Dave Rowe reports from this year’s Ripon 35 Ultra race.
In the week leading up to the race it appeared everyone around me was coming down with a cold so when it got to Friday night I was a relieved man that I had escaped its evil clutches. We set of at 6.30, my driver for the day, my widow of the last 14 weeks Jules and sister in law Jan who had volunteered to spend the day in coffee houses and shops of Harrogate.
We arrived in plenty of time for the registration and pre race briefing, I thought the briefing would be a bit more than don’t litter and last one through shuts the gate but I suppose what else is there to say. 9 o’clock and of we went with some fine autumn sun in our faces. After about 4 miles I turned some strangers into friends, one of them a fine map reader, so my chances of getting lost had receded some what. The first 10 miles were pretty comfortable, nothing more than a nice Sunday morning training run but as we chatted one of the group of 4 remarked that he was sure the 2nd half was the interesting bit. miles 10-13 were indeed interesting running through clarts, small streams and thick woodland I really was enjoying myself, even when I slipped to the amusement of the group. We arrived at the 2nd checkpoint (14 miles) topped ourselves up with fruitcake, quick drink and off again.
The next 5 miles to the 3rd checkpoint were mostly on roads or tracks but it had become somewhat lumpy, with experienced words of Wishart and Hurse ringing in my head I walked up a couple of hills. checkpoint 3 came and went at 19 miles and this is when it become “interesting”. The course took us deep into a valley where we were met with 4ft bracken (forgive me if this is wrong, I’m no David Bellamy) and what I’m sure was quicksand, which yours truly ended up knee deep in it, but at least I was keeping the others spirits up!! The climb out was tough, even at walking pace. after 24 miles 4 became 2 as 2 guys dropped of a little. we then caught a group of 4 but this didn’t last as after a very rugged section my right knee started telling me that even though I was having the time of my life it was not! So at 26 miles it was time to run on my own.
Up and down the course went and through more mud, a hippo would have a fantastic time on this course. I got to the last pit stop at 27 miles feeling very good, the knee had settled slightly, time 5.15 and only 8 miles left, easy right? The next 3 miles were very hilly and at one point the course took me through a section that looked like man had not discovered yet. I started to look at the map but i don’t speak dutch so I resorted to looking for footmarks in the clarts (mud to our southern members). The miles really did start to come by very slowly at this point and I was rejoined by the 2 guys who had of dropped only 7 miles earlier but seemed an age ago. The course at this point was now back to road and tracks but at 33 miles the knee wasn’t having fun again so I let the 2 guys go and I settled into a pace it liked.
At 34 miles I reached Fountains Abbey, a very beautiful place especially when its the last mile and down hill!! I turned into the small village of Studley Roger a very happy man, Jules was there with a loving kiss, relieved that I had made it, she was a little concerned I was going to get lost. My time was 7.07, the last 8 miles took me a mere 1.50.
T-shirt, medal and more fruitcake awaited me in the village hall. Did I have fun you bloody bet I did, I would recommend this to anyone, I hate hills but I just loved this. Next year we need to enter a team, 4 guys, 1 lady so come on have a think. To end on a sad note I now have a cold, bugger!!!
For more information about the 2013 event click here