May bank holiday weekend 2016 marked my first stab at a 100 miler in the Hardmoors 110 only 6 weeks after my victory in the HM55 and I was chuffed to also come away with a win but it wasn’t all plain sailing…
I’d ran the 55 very hard, so gave myself a week off for recovery, training wise I kept myself ticking over with nothing more than the marathon distance for my Sunday runs, my average weekly mileage anywhere between 60-80 miles plus my daily core/stretching exercises with just a week to taper down before the race.
I don’t like bogging myself down with plans, I don’t like predicting splits and times I’ll get to checkpoints, it ruins my enjoyment of the race, I like to go with the flow, get into my running and enjoy the views.
A nutrition plan is an essential though for a 100, for this race I used the whole Mountain Fuel system. Night Fuel, Morning Fuel plus Mountain fuel pancakes for breakfast and Extreme fuel during the race, I also used Chia Charge bars, my crew packed melon, bananas,jelly,chocolate and a pot of jam, they bought me a bacon and cheese Panini at Saltburn (mile 53) plus I ate at most aid stations, I started eating within the first hour of the race, taking in small amounts regularly.
The pace was insane at the start, Paul Nelson took off in his trademark Usain Bolt style! I tried not to get sucked in and hung out at the back of the lead pack, probably still sub 8 min/mile pace, which isn’t sustainable so I decided to slow down and not worry if they got too far in front.
For such a cool start to the day the sun was quite hot around midday and I started to struggle a little, it was my legs they just felt like jelly, I had enough energy and I had no stomach issues at all throughout the race. Maybe it was pacing, I’m pretty confident at running a 50 miler but with the 110 I had to slow my usual pace down and maybe my legs just wasn’t used to it and by Runswick Bay (mile 41) sorting myself out so I could finish was my main priority ( a bad patch at this stage of the 55, I would just of gritted my teeth and got through it, different prospect with 70 miles to go) so I took a little time out, had a word with myself, got my massage roller out and got some life back into my legs.
It’s a funny old game this ultra lark because by the time I got to Saltburn (mile 53) I was cruising and smiling my head off, I don’t think I’ve ever felt better in my life! I’d caught everyone up and left that aid station in the lead! Fast forward 1 hour and I’m in dire straits again, I’d rushed out of Saltburn on a high and forgot to pick up my S-Caps, I’ve noticed in races I need extra salt if not I cramp up in the calves, I’d drained my soft flask of Extreme fuel, was running low on water and cramping with Roseberry Topping coming up before I met my crew. Jason Millward past me asked if I was OK and kindly gave me an S-Cap which just about got me to my crew stop at Gribdale Gate. (mile 65)
This was a pivotal moment in the race for me, I sat down swapped socks, tops switched to my La Sportiva Helios which are more suited to the rocky sections, got some sugar in me via strawberry jam, necked some S-Caps, filled up on Mountain Fuel and off I went, I’d been passed by nearly everyone I had passed earlier and lay in about 5th position. With darkness looming I arrived at Kildale and 3 runners were still there, so I had a cup of tea and we practically all left together. I was back on it and feeling good again! I opened a gap on the other 3 up to Blowarth crossing and was now 2nd, game on! I loved the night section it took me back to my Army days and I was gaining on 1st place.
At Lord Stones he was less than 5 mins in front. How much do I want it?
At the top of the climb I could see head torches but was in no rush, I passed through Scugdale and decided to make my move with about 25 to go, I flew past Jason and his pacer as quick as I could hoping to demoralize them and kept going opening a gap of maybe 5-10 mins. Next up Osmotherley Square Corner CP to pick up my pacer and best friend Bryn, who’s not really a runner, who I persuaded to run after he’d had a few beers and who has now retired from running! Bryn was exceptional though, it was freezing cold and he did his job and kept me moving at a good pace and reassured me we wasn’t getting caught as I was now totally paranoid and looking back every 5 mins.
The last 3 miles felt like 30 but we had a laugh and brought it home in 1st place in 21 hours 3 mins 54 secs.
An amazing experience, I’d come back from the brink a couple of times and learned a lot about myself.