the production could also be called
- Flat Ultra
- For Gods sake give me a hill
- The Finale
2016 I followed CM (see below) via Facebook as she completed Saltmarsh. As it finishes not far from The Relics abode, and was logically (ahem) the next step up in the running challenges I thought why not? Why not run back to back Ultras, in flat Essex? Why not indeed?
38.2 miles (they lied) on day 1, 36.7 on day 2 (more lies) along the Essex coast
- The Relics-you have met these two before!
- Essex Running Buddy (ERB) previous posts where she has made a guest appearance are here and here we were neighbours, running buddies and had children in the same class, I loved running with her during our years together in Essex, unless she had, had a ‘domestic’ then it would be challenging to say the least due to her speed!
- Child minder runner (CM) – she first made an appearance on Shazuns here, but I we have met a few times since both at parkrun In Devon and Essex and both did the first Chelmsford Marathon, and this weekend was all her fault-see above
- Child minder’s mother (CMM)- CMM is lucky enough to have a place not far from me that she comes down from Essex and stays at in the warmer months and when she does we meet at Seaton for parkrun and then for tea.
- Mrs F work colleague and friend who has featured many times but here is one and another where she has featured
I headed out the Relics home Saturday morning and drove myself to the start about 45 minutes away. It was coldish with a slight breeze. Toilet stop, registered, filled in a survey on the mental state of an Ultra Runner (more involved than the tick this box if you are mad!) and then it was time to head out to the start. The walkers had set off and hour earlier. We soon thinned out and there was along line of us along the sea wall, like hi viz ants. I tried to concentrate on getting just to the next check point and not to think of the 30+ miles ahead of me. CP were at 5.2 miles, 13.9 miles, 27.5 miles, 30.8 miles and 35.1 miles. Unlike any other Ultra I have done, you could send food ahead to these CP’s. Of course the stops had their own food laid on, the usual sweets, cakes, crisps, water etc but its handy if you want something particular. My alarm was set to remind me to eat and I tried, but this is something I struggle with and on this occasion really struggled. The weather was dull, each of these pics have been brightened for your delectation
I was pleased to get up on to the concrete path for a while as most of the time the path had been uneven, grassy and tufty, least with the concrete you could pick up the pace a bit, only a bit. The hardest part was between CP3 and CP4, as this was over 13 miles, I was prepared for that though but the flies were an added challenge! Never have I seen so many flies, they were literally pinging off my face, at first I thought it was stones/grit/sand blowing off the beach then when I realised what it was and I kept my mouth firmly shut! I am sure my face must have resembled the bonnet of my car in the summer by the time the next mile was done. Huge thanks to the volunteers out on this stretch with the water and their cakes in containers! How horrendous for them!
On I plodded, I became aware of the need for a ‘comfort break’, mmmmmmm
I need some coverage!
Eventually a bush was found, but my it was touch and go for a while, I swayed between risking getting arrested for exposure (to be fair it would have been unlikely to see a policeman out there) or having an accident or worse traumatising another participant -like these flies weren’t enough!
At about 29 miles I was just turning the alarm off on my phone when I looked up to see RB there in front of me on the sea wall, totally unexpected (the last I heard she had rolled her foot and wasn’t running) oh but so absolutely fabulous to see her! She ran with me back to the next checkpoint where she sorted me out, (brain gone), then carried on a way before heading back. It was a real boost, fantastic to catch up on her news. I only had 8 miles to go and thought I could make it in under the 8 hours, and I would have done if the course was not 39.2 miles long! First day 8:07 hours
Glad to see the end of Act 1. But the toughest challenge was to come. What was tougher than running 39 miles? Climbing in to a Landrover Defender that’s what, do you know how high those things are off the ground? Then the challenge was not to be sick in the back as we bounced along the Essex roads back to our cars. Managed not to embarrass myself but it was touch and go. Also managed to just get back to the Relics in time to charge through the door direct to the bathroom before being sick in a quickly produced bucket!
Best part of the day by far was the warm bath, cup of tea, hot towel and pizza, great service from the Relics who took to the role of pampering butlers quite well!
After a bad nights sleep, where the legs, body and mind would not shut down or the nausea dissipate I got myself ready for day 2. The legs actually felt ok, just wish the sicky feeling would go away. The day was set to be nicer and started well with a great sunrise
The walkers and runners started together but we soon thinned out, the scenery was much the same FLAT, with the sea on your right! Soon we were approaching Maldon. When big Madam and I moved back to the UK we used to go there quite a bit, for her to play in the water, so it was nice to return and even nicer as I knew CM was going to be there but the added bonus was that CMM had come along also, terrific to see them. They suggested using the toilets, which as it happened was a great idea! CM ran with me for a way as we negotiated our way out of the town over the water to the other side. At each checkpoint you were given instructions, they were not always easy to follow but totally take on board that that might well be just me, I find it frustrating and would prefer a few signs up and about to point us in the right direction especially at that point where you could see no other competitor. CM left me and headed back once I was safe on the sea wall, but I will see her at parkrun in Devon soon.
On I trotted knowing that Mrs F would be waiting not far away, and there she was a vision in her yellow Mac, with a bottle of water and jelly babies. I stopped for a bit and then left them to have their lunch at that lovely spot (grrrr). Only another 13 miles and I would see them again. It was going to be a leisurely lunch for them I hoped.
I offered that boy in the photo big money for his skateboard and he wouldn’t take it!
Mile 20 the egg sandwich I tried so hard to eat made a reappearance as luck would have it just as another runner passed me, not in the least bit mortifying especially as Madam has told me I am an ugly puker, though I am still not sure how to make it pretty-answers on a postcard!
Mr and Mrs F there in front on me, after what seemed like hours (oh thats right it was) I took the opportunity for a long walk break with them back in to Tollesbury, where they rescued their car from the high tide and I set off on what was the worse section-the last 8.5 miles. In and out along the sea wall, the never-ending dam sea wall, passing the man in the green shirt, to have him pass me in five minutes, keeping my eyes on the horizon for the other runners, why are they going that way surely the finish is over there? Please god where is the end? I was unable to eat anything, sipping water was tricky, then out there on my own I had a strop, where the **** is the end? I shouted and promptly dropped in to dip! Karma was telling me to put up and shut up. I did but that still didn’t stop me getting cross at the plane hovering above.
Finally we dropped off the wall. How far I asked some people joining the path? Over the field, on to the road, there were the Relics, where am I going? I asked, managing I hope to look like I was running, Daughter of man in green shirt was standing on the side, is it far I ask? FINALLY the blue arch.
Stats for the weekend-for the runners
- 67 of us set out to do the full two day event
- 22 were female
- 3 dropped out during day 1
- 11 did not come back for day 2
- 4 dropped out during day 2
- 48 completed the whole thing
- I was 27th (as was my number!)
- Thrilled with my third female placing!
Did I enjoy it?
Nope, nope, no, no and no
Not sure why. Is it too long? Is it the back to back? Is it too many Ultra’s this year? Was it the flatness? Was it the constant nausea? I am not really sure but I shall be drawing the curtain of further Ultras. Saltmarsh was my Finale!