[Mon 17th Sep]
The alarm went off at 5.30am and to be fair I really did not want to get up…. After getting my kit ready I headed out to Kielder to see what was in store.
I arrived at 7.30am, giving me 30 minutes to register and get my final kit sorted. Having trained at Kielder quite a few times November / December last year and competing in the Kielder Duathlon last December I was aware of the terrain and the course, as with most races especially distance ones footwear is key so I decided on my Hoka’s and Salomon twin bottle carrier for minimum required kit, I was ready to run.
A little worried at who I would be facing having booked this event from the North East Races website. We all lined up and to be fair from face value it looked like a good mix of abilities but as I have found out competing in Ultras, looks are very much deceiving.
After weighing up the skinny blokes it was time to head off. I started off really hard, quickly establishing myself at the front, my plan was simple - run as hard and as fast for as long as I could. After 4 miles it give me the first chance to see where everyone was as the trail doubles back on itself, to my surprise I was well in front which I wanted to keep. Over the last few months I have been training really hard on the Simonside hills which were helping massively with the ups and downs. Kielder is not the hilliest but it has a few cheeky climbs.
I hit the first checkpoint which was 6.5 miles in 42 minutes, I quickly left and headed on to the next one constantly looking behind as I could hear sounds which sounded like runners. After the checkpoint I had a gel and it was hammer down again. I kept a good pace of 8.1 mph up to the next checkpoint which was at 13 miles. I took a couple of seconds longer at the next checkpoint as I needed to fill my water bottle, quick check behind me and I was off again. No sooner had I left the next checkpoint and the blisters started to arrive (I had spent a good 20 minutes this morning taping my feet up but for some reason the Hokas give me small blisters) I continued to keep a good pace but it was slowing and by the time I reached the next checkpoint which was at 17 miles I was starting to slow and feel my hamstrings. Headphones on, a quick water refill, a check behind me and it was off again through the caravan park and on to the trail again. The sun was now out and the heat was building but fortunately I got a second wind so I pushed on to the 20 mile mark, where the wall arrived and I was starting to hit it (this normally happens at 30 miles but at a slower pace so hey ho), from running Ultras I’m used to this and at this point I would normally have a coffee and some food at a checkpoint but this was not an Ultra and I was sure I could hear people coming up behind me. Another gel was out of the question and I was sick of my High5 2.1 so it was wine gums, well one with a few flies mixed in “Protein” the last 5 miles was going to be a slog as I was not feeling great, reaching the final checkpoint was a boost and the encouragement was well needed, I thanked the guy and headed up another climb for the final stage which would be my slowest and what seemed to be my longest. After a short while I reached the yard with the boats in again I could hear noise behind me so I picked up the pace, my Garmin was now showing 22.5 miles with an average of 7.1 mph. My target at the start was to finish in 3 hrs 30 and if I kept this pace until the finish that’s what I would do and if nobody passed me I would win! That in itself was all the motivation I needed. I soon hit the sailing club car park rounded the bend I could see the finish on the other side of the dam. Garmin was still reading 7.1 and 23.5 miles. I arrived at the car park just before turning left at the head of the dam. I had a quick look behind me and could not see anyone, I kept up my pace but I seemed to be running backwards and the final mile seemed to take longer that the whole 24 miles I had just ran.
I finally crossed the finish line in 3 hrs. 30 minutes 42 second covering 25.1 miles with 1366ft of accent and in 1st position.
The event is 25.1 miles and not 26.2 like the Kielder Marathon in October. It did not have anywhere near the standard of runners in the Kielder Marathon But this was a great race much like the LDWA, it was well organised and I had just won it ha ha…
After a few photos and some food I watched the next few runners come in. I had actually finished 30 minutes ahead of the next finished.
What a great way to spend my Saturday morning.