Blickling Half Marathon
Together with 3 other Black Dogs – Bobbie Sauerzapf, Chris Chorley and Robbie James – (and a total field of 592) I ran the Blickling Half Marathon in and around Aylsham this morning. It was conducted under social distance regulations with the start being in waves of 20mins by predicted finish time and runners setting off at 20 second intervals within each wave. The organisation was superb from start to finish and even though there wasn’t support around the course the marshals clapped and cheered us on. I ended up being the second runner to start (a position I was pleased to maintain throughout the race) and despite the sun shining when I left my car and me deciding to take my sunglasses the heaven’s opened just before the start and I was accompanied by rain for pretty much the duration of the very undulating course which was very muddy in places. It was hard to gauge the pace of runners around me given the way we started but it definitely had that race day vibe and I would happily run another social distanced race. Getting the medal at the finish was great too rather than having to wait for the postie. I ended up 9th overall and 3rd in my (new) age cat with 1:23:48 (although it’s a PB on Strava as it reckons the course was 200m too long!)
Karl Olley writes:
After completing both the Kings Forest 50k and the Peddars Way 48 mile, I was on for thePositive Steps Events Grandslam. Just the small matter of a covid shuffle about leading to a 100k distance race, which ended up being a loop just over a mile long, giving birth to the Beowulf Ultra.
With the race starting at 05:00 I needed to be up nice and early to relax(ish) before getting sorted. Getting up at 02:00 in the morning was as pleasurable as you might think, along with hardly sleeping as the pre race nerves get the better of me. Anyway, I got there with plenty of time to spare to set off with 5 runners, with a sixth joining us 10 minutes later, I wonder if that extra 10 minutes in bed helped him?
One runner was quite clearly out for the win and left the rest of us in a group of four. A good early pace was set as we looked to tick some strong laps off early doors. Breakfast of scotch eggs and cheese & onion rolls were going down a treat. My plan for this race was eat and drink plenty first half, smash caffeine second half.
The first half of the race was helped with the 50k runners joining us. It was great to meet so many new faces, definitely takes the mind away from the suffering.
With 59 laps of the course to do I think the psychology of being just under half way, in the mid twenties, lead to a fatigue bomb. I started to feel a bit fed up and not progressing as well as I would have liked, maybe tiredness was creeping in.
So the second half plan came in a little early and after some caffeine I started feeling good again, knocked out a few more laps as I went past the half way mark. Little did I know there was another big bomb heading straight my way.
That horrible point between the joy of being over half way, however not close enough to get excited about the finish, that three quarter point in the race that we all hate. There was a lot of self talk going on, along with another caffeine boost. Into the what is universally now known as the ‘pain cave’ I went. This place is a quite bizarre place, you don’t want to talk to anyone, you don’t want to think about anything, your only focus is one foot in front of the other.
So I toughed out a few more laps, with some quite frankly tremendous support from the Positive Steps team and friends & family of other runners. There really isn’t anything quite like the running community for support, it was really incredible, I will be forever grateful.
Before I knew it I was down to a rather emotional last two laps, the joy of knowing you are nearly done was compounded by the misery that you still had two more to do. Finishing the race in 13 hours and 30ish mins meant that I had knocked an hour and a half off my previous 100k effort, the Sport Relief Challenge that I did in April. I am delighted with that.
Having the chance to finish such an epic series of events was all down to Kevin Marshall and his wonderful team of volunteers. This year will live long in the memory for the good reasons and I can’t thank Positive Steps enough.
All in all a tremendous 3 races and a real life changing challenge should you fancy it, you definitely won’t be disappointed with the support you’ll receive.