Tuesday, 28 February 2017

St Peter's Way Ultra

St Peter's Way Ultra is my favourite race hence why I returned for a fourth time on Sunday, it is a 45 (41) mile race from Chippng Ongar to Bradwell-on-Sea. I am going to start with the ending because I am still too excited not to. I got a new PB by 27 minutes and finally a sub 10 hour finish! 9:39 was my official finish time and it was still daylight!

Starting at the finish!!!
Right now I have that out of the way let's go back to the beginning. Training for the race hadn't quite been what I would have liked having only done two runs over 15 miles since last September, I had run every day since January as I am run streaking this year but just hadn't been able to get the long runs in. I think this may of helped on the day as I had none of my usual pre-race stresses or worries. The only plan I had was to have a day for me and fun out on the trails.

I knew quite a few people running and Richard and I had agreed to start together and see what happened. I didn't want to hold anyone up and was happy to run alone if necessary. It was good to catch up with some ultra friends at the start who I hadn't see for a long time, and there was an impressive posse from Great Notley parkrun either running or volunteering.

Raring to go!
 After kit check and the race brief we were off as I have mentioned in previous blogs I have been training using the Maffetone Method and eating LCHF, this would be my first race low carb and I wondered how I would get on not eating jelly beans washed down with coke! My breakfast had been Greek yoghurt with almonds and a tiny amount of honey and a coffee with double cream.
The weather was good and we set off in good spirits with John deciding to join us as well, it was his first ultra. The route was no where near as muddy as I have seen it in the past and the running was good. My heart rate was a bit higher than I had planned but I felt good so went with it, after all it was a race! We soon arrived at CP1 and I ate some  melon, pineapple, grapes and cherry tomatoes (loved the fruit on offer at the CPs this year!)
We met Jody early on in the race and she more or less stayed with us for the whole race, we were all a similar pace most of the day so staying together made sense.
Check point 1
I was surprised how quickly the miles ticked by and unlike my first two years there were always people around. Last year I had run in a group with friends. The only major issue I was having was my new trail shoes were hurting my toes but I had my old knackered pair at CP3 so knew I would be able to change. My heart rate settled during leg 2 and I was feeling good.We didn't waste time at CPs this year getting in and out as quickly as possible. I knew early on by how I felt that sub 10 was possible but tried not to think about it too much, It was great having friends manning some of the CPs and a hug from Andreea, bacon, change of shoes and a cup of tea at CP3 was a real boost! The change of shoes was a race saver and as it wasn't muddy this year my old trail shoes were more than good enough for me to finish the race in.
Leaving CP3 my legs were aching, which was to be expected due to lack of long runs so I instructed Rich that we needed some in race entertainment. We played our usual town game, this time towns and places beginning with W (there are lots!), snog, marry avoid which we will leave out on the trail and never speak of again and the alphabet band/singer game with the twist that you had to sing a line or two of chosen band song! I apologise to anyone that had to endure me singing, still smiling at Jody's comment that she had always thought ultra runners were crazy people and we had proved it! Anyway before I knew it we were heading into Steeple for the long mile through the village to CP4 where Len was waiting with more bacon! Bacon is the way forward in ultra running.
Posing along the trail!
We got into CP4 at 3:45 so I knew I had more than enough time to make sub 10, I was on a mission, head down and off we went for that final leg. I was moving well, energy levels were good and even the bits I was walking I was managing 13 minute miles and was running under 12 minute miles. It was the strongest I have ever remembered feeling in the latter stages of a race. I love the bit of this leg when you reach the sea wall and can see St Peter's Chapel (the finish line) in the distance. Even better this year the wind was behind us! Those last two miles were brilliant and a little emotional (though I'm pretty sure it was the wind making my eyes water!). I ran strongly to the finish and loved that Andreea had run out to meet us!

Richard finished slightly ahead and John and Jody were close behind, awesome effort by all. Lindley handed me my medal and out of the four it's a pretty special one!

During the day I ate fruit, cheese, a few nuts and bacon and had squash to drink, for me it worked and I had no major dips in energy and mentally felt strong and positive throughout the race.

All in all in was a perfect day on the trails, there were some very impressive performances by lots of friends, well done all. For me it was one of my happiest race experiences and I thank each and everyone of you who played a part in making it that way. For me the Maffetone Method, LCHF eating and being so much more relaxed before the race than usual all played a part in what was a very special day for me.

Thanks to all at Challenge Running for another brilliantly organised race, the volunteers were amazing and couldn't have been more helpful and I will be back for number five next year.

Special thanks to Richard, John, Jody, Andreea, Holly, Len and Karen for awesome support throughout the day xx

Happy running xx


  1. Was great to run with you that mile before the sea wall, you were so strong once we hit it I just saw you go off in the distance I finished in 9 hours 41, Paul Flyers Southend