1) Complacency - You are only as good as your recent training. Road Bike mileage is no substitute for time out on your feet. Unfortunately, the heatwave conditions of the preceeding few weeks led me to getting out and riding some epic rides ... which was great fun but didn't do much for my running legs. Hence, the cramps and early stiffening. No excuses here, just pure fact.
Having said that, skills and experience got me to the end in reasonable shape and time.
2) Speed Kills - I've said it countless times, but this time I (intentionally) pushed the speed just a little too fast and it proved that this is very true. Correct pacing is paramount in any race, whatever the length.
It was a good experience 'running' with Sharon for 70 miles, and knowing I was pushing my pace out a wee bit, but don't try and keep up with her ... she's one tough cookie! But, I'll be fit to keep up with her for Dark Mountains.
3) Ultra Running is 50% mental, 25% physical and 25% all you can eat.... 'nuff said. I could probably have done with a couple more bits of pizza or one of Sharon's excellent Massive Tuna Mayo Baps in the first half. Once we'd picked up our half way drop bags, with the forementioned goodies, I was much happier.
4) Hillskills are essential for successful completion, especially in poor weather. Recce-ing of the course is very useful but to dis-regard 'Hillskills' - navigation, hillcraft, nutrition, gear selection, use and application is a core skill.
4) My gear worked marvellously (with the exception of the stinky drinks bottle!) Many have asked for my gear list so here goes:
Shoes - La Sportiva Raptor. A vastly under-rated shoe
Much of my running is done in Inov-8 315's but for an event of such length and with such hard trails a big heavy runner like me needs so more support/protection and cushioning. Hence, the Raptor has served me well for the past few years.
|Inov-8 15, (20 has side pockets), Raptors and Platypus.|
Socks - Smartwool 'Outdoor' - Thick woolly ones.
Sac - Inov-8 Race 20 - Light and simple, no gimmicks. Hipbelt pockets, side zip pocket for medium sized bottle, or folded up 1litre platypus. Plenty big enough for such an event.
Waterproof - Montane Atomic - Midweight and properly waterproof / durable jacket. Proper peaked hood and 'features', including two massive pockets for goodies, map, torch. pizza, water bottle.
Overtrousers - Montane Minimus - Light and a good fit. Not often worn, but when they are needed they are good enough. Fearful that they will wear quickly being so light.
Headtorch - Petzl Myo RXP - must be market leader. Does all you need, batteries will last all night on low/medium. Or use 'High' when needed, and carry AND USE spare Lithiums to maintain maximum output. I'm actually currently using / testing a Petzl Nao, and will report on this very clever torch soon.
Shirt - White Endura 'Humvee' Cycle shirt due to the heat. Rear pockets useful too! White colour very beneficial.
Base Layer - Helly Hansen Lifa, long sleeved and well proven.
Base Legs - Helly Hansen Lifa ..... ditto. Just don't tell the fashion police ... Do I care?
Warm Layer - Haglofs microfleece gilet - very warm for it's weight due to a good fit. Would be needed if I was incapacitated.
Gloves - in good weather, Berghaus Power-Stretchlite.
Hat - Buff for cold, Peak Inov-8 cap for sun and rain protection.
On the matter of clothing I finished at 2.00am in heavy ran wearing shorts and cycle shirt, and the Montane Atomic jacket. There had been no need to put on extra layers until I finished.
Drinks Bottle - Platypus 1 litre collapsible bottle with a sports cap
I've used these (1 litre, 1/2 litre and even 2 litre) for most of my running, mountaineering adventures. The fact that they fold down and can be squashed into any shape means you don't get any slushing about. And, 'Yes', you can get a Nuun tablet or similar in my breaking it in half. Powders are a bit more tricky, but a small funnel helps in stage races. Pre-loading a number of these with powder can work very well, too.
Compass - Silva - Field 7
Emergency / First Aid / Misc
First aid is very personal, and I won't go into detail. My emergency kit includes a Petzl e+Lite emergency mini-strobe lamp, a Adventure Medical Foil Survival Bag, a 'Simple Phone' - Nokia 100 PAYG - so much lighter than a smart phone and with amazing battery life for when you need it in an emergency. .
Ok that's enough gear geeking. I could write much more on how to use this stuff but that could from another blog post. Furthemore, just having the gear is no substitute for good 'hillskills', so please do think carefully about what you carry and why, along with the skills you have. Please consider investing a bit of time, money and headspace on upgrading your skills for safe, effective and an improved performance on the trails and in the mountains. Take a look at NAV4 Adventure or our facebook page for more info.
And finally, Have fun, be safe ... and enjoy our wonderful mountains.
|Rewards / Recovery !|