Unsurprisingly, a four day ultra marathon leaves me with quite a lot to write about, but as my brain still isn’t functioning correctly, I wanted to get a few of my initial thoughts down before writing my full review in the next few weeks.
The Cotswold Way Challenge was held by Run101 events, and is a multi day ultra marathon event. They transfer your kit to a campsite for the end of each day, and you run between them down the Cotswold Way.
1. It’s slow
I’m aware this shouldn’t be surprising, but I don’t think I was prepared for just how slow. The London Marathon was slow, but this was that multiplied by four.
I’d been doing my training runs at 13 minute miles, and I figured I’d slow to 15 minute miles out of respect for the distance and the hills. I did not manage a single 15 minute mile throughout all 98 miles. The Cotswolds are very hilly, very very very hilly, and when you add that to stiles, gates, cows, sheep, roads, there’s no way I was going to hit my anticipated speed.
2. I need sleep
I love camping. It’s so cosy going to sleep in your tent, on your double air mattress, wrapped in your fluffy foot pod sleeping bag with a duvet on top for extra warmth.
It’s not cosy when you’re limited to a single bag for the four days, that you have to fit your sleeping bag in. A single bed roll, and your mate’s super compressible sleeping bag, are neither comfortable nor warm. I’m sure the bed roll would be comfortable after a day of light hiking, or a pub crawl, or quick cricket, but not after your third day and 70 miles. I spend Sunday night wearing all my clothes, including my thick winter coat, with an extra blanket stolen from the yoga tent, and I was still cold.
I genuinely think this event would be easier if you were able to sleep in a bed, in the warm, at the end of each day. But….. would it be as fun?
3. People are lovely
By the time the fourth and final day came around I was broken. Physically and mentally. The miles and the lack of sleep were definitely catching up on me.
It was at the first water stop that I started crying. Luckily, the Run101 staff and the medics were used to tears, and I got a hug and a Twix. I’m easily pleased. But from then on, I pretty much started crying every time I met someone. Staff members, fellow runners, strangers, any one. I sobbed at three lovely women “It’s just so far!”. They agreed with the deranged looking woman, gave her a hug, and sent her on her way. These were my trail angels.
I even called up the guy I’ve been dating for about six weeks and had a cry at him. He coped with an over emotional me very well, and we’ve since arranged another date, so thankfully I didn’t put him off.
Currently, I’m in a lot of pain, I have a sports massage in a couple of hours which will hopefully help, my legs feel like they have growing pains, my brain can’t function even after two cups of coffee, and I feel a bit sick.
But I loved it.
I’m now researching single day ultras, I want the high, but without the missed sleep. South Coast Challenge anyone?