As you may know, I’m undertaking my first event of beyond marathon distance this weekend, the short version of the Calderdale Way Ultra. I’ve been feeling slightly apprehensive about it – not so much the distance as the navigational aspect and the possibility of getting lost! Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be a big learning curve. So to inspire me (and maybe others) here’s a guest blog from my friend and super-runner Kirsty Harvey – a review of the recent Dukeries Ultra in Nottinghamshire. Enjoy!
Under new management this year Dukeries offers a choice of three distances: 10, 30 or 40 miles and I chose to do the 40 – partly for the challenge but also because I’m doing a multi-day in July where the long day is 42 miles, so I felt that this would be great practice. My race started at 7.30 so I stayed in a nearby Travelodge (so I didn’t have to get up too early) and with a surprisingly sunny morning (why do I ever check the forecasts?). Everyone was in very good spirits on the start line.
The circular course meanders through Sherwood Forest, where you get a glimpse of the famous Major Oak tree, visits the beautiful Cresswell Crags and also goes through Clumber Park before working its way back to the start/finish at Walesby Sports Club. There were checkpoints at 7, 18, 24 and 34 miles with snacks, water and juice available and lovely helpful marshals. The weather remained perfect for running and I found myself enjoying the run and gradually catching up and even overtaking several runners who had set off quite a bit quicker than me which was a lovely boost. Whenever I saw someone in front it encouraged me to try a bit harder to catch them – it wasn’t always successful but you can always hope! The course was very dry but with about 13 miles to go I took a little detour round the only bit of mud on the path and promptly fell over a tree root, stubbing my toe very hard at the same time. Fortunately it didn’t stop me running although the air was a bit blue! After the last checkpoint at 34 miles I realised I was slowing down a bit and despite my best efforts it took me a bit longer than I hoped to do the final few miles, finally finishing in 7:15 – about 30 minutes faster than last year, so I was still happy with the time.
The new organiser Ronnie had promised a well marked course with no navigation issues, and he certainly delivered – I missed one turning which added about five minutes but it was entirely my fault as once I retraced my steps there was the red and white tape, clear as day! There were also marshals on some of the less obvious turns just in case. The race is changing its name next year and will come under Hobo Pace I understand, but if you fancy a very scenic tour of Nottinghamshire then choose your distance and give it a go next year.