GB Ultra's Manchester to Liverpool 50 mile Ultra
So I was back again for the second year in row taking on my third Ultra inside 12 months.
Having previously done the race the year before I was excited for what was to come.
In 2022 I made the rash decision to jump into Ultra running just ten days after my first Marathon. Completing the race in 8h 23 and coming 36th place out of 376 runners.
Since then I have completed another Ultra in Glasgow in the October.
Having no coach or real training plan, I focused on volume, consistently hitting 50 plus miles a week.
I had worked hard over the winter putting in the miles but didn't have a real plan in place.
Since the turn of the year M2L was my first target race, I had decided around six weeks out that I was going to try and aim for sub 8 hours, although secretly hoping I had more.
In the lead up to it I was anxious and excited, eager to get going, I find tapering mentally challenging and I am always second guessing myself.
I felt good the week of the race and I was mentally focused and prepared for the task at hand.
After registration and collecting my race number on the Thursday I was absolutely buzzing, I couldn't sleep, I had a whirlwind of emotions whizzing through my head, a main concern for me was any stomach issues I may suffer, as during my second Ultra I had horrendous stomach problems during the race.
The morning of the race I was up around 3:30am. Now begun the hardest task of the day, eating so early. Trying to put enough carbs in without upsetting my body.
0430am I was ready to go!!
I arrived at Race HQ around 0500am with the race due to start at 0600am. I love the atmosphere pre race. I thrive on it and it actually relaxes me.
0550am I made my way to the start line, where I stood right at the front. I was calm, relaxed and eager
to get going, the cold wind blowing in my face.
0600am ish, the countdown began from 10, 9, 8, 7 etc then GO!
I was away, I started behind the lead pack and made sure I held back, I didn't want to get caught up in the moment and push too early.
Through Media City over Hotel Football and onto the Bridgwater canal, I was gently making my way towards the first checkpoint at 6 miles in.
I arrived at the checkpoint bang on time and blew straight through, I had decided earlier that I wasn't going to stop until mile 15 at Dunham Massey and carried enough fuel to do so.
After Dunham I was on the Trans Penine Trail heading towards Latchford Locks in Warrington, CP3 mile 22.
Just before mile 22 I felt a little low as the food I had prepped was hard to chew and swallow and I wasn't taking enough fuel on. But I pressed on taking some gels to compensate.
Mile 26 arrived and I was at around 3h 39 which was a little ahead of schedule.
From here I felt really low and struggled to keep moving, I lost the group I was running with and reluctantly started walking.
I was absolutely fuming with myself as I hadn't planned to do any walking until after Spike Island in Widnes (mile 32)
I battled on for the next five or so miles, walking and running, desperately trying to get going again.
I managed to run into the Checkpoint as the support was amazing.
Once into the CP I quickly handed my water bottles to the volunteers and removed my race vest and took off my under top as the weather was changing and quickly becoming warmer and warmer.
I rammed a banana into my face along with some flat cola and I immediately perked up, donned my race pack and got going again. I knew the next section was going to be warm as there is very little shade.
Myself and around five other lads were constantly passing each other, tit for tat, during the next 6 miles making the race a real battle, which in turn, spurred me on.
Once I arrived into the CP at mile 38 I felt good, again I rammed another banana in, along with some other foods and flat cola, looked around and saw the rest of the runners looking a little flat , I saw my chance and decided to head off quickly and create some distance between us.
At this point I was moving quite well and had picked up pace again, with the pack of 5/6 behind me, it kept me focused and I didn't look back.
I worked hard and pushed on until the final CP at mile 44, again when I ran onto the CP the support was
Immense and it lifted me a level.
I barely stopped, I took some fuel on and refuelled my bottles and off I went to the final push, the final 10km
At this point last year I was a real mess, I had little energy and mentally I was struggling. This year however I was physically in a good place and mentally focused, I kept an even pace and knew if I continued, I would definitely sub 8 hours as planned.
I pressed on, talking to myself, to " keep going" and " one more kilometre". It worked, before I knew It I recognised an under pass which meant I was close to the end.
I kicked, I could hear the cheering of other runners crossing the line, the famous ultra cowbells, the clapping, I felt alive.
I looked left could see the finish in the distance around the bend.
I kicked harder, I looked behind me and nowhere was there to threaten me, I felt amazing, I pushed until the end, the feeling of crossing the line after 50 miles is something I cannot explain, you simply have to do it to understand it.
Once I crossed the line, received my medal and shook some hands and exchanged some hugs with fellow athletes.
I asked the race director : " what was my time?"
He looked at me and said 7:26:56
I felt amazing, I had smashed my previous time and my goal time.
I then asked, " what position?"
He replied "13th overall, 10th place male"
I couldn't believe it, I was over the moon. Having only started running in the pandemic, here I am now placing 10th place male In a 50 mile Ultra race.
Although now my place has been moved to 12th place after a technical disqualification for another athlete.
What a journey it has been, I already can’t wait to do it again next year, along with other some other Ultra's along the way.
I recommend anyone to try an ultra race, the beauty is, you're really only racing yourself, what is the worst that can happen?
The highs and lows are immeasurable, the sense of achievement is unreal, the mental challenge and journey let's you know who you are, you prove to yourself you can do anything, if you just believe.
Next stop for me, 100 miles!!!!
See you soon!
"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"