Well, a month after the Lakeland 100 I find myself at the starting line of another Ultra. It’s only 50k, a marathon distance really, so I’m expecting it to be a fast race. My aim of the day is simple to run as close to 7 min miles as possible. My training over the last 3 months has been long endurance runs with plenty of hills and the odd faster session (very few!) so I haven’t really got the speed in my legs for the shorter distances. Also, my recovery after the Lakeland 100 has been arduous to say the least. First I had to take a whole week off exercise (my ankles took this long to return to normal size!) and it took a while for my hip flexor to return to normal. I’ve also been feeling pretty lethargic and ravenous (I’ve become addicted to biscuits and flapjacks!). It’s been a long recovery but I’m feeling ok at the start. I know I’ve got the stamina, just not the speed.
It’s the inaugural Nottingham Ultra and has been organised by Rory Coleman and Jen Salter of ULTRArace™. There are only about 60 runners at the start but its bright blue skies, a fantastic day for a run! The route follows the Robin Hood Way through Sherwood Forest into Nottingham, finishing at the castle. The route is way marked, however these are at best sparse/worn in places so are supplemented with way markings provided by ULTRArace™ along with a route map. 9am soon arrives and we’re off.
Checkpoint 1: Blidworth to Moor Road, Nr Papplewick
Distance: 11.34km Time: 00:47:58 Pace: 06:48 min/mi
Although my initial plan was to run 7 min/mi, Stephen Shanks runs off ahead. My competitive side kicks in and I chase after him. The first section is pretty flat and I comfortable tuck in beside Stephen until we hit a couple of hills towards the end and I take a little lead into the first checkpoint.
Checkpoint 2: Mill Lane, Bestwood
Distance: 8.61km Time: 00:42.02 (01:30:00) Pace: 07:51 m/m
We continue our battle for the next couple of km until we realise that we’ve pretty much running at the same pace. I always like chatting to people on the run so I open up a conversation. We’re soon chatting about the usual runners stuff (what races have you done etc etc) and take our minds away from racing. The lack of concentration causes us to go off piste a couple of times and naturally our pace slows down too much.
Checkpoint 3: Maws Lane, Kimberley
Distance: 10.42km Time: 00:46:00 (02:16:00) Pace: 07:06 m/m
Realising that I’m feeling way too comfortable, I pick up the pace and hit the trail harder. Stephen sticks with me but there’s less conversation this time.
Checkpoint 4: Coventry Lane, Bramcote
Distance: 10.58km Time: 00:52:00 (03:08:00) Pace: 07:54 m/m
We arrive and leave the checkpoint together and immediately take a wrong path. Luckily we realise after about a mile and soon get back on track. We do this a couple of times and get back into “chatting mode”. Again this causes us to relax and naturally slow our pace.
Finish: Nottingham Castle, Castle Road
Distance: 09.95km Time 00:46:42 (03:54:40) Pace: 07:32 m/m
We leave the final checkpoint and I ask what the plan is. Do we race it out or continue together. We decide to see how the next mile or so goes but agree that we don’t mind if we finish together. I think we had got to the point where we had run so much of the race together, we were simple relaxed and were just enjoying the race. Obviously this took the competitive edge out of the race but to be honest I was just enjoying the run out in the sunshine. With about 2 miles to go Stephen asks if we want to race it out. I honestly wasn’t bothered either way and I don’t think either was he so we just carried on and cruised to the finish line in joint 1st.
Distance: 50km Time: 03:54:40 Pace: 07:33 min/mi
The Nottingham Ultra was a nice event and the route was pretty rural and flat. It has the potential to be a very fast course and with it being incorporated into the ULTRArace™ championship next year, I would expect competition and times to be a lot better next time. I was a little disappointed with my own performance because I relaxed too much and let it become more of a training run then an actual race. But, at the end of the day I enjoyed myself and that is what running is all about.