In case you weren't impressed enough by Mark Berry's first Ultra Experience - here's his second. Mark is very quickly attaining the status of club legend!
Ultra Trail South West (UTSW) 2013 60 miles 22nd June 2013
One of my Nan's many sayings was; "bad memory, tired legs" never was this more true than the run on Saturday 22nd June. I had a place booked on the North Devon AONB marathon but forgot that it is my wife's birthday celebration that weekend so I had to forgo my place there and look for a different run. The only one I could find that fitted with my commitments was the Endurance Life UTSW 60 mile run from Boscastle to Watergate Bay along the south west coast path.
They bill this run as the 'toughest foot race in the UK' so it seemed a good idea at the time to test this out! They also do a 100 mile run at the same time so it was very strange going to sleep when the 100 milers started their race.
We (60 milers)set off at 8pm and the weather was not too bad apart from some heavy showers the first 20 miles were relentless hills and I was feeling shattered and disappointed with my pace at the time, however no one had come past me and when I got to the half way mark at Rock I had some great encouragement from someone who was also doing the 60 mile run, we stayed together for a while after that but at the next checkpoint I was ahead of him and I met his friends who then cheered me on at all of the subsequent checkpoints. The section from Rock to Wadebridge and back to Padstowe was a mixture of running through the bog in the grizzly followed by 7 miles of hard cycleway like the Tarka Trail.
The weather then rapidly deteriorated past Padstowe, the wind got up to gale force with heavy showers and it was quite frightening at times on the cliff edges in the gales. At the final checkpoint I was told that I was in 4th place and shortly after I met up with another Mark who was doing the 100 mile run. Mark and I then stayed together for the final 10 miles which was perfect as we both were flagging at different times but kept each other going, we overtook 3 other runners in the final section but they were all 100 mile runners. I finished in 4th place overall and 1st in my category in 12.14 and Mark came third in his 100 mile run.
In summary I think I would agree with their billing of this event as one of the toughest foot races as there were lots of very experienced ultra runners taking part, a lot of which pulled out along the way or at the end were saying how tough it was compared to other runs they had done around the world. It was also by far the most sociable run I have done to date where you would speak to people along the way and give each other encouragement - which was just what you needed.
Having said all this I did feel a lightweight at the event as when people asked me what race I had done? I would reply "oh just the 60 mile". I can't believe I was saying that so maybe next time I will have to put myself in the heavyweight division??
Well done to Mark for another brilliant effort - truely humbling to see what he has put himself through!