I was rather nervous going into this race, as I had never tackled a 6 hour race before, though I have ran plenty of marathons and completed the Portsmouth Harbour 50K in 2017. Being a looped course, I could easily grab nutrition as I went round - Big Bear even asked on entry, if you have any preferences for that sugar rush to pick your feet up again. I supplied myself with a bag containing some energy gels, and fruit, got a reusable trail cup and, after a pre-race briefing, we lined up at the start.
Inevitably, I went off a little fast, but soon settled into a steady 9 minute mile pace, with my aim to keep running for 9 minutes then walk for 1 minute. From previous experience, I was aware that this would eventually flag, but I was determined to keep going as long as I could to my plan. The marshals were enthuisiastic & encouraging and the race was extremely well organised, down to the signs "I bet you didn't notice this hill on lap 1" / "Pain is French for bread", which helped to keep us motivated.
I tried not to worry about the time - looking at your watch, resisting the temptation to realise you have been running for 3 and a half hours, your legs are beginning to feel dead, and you still have a long way to go. The temptation to stop and rest creeps in. However, this for me would have been a big mistake - I would have lost my rhythm and my muscles would chill and need reheating again. So I carried on plodding round - run / walk; run / walk - though the walks got a little longer, the hills got a little steeper, with each lap. I was carried on by the camaraderie and sportsmanship of my fellow runners. I repeated an internal mantra "keep going, you can do it".
The course is off-road, on a compacted path, which stood up well to 80 runners pounding round it for 6 hours - the soft ground underfoot at least was kind on the joints. Mentally, the race is tough - it was a cold day, perfect for running, but as the sun crept upwards in the sky, the heat began to tell, so I took off my running jacket, and ran in a vest - this picked me up in the latter part of the race and I got a second wind, having struggled at the 20 mile mark. Eventually, I finished, arms aloft with joy, legs trying to carry me into something resembling a sprint. I had completed 10 laps - 33 miles - the furthest I have ever ran, and celebrated with the welcome free bottle of beer in the goody bag!
Highly recommended for anyone contemplating their first ultramarathon - a great value, well organised race.
A brilliant experience where runners can come together to compete with themselves. No worries about how your going to feel as at the most your around 1.5 miles from the finish, a great way to build mileage in a safe environment. My second event, both in the winter and thoroughly enjoyed them. Snacks and volunteers are amazing
Very friendly atmosphere for my first big bear event. Weather was fine, location was beautiful and runners of all abilities encouraged each other to dig deep in the true sportsperson style. I was unsure what to expect but my nerves were very soon put to rest by the volunteers and runners I soon settled into my pace and proudly ran my first ultra. Thank you to all that made the day possible. See you again real soon