CTS Dorset 2015 – 75km Trail Run
Having only completed one ultra distance race before (OCC 2014) I was eager to test the body out over a longer distance and try to gain a few valuable UTMB points in the process. The Endurance Life coastal trail series consists of ten coastal runs with distances to suit all. The Dorset race is considered “Extreme” on their ranking and the 73km UltraPlus option caught my eye. So with the adventure race season over I decided it was the ideal race to round off the year and get the remaining qualification points I needed before the end of 2015.
Having flown into Bristol just before storm Desmond hit hard, we then made the two hour drive to the picturesque village of Lulworth for registration. With all running smoothly, I felt unusually stress free as normally I am analysing every little aspect of an adventure race…transitions, bike shoes or not, trail runners or road runners, that sort of thing! Once in the hotel, I set about getting my gear laid out for the morning as we would be having breakfast at 6am and travelling to the race for 7.30 briefing.
The forecast was for strong winds with a chance of rain, with the course travelling over mostly firm ground, albeit quite hilly. So I prepared for the worst conditions and told myself that its the same conditions for everyone!
With any long endurance race, it is important to break the race into manageable sections and to work out a race and nutritional plan. I had broken the race into each check point/feed station and decided that I would keep things cool until the feed station at 44km where I would have access to my kit bag and have roughly 30km left to do. I made up a little course card with the distances broken down and highlighted where I could get refills and food through out the race, if anything this was useful for my mind as much as my body as I knew I was in for a long day.
With the race briefing dragging a bit I decided to head to our car near by for a few final adjustments and to make sure I had everything in place. With the 44km checkpoint located at the start/finish area, I was able to leave my kit bag in the car and access it there. I laid out the food I would need for the remainder of the race and my carbon hiking poles which would come in handy for the tired legs over the last 30km.
The race goes uphill straight from the start and we soon broke into a power stride, no point going into the red 500 meters into an ultra marathon! Once over the crest we were met with an 80kph wind straight into our face, even running down the other side was a struggle as the wind blew our feet and narrowed our eyes. Approaching the second climb of the day, I glanced up to count how many runners were ahead, roughly 15, so I maintained my pace (more heart race as pace was irrelevant with such a course and weather) and stuck with the group of three that I found myself in. I noticed that the lead lady was running just behind and I recognised her, turns out it was Holly Rush who I had seen on the Eurosport program “Outrun the Sun” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADOuPXRHg2c .
I ran through the first check point at 12km grabbing half a banana and handful of jelly babies and pushed on to the next checkpoint at 19.5km. I tried to take as much of this 19.5km lap in as I knew I would be running the same terrain again later in the race. Once back in Lulworth, the course takes you over a rocky beach and up a series of steep climbs, each about 200-400m in length, it was very slow progress and quiet energy sapping particularly when your GPS doesn’t progress as far as you thought it would! With the deafening wind swirling all the time it made the challenging course more difficult and testing the steel of the most hardened trail runner.
With the course now looping back towards to the start/finish area, I spotted my brother who was running the half-marathon option and stopped briefly to have the craic about how shitty the conditions were! Approaching the 44km check point I started to feel good and knew that I was going to maintain a good pace for the remainder of the race. At the DIB point I asked a marshal had many runners gone through, 5 or 6 was the response, so I figured a podium was on! I quickly refilled my bottles and food, grabbed two cups of coke, clicked out my poles and set off in pursuit. With 30km to go a lot could still go wrong, but as long as I held off cramp and a dodgy stomach, then I knew I would be in with a shout. I quickly caught two runners and stayed in their draft for a couple km before pushing on on the next steep climb. I soon found myself running alone for the first time in over 6 hours, with no one in sight. At the next checkpoint at 54km I was in 2nd place with the leader well ahead. I kept focused and maintained a sensible pace for the remainder of the race, while trying to hold of pain and tiredness which was hitting in, particularly on the steep descents.
With darkness falling and after 8hours of constant moving, I finally crossed the finish line, some 30 minutes behind the winner who blitzed the course! Delighted to have finished, delighted to have got my qualification points and surprised to have got 2nd place in my 2nd ultra distance race! Fingers crossed that I am lucky in the UTMB draw and get to return to the mecca of trail running in Chamonix!
Check out the race video here: