Weald Challenge – 50km

Weald Challenge 50km Ultra
Date: 25th May 2014
Distance: 50km
Elevation: 753 m
Time: 7:03:10

As my plans for this particular weekend changed a few weeks before, I had not planned to do this event. I was just looking around at various races and this one popped up. I thought “Its only 50km how hard can it be” so I booked it without a second thought.

I had not done any long runs since the Brighton Marathon several weeks before and would not have much time to train before hand. However, this event was just going to be a long training run for events I have later in the year.

I arrived with plenty of time to spare, picked up my number and a map. The map was just in case. I had the route loaded into my Garmin eTrex 20 and they said it was well marked. However, can never be under prepared when it comes to navigation on an ultra.

I made my way pre race briefing and then to the start and bang on time at 8:00am we where of.

The first  mile were on road. Interesting experience as we followed a lead car through the village until we hit the Weald Way. This first part of the course was very deceptive and gave no real indication of what was to come.

Running across fields on a large open path, plenty of space to pass and be passed so you could find your own pace and not worry about holding people up or being held up by others.

After another mile the trail pops out through a village and then into some woods. This is when we started to meet the first of many styles and gates.

This first part of the course was flatish ran through fields and small wooded area. On a couple of occasion running across corn fields, before coming to the first checkpoint. These where well stocked with all manner of biscuits, sweets, Torq bars and gels (they where a sponsor) and a choice of water or coke.

This first checkpoint was the half marathon split and we would visit this on the return leg.

I filled my bottle and realized I had not drunk a great deal. I was hot and I should have been drinking more.

The next part of the course was a gently climb, more styles and gates. The occasional narrow section but by this time the field had thinned out so was not an issue. Passing through some more villages and past a luxury hotel. We came a major road crossing. Seemed to have to wait for ages to cross.

The next checkpoint was the marathon split. From here we kept climbing. I was expecting this as the course profile had a big lump in the middle and was not concerned out the slowing in pace as I was sure I could make this up on the other side of the lump.

As we reached the highest point of the course and the half way point I was getting ready for some downhill action. However, it never seemed to come. It was either flat or up hill. I ran the flat and the downhill, and walked these uphill bits. Some of the wooded sections where very muddy and some where unrunable.

At the next checkpoint (and major road crossing) I though we would be into the downhill section. It was for a about a km then seems to either be flat or uphill again.

This section seemed to go on for ever so much so I had almost drained both bottles by the time I reached the next checkpoint. This part of the course was narrow and undulating before changing to a long road section. This was killing already tired legs.

Last checkpoint and 5km to go.  More road into a very narrow path so much so I was squeezing past bushes. Across a couple of fields and onto the road to a uphill finish.

Not overly impressed by my time. However, considering I had not conditioned myself for this and it was more climb than I was expecting I was not disappointed.

In all a great course. Very well-marked with signs and marker tape. When you came to a turn there was a massive pink arrow on the ground. Hence I only pulled my GPS map out on a few occasions but only to check I had not missed a turn and was still on track.

Was in two mind of what shoes to wear but with the amount of road (around 25% of the course) and full off-road shoes would have been a mistake.

Checkpoint volunteers where very friendly and could have been more helpful. I was actually very surprised it was the first time the event had been held as the organisation was impeccable.

Equipment used:-
Ultimate Direction PB race vest with Ultimate Direction bottles
Mulebar Gels and Bars (4 gels and 3.5 bars)
Garmin Fenix 2 GPS watch
Garmin eTrex20 handheld navigation
Inov-8 Trailroc 150 shoes
Compress calf guards
Injinji Trail 2.0 socks
Club t-shirt
2XU shorts