Sunday 3rd October 2021
And so it begins...7.55am - just 50k to go!
Well, we did it! The three of us - GS Alfie, son Ben, and myself - set off at 7.55 yesterday morning, and arrived back at 7.25 yesterday evening. So 11 hours 30; actual walking time was 9.38. We had 3 pitstops, one in a rural cafe, one at a local shop in one of the villages we walked though, and the main one, just after the halfway point, back at my son's house, where we changed into some dry clothing.
Conditions were OK - it was a bit chilly early on, around 10C, and it was overcast - pretty good really.
12.44 - it had been raining for over 2 hours at this point and the previously very dry trails were beginning to show puddles here and there.
But it didn't stay that way! The forecast said to expect rain about 11am, but it began to rain about 10 - nothing heavy, but it was steady. The forecast I had seen showed green patches of rain over the Chilterns throughout the day - with the green turning to purple, which indicated heavier rain, for most of it. And so it proved. As soon as it began to rain I donned my poncho - hoping to keep my rucksack dry, and that worked, after a fashion. The rain steadily grew heavier, in line with the forecast. It wasn't comfortable, but there was nothing for it but to plough on. I have a mantra I bring out on these occasions, gleaned from one of the Rich Roll podcasts - "Being comfortable with being uncomfortable."
One of the joys of that first couple of hours was that we had wonderful views of loads of Red Kites, soaring and swooping around us - sometimes just overhead. When the main diet here in the SW is the odd buzzard, this was a treat indeed!
I learned a few things about endurance events, and myself, yesterday. One of them was that once it had been raining steadily for a longish period - say over an hour - rain became the norm, and it no longer bothered us. We all agreed on this. Another was that once my feet were wet - and this was inevitable, since the puddles eventually became too big to avoid - some time after the squelching had gone, my feet began to feel warm and dry again. They weren't, of course, but they felt OK. This was more noticeable with my Asics road trainers than with my Inov8 trail shoes. I had started off wearing my trail shoes, went to change socks at the halfway point, but didn't want to put dry socks into wet shoes - so I rather stupidly put on my dry trainers - which became soaked within 10 minutes of getting back on track!
14.32 - by now we'd got used to the rain, and just accepted it.
|15.34 - Glad to get out of these wet shorts! And, taking note of Paul Millson's advice to keep warm, I donned a pair of joggers and an extra fleece which I'd been carrying in my rucksack. So the poncho worked on my top half, at least.|
Knowing that vegan food would possibly be hard to find on the route, I had brought with me a couple of Gregg's vegan sausage rolls, and 4 pre-cooked Richmond meat-free sausages, plus, as a treat, a dozen dates stuffed with marzipan. I planned on having one of these every hour. In the event I had more than enough, and came home with 5 of the dates still uneaten. Not being a fan of hydrating with water, I took along a 1ltr flask with black coffee, and again, I still had half a mug left.
My son had the difficult task of guiding us around the route he had chosen, using a combination of his iPhone and Garmin watch. The rain was so persistent and heavy that he had trouble accessing the phone at times. But he kept us on track for the whole 50k - with about 75% trails and 25% roadwork.
I have to pay tribute to Alfie, who suffered a groin strain when he slipped early on - and he developed the odd blister But he never complained, and just got on with it. I saw a quote from Bob Unsworth, on The Ultra Challenge Club FB page, which I've relayed to Alfie: "Doing it without the adrenaline buzz of an event makes it that much more impressive.”
We did 48k in daylight - just the final 2 in darkness where we needed our head torches. In fact, as the light dwindled, so did the rain, finally. Just as we arrived home! Bloody typical! 😃😃
|19.26 - 3 smiling faces! And why wouldn't we be happy - we'd just smashed 50k in nine and a half hours in the pouring rain, and we only had hot showers, warm, dry clothing and hot or cold drinks and a takeaway in front of us!|
I can't begin to convey the feeling of satisfaction - along with some euphoria - that we all felt, as we finished. It had been a wonderful day, with some real highs, and one or two - very short in duration - lows, it must be said. But the opportunity to test ourselves, in our loved ones company, was something really special. A day I will savour for a long time - an occasion to remember, indeed!
A huge thanks to my supporters - the animals at Pear Tree Farm Sanctuary will also thank you. There's still time to donate - you'll find a link a little further down this blog.
These are the reason I'm fundraising - these guys will get to live out their whole lives in peace and freedom. Surrounded by nothing but love! But it costs money for feed, vets bills, etc. So any pennies you can spare will be hugely appreciated - and put to good use!
|I'll post their names, as soon as I find out from Bex at Pear Tree farm.|
One last thought about my ultra adventures - and my ambition is to do 50 of these before my 100th birthday - or three a year: We can all do more than we think we can! In fact, we can all do much more than we think we can!
(As a treat for reading this far, I give you my chocolate cake recipe, down the side of this post - you'll be glad you did! An 8" cake, with only 5 ingredients and costing around 40p! What's not to like?)
Monday 27th September 2021
I've been holding off posting this update, since my son was unable to arrange childcare for the Chiltern 50 ultra and we were casting around for something to take its place. So, we've had to go to plan B. We still intend to do a 50k - but this time a Virtual one - and plumped for the Virtual Challenge Trek to Kilimanjaro - 50k exactly, over the Chilterns - this coming weekend. And we're to be joined by my grandson, Alfie! But my fundraiser for Pear Tree Farm Sanctuary (link below)is still ongoing - I'm hoping to run it until the week ending 10th October.
My training is going well - walking about 70+km a week, ATM. And, whisper it quietly, I actually did some run/walk this morning, only for about a mile, but it's a start!
22nd August 2021
There's no doubt about it, at least in my experience, ultra marathons are addictive! My friend Alex, who also did the South West Coast 2 Coast last month - his first ultra - is now actively planning to do 10 ultras throughout 2022! And my son, Ben, who also did the ultra with me, took less than a week afterwards to start looking at his next ultra - the Chiltern 50. Then I started thinking about it, and decided - just yesterday - that I would like to do it with him.
Fundraising: When I did my 100k challenge last year, Dean Farm Sanctuary was the beneficiary; For the SWC2C challenge, Viva! benefited. I figure these two charities represent two sides of the same coin. So this time I'm going for another sanctuary - Pear Tree Farm Animal Sanctuary.
The ultra takes place on the 25th of September, so we have 5 weeks to prepare. I thought long and hard about funding it - it costs £130 to self-fund, but only £10 if I was to fund-raise for a charity. This would require me to raise £395 - over 5 weeks I thought this would be doable. But the problem with that is that half of the money has to be with the charity 3 weeks before the ultra.
So I've got 2 weeks to raise £200.
Please donate if you are able to - but if you're a bit short this month, I would appreciate it if you would share this among your friends. :)
Here's my Facebook fundraiser.
And I'm just about to start a fundraiser with Wonderful.org, recommended by Money Saving Expert, they take no commission - every penny goes to the charity - for those not on Facebook.