Country to Capital 45 Ultra 2016

On the 16th of January Ely Runner David Gillespie took part in the Country to Capital (C2C) Ultra, 45 miles of country trails and towpaths starting in Wendover and finishing in the heart of London.

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Go Beyond Ultra Country to Capital

On the 16th of January Ely Runner David Gillespie took part in the Country to Capital (C2C) Ultra, 45 miles of country trails and towpaths starting in Wendover and finishing in the heart of London.

The C2C is like two races in one, with the first 20 or so miles being cross country, with plenty of ups, downs, mud, stiles, gates and navigation. And the second “race” being a flat 20 miler along the Grand Union Canal requiring no navigational skills.

For anyone thinking about taking their first step into ultra running this race is ideal. Whilst some navigation is required in the first part of the race, none of it is too complicated. The aid stations are great, marshalls are knowledgeable and encouraging and the general atmosphere amongst the runners is great. Plus, the fact that it is not quite 50 miles makes it a little less daunting.

And so, with the bigger picture in mind (and taking into account training for a spring marathon), David went out with a view to take it easy. Having set no time target had the added benefit of feeling no pressure about how long to spend at any particular aid station. This was about the adventure and the opportunity to eat pork pies as fuel. Winner! In the back of his mind he knew he could run it quicker – but that wouldn’t have been as enjoyable.

The race started at 0845 with 300 or so runners haring down Wendover high street to a right turn through a gate that leads out into the countryside. Apparently it was quite a spectacle at the sharp end as all the top guys and girls raced each other to the gate. David didn’t see any of that due to starting towards the back and plodding down the high street to patiently waited his turn to squeeze through the gate. “GATE” being the word that was held firmly at the forefront of his mind for the first few miles due to the endless stream of gates and stiles. Unsurprisingly, these caused a bit of congestion. David was happy with this though as it kept the first few miles slow and steady and allowed more time to appreciate the surroundings.

The field had started to string out by around the 7 or 8 mile mark and the navigation skills were called into play, i.e. checking in on the GPS position plotted against the route, previously set-up on the mapmyrun app (much preferred over conventional map reading). Even so, David managed to take one wrong turn along the way after blindly following a group of runners and added maybe 3 or 4 minutes overall. This wasn’t a big deal, and served as a good reminder to check the route more regularly and generally stay more alert! David reached CP2, at about mile 17, feeling fine and took some time there to take on some cake and a swig of Mountain Dew from his bag before plodding off again.

More miles steadily and comfortably went by and David soon found himself on the Grand Union Canal at around mile 23. This was the start of race number 2. There was no need to worry about navigation from here (apart from one left turn at mile 30), so the mobile phone/GPS was returned to a pocket. CP3 came up at around the marathon distance and it was at this point when David first started feeling a bit tired. He responded to this feeling with a porkpie, some jelly babies and a bit of cake, then thanked the marshals and continued on his way.

The next aid station was around 7.5 miles further and was the point where David switched to his run/walk strategy (to ensure he had the energy to finish well). The strategy was to walk the first 2 minutes of every mile and then run at a comfortably at 10m/m pace for the remainder of the mile. The strategy worked very well, giving the opportunity to drink properly and get some fuel in during those first two minutes. The miles seemed to go by so fast using this routine.

At CP4 one of the marshalls was a bit concerned David was overheating due to the amount of sweat (but this is very normal for David. To sweat. A LOT!) whilst he was actually feeling a bit cold and was considering replacing his base layer for a dry one. The marshals throughout were amazing!

Continuing the run/walk strategy to CP5, the last before the finish, worked great. The segment flew by and David felt fantastic! At CP5 he only allowed the time to grab a few jelly babies (now just wanting to get to the finish). The light was starting to fade and the temperature to drop.

With only 4 miles to go, David started to feel a bit weird – very light headed like he was going to pass out… So he switched to walking to try and get over this bad spell and popped a glucose tablet. David continued to power walk whilst waiting to feel good enough to break into a shuffle.

With 2.5 miles to go David had started running again (ok, it may not have been actual “running”) but had seized up quite a lot with the extended walking break. 1.5 miles later and his legs has loosened off enough to feel good. The strong finish was back on the cards. Mission accomplished.

David finished in 8:34 and was really pleased with that… but is now hatching plans to return and go under 8 hours.

Official Results:

1st – James Elson 4:59:19,
8th – Samantha Amend 5:36:42 (first female),
210th – David Gillepsie 8:34:06

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