Race Report – The Wall 69 Mile Ultra Marathon
The night before the Ultra we went to register & collect numbers. After a mandatory kit check they wished us luck & sent us on our way! Race strategy was talked about over the evening meal whilst tucking into Spaghetti Bolognese & a cheeky glass of vino! I could feel the butterflies growing inside but why I don’t know.
The amount of training both craig & I had done prior to this running 11 marathons in different conditions. Smashing PBs in shorter distances and the 2 ultra training runs of 33 miles & 40. Still the unknown of surpassing 40 miles was eating away at me.
That night I slept pretty poorly for me. I kept waking every hour thinking I’d overslept and missed the start. Nerves always get take over but once the gun goes my race game is on. Walking to the start we were all nervously giggling apprehension of what we were due to undertake sinking in. The start was full of all types of runners all welcoming each other not eyeing up the competition. Something far different from a normal road race. The gun sounded and a mass start was underway. A lot steadier than anything we have done before. Some runners chose to walk the start & some were plodding a long in single file like us. We walked the hills and plodded at a comfortable 9.5-10 min mile pace. Pit stop 1 Lanercost was at 15 miles . We arrived 45 mins quicker than expected but felt good at this point. The sun was getting hotter and we consciously ensured the water was topped up. I ate a Bakewell tart after struggling to eat anything. I’d managed a gel at 8 miles but knew I had to try and eat through the race. Miles 15-27 were tough the climbs began so more walking was undertaken. Temperatures soared at the point as we made the way past midday. Feet began to get sore so we decided to change the trainers at Cawfields Quarry Pit Stop 2 27 miles in. Due to walking the hills my feet rubbed at the heel something I’ve never had which ironically didn’t hurt when I ran but did when I walked. I managed to eat some sausages before we moved on. This later turned out to be my downfall as they repeated on me for the next 20 miles.
By mile 36 I was not good. The temperature had soared to 28 degrees with no opportunity for shade. I had to lay down as I was so hot my chest was tight and I struggled to run. My diaphragm burned and the pain was making me feel sick. This was when craig and emma force fed me haribo tangfastics & made me read messages on my phone. My head instantly picked up and I continued at a steadier pace til we got to Pit Stop 3 Hexham. People were amazing along the route from one man leaving a running hose pipe with a sign saying please help yourself, to the elderly couple who begged us to stop and have a glass of water as we ran through their back garden.
Here I had a sleep for 30 mins to try and recover my body going into shock shaking. I managed to eat some ready salty crisps drink coffee and Coke! An hour later I felt more human and was more upbeat. We managed to run the first 4 miles comfortably then my energy just zapped. I’d been running and walking for over 12 hours and had barely consumed anything let alone enough calories I’d already burnt. We then had to continue run walking. I attempted to take a gel at mile 56 which was my undoing.
I threw it straight back up until I had nothing left. In a way it was a relief as I’d felt sick from about mile 50, but it just led to me throwing up for the remaining 13 miles. By mile 58 we were running continuously through a wooded area that went on for miles. I was delirious and with the head torches on I began to feel dizzy and disoriented. I was being sick every couple of miles which the retching was cramping my stomach muscles. But I kept thinking how I have to finish I cannot get a DNF!!!
We got to the last Pit Stop Newburn 62 miles at 2am and I had another lay down to try and preserve energy. I drank coffee and tried to eat more haribo.
I was asked if I thought I could continue and I said I’m not giving up it’s just a 10k to go. We were then informed 500 people of the 1000 that had started had already dropped out. So I walked the flats & ran down the hills for the last 6.5 miles it was hard I was still being sick but I wouldn’t give up. When we got near the millennium bridge adrenaline kicked in and we ran the last 0.5 miles to the finish.
I’d done it I was an ultra marathon runner and I finished 4 hours before the cut off and in front of 565 other people.
Would I do it again? Hell yeah just one request though….less heat please!!