Thursday, 8 January 2009

Stansted Stagger 26 miles (Dec 08) – Race Report

The last LDWA event I plan to do before the MDS, and one with a local group. After missing out on the Gatliff run, this was the first real test since the start of November, and following on from weeks of low level training and then the interruption of Christmas I didn’t know how it would turn out.Thankfully very well! The weather had been very cold and frosty, which was a good thing at the start of the race, as the ground was hard enough to stop the mud sticking to my trainers. The route was again laid out as a description on paper, and walkers had already left an hour before I started, along with 20 runners. Once into my stride and after an unplanned detour (lost in first mile) I found the going very easy. Out of the village of Stansted Mountfitchet, and into the fields and nearby lanes. This run had only one checkpoint so I decided to take my 10 litre back-pack and carry a few extra goodies, than I normally would on a marathon, spare jacket and socks, spare hat, gel, mint cake and a cliff bar, was well as a full camelbak bladder.
Once out in the countryside I found myself alone quite quickly, having left a lot of other runners behind, and despite not taking a MP3 player, so I could concentrate on the directions, was enjoying the run. As I went I passed other runners who had started before me, and reached the 13 mile checkpoint in 1hr 51 min, and was the first to arrive. Stopping for a drink and snacks provided at the checkpoint, I changed hat and long sleeve top and headed off, just as the next runner arrived.

The route now became a bit obscure in its description and at a number of turns I took a gamble, which thankfully were the right decision, and with the ground now giving in the winter sunshine the mud stared piling up on my feet, slowing me down and adding to the effort. I was eventually passed by another runner, but managed to trail him all the way to the finish, and although we were passed by another runner in the last mile I was happy to finish in 3rd place in a time of 4hr 9min. A lot of the second half of the run was very much a run/walk stage mainly due to my lost fitness, but I finished with no injuries or pain, and the time was very pleasing as the winner (in 3hrs 42), was the reigning UK Montrail Ultra champion, so no shame there.

Next up is the Thames Towpath, which despite being longer at 50 miles won’t have the off-road hindrance that the Stagger had. Not that that will make it any easier.

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