may. However, would need to finish lap 7, 8 and 9 in around 1:15 each. Lap 7 completed in 1:23:12 and the sun was up.

Lap 8. Unlikely I could get a 9th lap in, so relax as much as possible and get this one done. Dropped of the head torch, picked up another bottle and walked around the course, thanking the marshals on the way. They where brilliant, up all night and still cheerful.

Lap 8 done in 1:26:00 so 12:02:16 for 40 miles. Happy with that considering the issues.

Heavens opened again as I tried to pack up my stuff, great fun packing up a tent in the wind and rain. As I drove home I tried to work out what had caused the issues. Could it be something I eat earlier, had I drank too much, drank to little, was the time of day a factor upsetting my body clock. Guess I’ll never know, but think the time of day was a major factor and may have been better of eating a big meal for breakfast, a light lunch and then my usual breakfast a few hours before. Plenty of time to consider this as spent an extra 1 and half hours on the M25 due to an earlier incident.

As a new event, I could not fault the organisation and the marshals where superb. Couple of minor grips but nothing that would stop me from doing the event again.

Equipment used:-
Inov-8 Race 3 3 litre waist pack.
Inov-8 Race Ultra 0.25 soft bottles.
Inov-8 Trailroc 235 shoes
Garmin Fenix 2 GPS watch
Petzl Tikka head torch (backup for main)
Ay-Up head torch (main head torch)
Compress calf guards
Injinji Trail 2.0 socks
Club t-shirt
2XU shorts
Craft base layer
Craft hat
Montane Minimus waterproof jacket.
Vango Chinook 200 tent