29th March 2022
A Runner's Report
This is a brief report of my experiences whilst competing in my first ever Endurance Race and the things I have learnt should I ever have a “senior moment” and enter again in the future!
So, first things to mention are roughly under the “things I have learnt” banner. Here is my list.
1, Read the instructions and listen to the race director carefully. When it says you must complete a minimum of one lap every two hours, I learnt to my cost that’s exactly what it means. I set off and rattled off (well, ran at a very steady pace) two laps in the first two-hour period. I then realised I would have to more or less go back out again for my third lap straight away. Big mistake. That then messed up my rest time and had to replan the final two-hour period to do one lap and contrive to finish around 5.30pm so I could honestly claim my medal and t-shirt.
2, Read the instructions about car parking and having clothes, food and drinks with you at Race HQ. The car park is about a 2km walk from Race HQ. I added at least 6km to my tiring legs by going back for my food and drink that I had thoughtfully put into my van the night before. I should have heeded the warning signs when I saw people loaded up with chairs cool boxes. But no, I thought it can’t be that far to Race HQ and back. Little did I know!
3, Plan your rest breaks properly so that you have nutrition at the right time. Of course, I messed that up too. Because I ran three laps with a short break and not having fully understood the rules, I ate at the wrong time. Result? Felt bloody awful, nauseous, lightheaded and tired. Then the mental battles began. Of course, I can do my last lap I said. Of course, you can’t you fool my body said! However, I ignored that and went back out again to complete my bonus lap to increase my distance to 16 miles in total. For the purposes of accuracy, I’m not counting the walks back to my van. If I did, I would shock myself as to how many miles I actually covered.
4, Take note of the weather forecast. It said it was going to be hot. It was. I was well prepared for that, sun cream, hat, hydration all taken care of. What I didn’t read was the bit about the temperature dropping at around 5pm. Result – felt very cold even when running. Again, the warning signs were there. People suddenly appeared with hoodies or a long-sleeved shirt. Did I comprehend this? I think by now, you know the answer.
5, Don’t do it on your own. Have someone with you either running the laps with you or back at Race HQ supporting you with food, clothes, hugs etc. Even better, have both!
Having had a couple of days now to reflect on my experiences, notwithstanding the lessons learnt above, I am pleased I did it. I am especially pleased to have completed 4 laps (equalling 16miles) as my original aim was to complete three laps. I entered to help my half marathon training programme. I was originally going to use the race as a test of pace. Given the heat on the day, I wisely chose to focus on distance instead. I have also a new personal achievement, having gone further than I have ever run before.
The Bridge is an unforgiving beast. Just in case you didn’t read that, the Bridge does not forgive! It’s either uphill or downhill no matter which direction you cross it. It’s a hard surface too which adds to the tiredness in your legs. The view doesn’t change except if you see any craft on the river. The traffic on the bridge is a source of encouragement. Loads of waves, shouts and horn blowing to keep us all going. Some people’s car music choices leave a lot to be desired though, just one of many observations as I trundled my way across the bridge some 8 times! I won’t bore you with any others, they are far too mundane and the result of tiredness and escapism!
But the best part (as always) is the camaraderie of your fellow runners. Some you know, some you don’t. No matter, there were loads of supportive thumbs up, well done mate, keep going, you’ve got this, to last a lifetime.
Overall, it was well worth the effort and in a strange way, very enjoyable. The race organisers and volunteers did a fantastic job. The T-shirt is a proper running shirt, and the medal is of good quality.
Would I do it again? Of course I would!! You know what this running bug does to us and I’m hooked.
Any volunteers to run with me next year?
aka “That Old Dude At The Back”