The Nottingham Ultra 50K marked my first ever ultra event. I travelled up the night before to Nottingham and stayed in town to save the added stress of getting to the start line on time. The event was organised by Rory Coleman and Jen Salter of ULTRArace, so it was good to see a couple of familiar faces at the start.
I was nervous at what to expect – and it showed! I completely overpacked on the gel bars and snacks, but I hate getting hungry when I run. Jen was on hand at the start to rationalise my provisions (yes, there was food and water on the way round and, no, I didn’t need my waterproof mac). Thanks, Jen, for making the start easier. I saw this race not only as a means of exorcising my London marathon demons when I hit “the wall” at around 22 miles, but also as a way to test my kit and what works for me.
After a rousing speech from Rory at the start, we were off! The first thing that happened was that the two bananas I had tucked into the bottle carrier sections of my bumbag jettisoned off somewhere on route, never to be seen again. Bye bananas!
I think that I paced myself reasonably well and fell in with a particular crowd running at around the same pace. I loved running across the footpaths stretching across open field after open field. It gave me a real thrill and a sense of wellbeing and calm. How often do you get to do this? I got lost in a few places, which added about 45 minutes to my time, and at that stage was a little reluctant to run on ahead going across country for fear of getting lost and not being found. Also added minutes to my time when got lost in the park. However, as soon as we got into more urban surroundings by the canal, I got a second wind and headed off on my own. I wasn’t sure where the finish line was, or how far I’d come by that stage (although I thought it might be close). I gave Rory a quick call to find out how far I had left. Finally, the inflatable “finish” arch was in sight and I summoned the last of my energy to put on a final spurt across the finish line to claim my medal. I immediately had to sit down and regain my composure, but I’d done it!! My first ultra under my belt and a time of 6 hours 46 minutes and 42 seconds. I came 35th out of a field of 55, and was the 5th female to finish out of 13. I was a little disappointed with my time upon finishing, but I think that with hindsight, it wasn’t bad for a first attempt as I’d had no idea how to pace myself for my first event or what to expect. Anyway, it’s set the benchmark for other ultras. Travelled back to Birmingham and, unsurprisingly, slept well that evening.