4am on Saturday 23rd February the alarm clock goes off waking Amy and I. Why are we up this early on a Saturday we ask ourselves, blurry eyed and tired…then we remember, we are running our first ultra marathon today!
Fortunately we have been prepared and packed all our kit the night before, so the morning just calls for breakfast (two bagels and butter for me as always on race day) and a shower before jumping in the car and driving up to Bamburgh Castle for Registration. The weather has been forecast for an unseasonably mild 14 degrees, changing our outfit plans slightly. As we climb the hill from the car park to the registration tent I begin to wonder if we’ve made a mistake – the southerly wind (more on this later) is freezing! Staying positive we think once the sun comes up we will be okay.
After registration we climb aboard the race organised coaches along with 129 other nutters (and some 4 legged friends that probably thought it was just Park Run day!) and set off for the start line in the shadow of Alnwick Castle. Stood shivering in an unassuming field nervously we realised it was almost time to start the 35 (and a bit) miles we had signed up for!
We started out at a comfortable pace kept in check by the numerous styles and kissing gates in the first section. Before we knew it we had made it to Alnmouth and turned up the coast towards Bamburgh. This was the point that we really realised how favourable the weather gods had been. Running in the sun with a tailwind certainly is the runners dream!
Having paced well throughout we passed the marathon finish after 5 hours and 15 minutes and started out on the final loop. Due to our early conservatism we were still feeling ‘fresh’ and managed to pass several people who had gone out too hard and were walking the final 10 miles! Little did we know that possible the hardest part was yet to come…the climb from the beach to the castle was a super steep kicker! The original castle builders knew how to build appropriate defences!
Finally after 6 hours and 51 minutes we finished, beating our 7 hour goal and more importantly having had a fantastic day out! The only thing left to do after being presented our medals was shuffle to the pub for a well deserved drink!Verdict: 35.5 miles is a long way to run, but we would certainly both do another (or even longer) again! We got very lucky with the weather but sticking to an easy pace through made for a very enjoyable event (and not too much recovery time).
Endurance Life were fantastic throughout with a very well thought through race plan, and great execution on the day. We would highly recommend their events to anyone looking for trail runs in future!