Maverick Race: Peak District Ultra Marathon

Maverick Race: Peak District Ultra Marathon

The Maverick Race: Peak District Ultra.  A 70 km ultra-marathon on a technical course with moderate vertical height gain throughout.  This was my longest ultra to date, the last one I ran being less than 60 km, so it was going to be a challenge.

As it turned out, the race wasn’t the only challenge I faced, in face, the whole weekend was an ordeal.  I left work early on the Friday, so I’d get to the pre booked campsite for 6 for an early night of eating pasta and a cosy night in my van.  Sadly, this wasn’t to be.  As I was travelling North on the M5 having just cleared Gloucester, a warning light lit up on the dashboard and my van lost all power.  I safely got into the hard shoulder and called the RAC.  After a 2hr30min wait along came the late recovery wizard from the RAC.

My poor Caddy not looking its best!

After plugging in the diagnostic tool, the fault identified was a failed injector.  Unfortunately, this was not fixable on the side of the road I was towed back to a garage in Gloucester.

Thankfully, I discovered that I had onward journey cover (thank you past Dicken) and managed to get a hire car 5 mins before they closed. If I had failed to get a replacement vehicle I would have been stuck in Gloucester.  Armed with a Vauxhall Astra Turbo, I had to get back on the road to the Peak District, 5 hours after I originally left.

Next issue, now I am going to have to sleep in an Astra before running an ultra… Oh s**t… Thankfully I have some epic friends, one of whom helped me so much and booked me a hostel for me whilst I drove up. This was the journey and all before I embarked on the longest race I have ever entered. What an ordeal. So not enough sleep and my intended pre carb loading wasn’t to be.

Saturday came quickly. I had made it to the start line. 

Somehow, I made it to the start of the race

Now I needed to focus on the race.  The first 42 km marathon distance passed quickly and were enjoyable.  The hills were tough and the decent were leg crushing but I was feeling good.

Feeling good during the first 42 km
Enjoying the views along the flat segment

I was keeping up with my nutrition plan was working well so I had plenty of energy.  I enjoyed the first sections and then through a long, relatively flat segment I chatted with other runners along the way. 

Ice cream should be part of everyone’s nutrition plan

Trail runners are often in a good mood doing what they love and so there is lots of good chat to be had along the way.  Part of the reason why I love it so much.

I reached around 55 km and oh boy, did the pain hit in. There was a section on a single track that weaved up and down undulating hills which made keeping a steady pace very difficult.  I started to slow and the infamous “wall”.  My party trick in these circumstances is to pull out a SIS Double Espresso Gel.  I try not to have too many gels during a race as they can give me indigestion while running but these ones can be a real get out of jail free card.

The “undulating” single track

The final 10 km had a set of difficult ascents and descents stacked tightly together. 

Approaching on of the penultimate climbs

A closer view, it wouldn’t have been so bad if I wasn’t 60+ km into the race

When approaching the start of a climb, I came across a Spanish runner who I had been chatting with earlier.  He was in a bad way and had been sick.  I stopped to share my water and offer food.  The declined the food but accepted the water and then insisted that I press on.  After questioning this he shouted for me to continue, so I did.    

As I reach the top of the final hill, I could see the end in sight. I could still make my target. I pushed on, trying to ignore the tightness of my legs and the fatigue so I could to finish the 70km run in sub 10hr.

The finishing area can be seen in the right of the picture, it was so close yet so far

I finished in9hr51min. I was elated to have overcome all the difficulties along my journey and to still achieve my sub 10-hour goal. My feet were rather unpleasant, I had rubbed through various bits of skin.  As I sat basking in the sunshine, the Spanish runner can staggering across the finish line. We embraced and celebrated our achievements.  I was very glad to see he had made it. 

Success is best paired with a bottle of Freedom Brewery beer

After I was very stiff, with a few new blisters and tight muscles in areas I did not know existed, but I had, and still have one monumental sense of achievement after what has been an epic weekend and a great Maverick Race.

An exhausted but elated finished. What a weekend!
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