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Country to Capital Ultra - the rematch

This was my first ultra a couple of years ago and now becomes the first ultra I've run twice. As I want to run everything and time is limited I don't think there will be many in that category.

I re-read my post from 2013 just to see how naive I sounded and the answer was very.  Particularly about the food.  I questioned the supply of party snacks at the time but I've since got with the programme and realised a sausage roll, clump of crisps or a micro pasty is exactly what you want!

I felt like I knew half the field what with almost everyone on Twitter running as well as a bunch of fresh ultra converts from my home club - Datchet Dashers.  I still managed to miss seeing half of them, but caught up with Susie almost immediately in the car park.  She's going back to MdS this year and the C2C was a training run with a weighted pack.

The field has doubled in size in the 2 years but the pub hosting the registration wasn't as crowded somehow.  I'd expected sardines.  

I thought I'd go out a little quicker for this one, take sufficient food and water to cover most of the distance without needing an extended CP stop and see if I could come home faster than before.  I'd also loaded the route onto my watch.  It looked so straightforward on Google Earth that I wondered how anyone could possibly get lost but of course it's ridiculously easy and loads did!

A few light flakes of snow started falling just before the start but the forecast was for sun and I distinctly remember confidently announcing that 'that was it for the day' when it petered out a few minutes later.  That proved highly inaccurate.

The start was a bit random, probably because I was being introduced to @lazygirlrunning and (at last) Cat Simpson and taking no notice, but a gun may or may not have gone off and everyone streamed out into the road and down the hill.  As usual it's a sprint.  There's a small gate at the bottom which really isn't that bad a bottleneck (and there's 42 miles to catch up in) but everyone seems intent on getting through it first.  

As the route climbed up over the Chilterns I got into an easy pace and let the miles go by.  The field, as last time, spread out very quickly and I was soon all but alone. I was so pleased I'd downloaded the route.  I'd still be out there using the map, especially as the snow was by now having a proper go at burying everything and any features blurred into the white and the grey cloud. 

From a couple of miles before CP1 I didn't see another runner until maybe 14 miles into the race.  Even then it was would-be leaders making up an unwanted detour.  I quite enjoyed running solo if I'm honest. Certainly when I face-planted in a wood without an audience.

I kept up with Paul Radford and Jess (who was unfortunately to drop later) until a shortly before CP3 (about 23 miles) but started to struggle pretty badly by then.

I've not really worked out what went wrong.  My legs felt as fine as can be expected but I couldn't sustain a pace for long before discomfort built up under the ribcage with mild nausea.  I was also drinking a great deal which surprised me as it was only a handful of degrees above freezing.  I've had about 3 colds since Christmas and the last of them has only just gone so it could well be something to do with that.

The last 16 miles beyond CP3 to the finish along the Grand Union became a real slog and I hemorrhaged places - not that I cared about that!  The last 7 miles seem to have taken an incredible 90 minutes which is what I call an absolute shocker.  At least the sun had come out.  My watch with its fabled 12hr+ battery life packed up after just 5 so I'd no idea precisely how horrible my time was becoming.

I'd have liked to have got in under 6 hours and that possibility disappeared right there.  I was passed by Shaun who was going very solidly and put in a great time to finish 18th.

It was almost as much of a relief seeing the finish line as it was in 2013 and I shoved away tea and cake gratefully and mechanically.

It's a great race with fantastic volunteers and I like the fact that you're heading out on a journey into London.  That said, there was a lot more road than I remember and I wish I'd gone with road shoes on the day rather than trail.  They were very hard on the legs.  The canalside from Bulls Bridge to the finish wouldn't win many prizes either and it renewed my respect or the GUCR runners who have 145 miles of this stuff to deal with.

Onwards and upwards and all that.

Goal race plans are up in the air at the moment thanks to the fiasco that entering Transvulcania has become.  In the meantime there's some interesting running weekends coming up.  One in the Lakes (finally!), the Belvoir challenge marathon and then two races out in Sydney and Melbourne that look like they'll be pretty special. So whatever it turns out to be, I aim to be fit!

Result: 6:24 for 27th, 10th AG
Race web site

Finally, respect to GoBeyond in this age of jacking up race fees to the maximum - I had to pull out last year through injury and they let me defer my entry to today free of charge which I am very grateful to them for.  I don't know of a single other race that lets you do that.
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