Sunday 28 October 2012

Dusk 'til Dawn 50 mile 2012

Here's an interesting one! I'm writing this now to help me stay awake until tonight so I don't end up 'jet lagged' as I didn't sleep after finishing the race at 1.47 this morning, sleep didn't appeal.

A 50 mile circular route from Castleton in the Peak District with Checkpoints every 10 miles and intermediate vehicle marshalls between those. Also 4 token buckets (We had 4 tokens with our race number to drop into 4 buckets strategically placed around the course to prevent any short cutting)

This weekends run began at 'dusk' on Saturday. Which meant we had maybe 20 mins before we needed torches. I don't have much idea on my timings during the race as I didn't check the GPS I just ran at what felt appropriate. The goals for the race were 1. Stay on course, 2. Keep moving forwards and 3. Make the most of easy terrain the time limit was 14 hours 6min until dawn.

The race was organised by Richard and Wendy from Beyond Marathon and their team of excellent marshals and crew who looked after us throughout the night! Massive thank you to them from me and the rest of the competitors! We began with the most detailed and precise pre race briefing I have ever witnessed! At the end of it I felt like I had already run around the course and knew the location of every bit of mud and loose rock in the Peak District! Thanks Rich! Hope this happens again and get your entries in guys well worth it!

The start was a few minutes walk from Loosehill Hall YHA in Castleton and began with a moderate ascent  at 17.42 then a small loop back down to Hope and back to Castleton and onto Cave Dale. I started at a steady pace and quickly found myself at the front. It took me a couple of miles to adjust to the scale of the map and I took a few wrong turns which were quickly rectified allowing 2nd position to catch me briefly before we got the torches on and headed back into Castleton. It was a great sight to see all the head torches descending down from Loosehill as the darkness fell.

The gap behind me began to open once again as we had a couple of miles following Cave dale along the Limestone way which was difficult to get wrong. I got a glimpse back as I went over a style and could see 2nd position in the distance and nothing beyond him. I felt like I had started pretty comfortably but resisted the urge to check the watch. Approaching about 10 miles I hit the first checkpoint and there was no sign of 2nd behind me which I was surprised about. I had expected to be in a group for at least the first few miles. The recent speed orientated training must be working!

From here to Earl Sterndale and CP 2 passed rather quick with some good ground on the whole, a few fields to cross between the tracks and minor roads. I think it was a short sharp climb at Priestcliffe which had a sign part way up saying 'Nearly there' and then as I jogged past around the corner another saying 'Just kidding' the Grim Sweeper clearly has a sense of humour! As I reached the CP I caught them off guard as the building was still locked I popped in to get my time card stamped and moved straight out and carried on. You  can spend a lot of time at CP's if you mess around, I prefer to get in and get out! At this point I was apparently around 10 min ahead.

The next section of the course felt the longest to me for some reason. I was still moving well and was really enjoying the silence running alone through the night with no wind and a clear sky. There was bits of ice forming on the high points of the course. After a couple of field crossings and some long tracks I made it to a road section and heard a car coming in the distance. This would be Richard the race organiser who just missed a gymnastic display as I was looking at the map tripped over something and ninja rolled into a pile of grass that had been through a sheep and digested into a beautiful smelling end product. 'Your going to fast' 'I'm having to open the checkpoints early to keep up with you' Richard shouted. He was on his way up the course to lay out some extra glow sticks and reflective tape that guided us around the route! It was actually very well marked which was a bonus! There was a highish section running close to the road passing Cat and Fiddle pub and I could see the light from there in the distance as I edged closer to...CP3!

I arrived, topped up my water and got back to it after a quick photo. Still no sign of any lights behind me which I thought was strange with some long open sections there were some good runners on the start line and I was surprised I hadn't been caught up.

I was feeling fine and kept the pace on up to Shining Tor (?) where there was a bucket for our tokens, to prove we went here. The stretch from here along the paved track would probably have great views during the day time as the course headed for Taxal where the Grim Sweeper aka James and Wendy were waiting in the lay by. From here the route was similar to the High Peak 40 so I recognised parts of the course and moved quite well along the course. I got a text a few miles later saying 2nd place had reached the cp 29 mins behind me which told me I was pulling away despite maintaining a similar effort.

Some decent climbs popped up in the last section as I made my way to Chinley to the final CP where I had a quick chat to some more awesome crew and a drink before making my way up along and down the valley. I knew I was closing in on the final section which I knew well and could motor along to the end. The cloud began to close in and the temperature dropped as I climbed towards the final vehicle marshal I was pretty confident if I just went steady and didn't do anything silly I knew the course and had plenty in the tank. Visibility became pretty limited as I headed for Mam Tor. My hands were going numb with the cold, at this point I still had shorts and t shirt on but I knew I would be sheltered and descending into the finish within a couple of km and so just powered on. I wouldn't like to spend much time up there on a night like that! I knew it was incredibly unlikely anyone had gained any time on me during the last section as I didn't hang around and kept a steady run without doing anything too risky like flying down a hill.

I spotted the last bucket for tokens and popped it in and made my way down from Hollins Cross, comfortable with the route from there I plodded down to the road section and then let the legs go with a pretty speedy final couple of km to Castleton and around to the YHA. As I hit the long driveway I gave Richard a quick call to make sure I didn't catch them by surprise and ran up to the finish. I rolled in 8 hours 57 according to the Garmin with 50.1 miles,  second place ending around 1 hour behind that.

During the race I actually had very little food a handful of jb's, a slice of banana and a handful of crisps, I started with 2 600ml bottles 1 with ORBANA (I am trailing their new electrolyte energy drink and will be reviewing soon) and one with water, I drank both of those by 30 miles and filled one up here and also again at 40miles and added another sachet of Orbana. Post race I had about 5 cups of tea and 3 or 4 pints of water which did the trick. I had a scoop of soy protein along with a few snacks while breakfast was being prepared. Recently I have been using a few other things from Natures Sunshine which I feel have helped keep the training intensity up with minimal soreness such as omega 3 fish oil tabs and SynerProTein. If you have any questions about these or want some yourself pop me an email or you can order them through the link.

1.47am finished 50 miles! RESULTS

Some thoughts... more reminders for me but they may help you plan to do a similar race.
The start time was a little different to normal and I didn't eat all that much during the day of the race after lunch but grazed through a few 9 bars during the afternoon. If I was planning to charge round as fast as physically possible I would have needed a bit more food on the go.
The Duracell batteries I used although they were new at the start didn't perform too well and were fading rapidly in the final 5 miles. I have used this same brand before and been fine maybe I had a bad batch?
Shoe wise I ran in Saucony xodus 2 which were about right, on the whole the ground was pretty good, a few slippery descents here and there but nothing all that bad, a large amount of track/road so wouldn't have liked to wear any of the real gnarly fell shoes!
Hills felt pretty comfortable and the speed felt fine suggesting training is going well despite a reduction in the long runs over the past month.
For some reason the data cleared off my watch between finishing the race and getting home so I can't see what my pace was like over parts of the course which is a shame. Will look into this.
Running entirely on feel and without constantly checking pace, on this occasion worked very well and time passed quickly.


  1. Great write up Charlie. Staggering time. You'll be able to see your splits on the full results later today. Hope that helps with your missing GPs data.

    Richard @ Beyond Marathon

  2. Well done on the race - that's a crazy fast time!

    I just wrote a news-roundup post with a couple of articles you might be interested in - one about UCAN superstarch, a new product that some ultramarathoners in the US have been using, and a really interesting article about an insanely strong guy who also runs ultras -

    1. Liking the website Fi! I'll have a look. Haven't been able to access the barbarian forum recently is it a problem there or is it just me?