Sunday 18 January 2015

Ranscombe Challenge

Marathon #80  Ranscombe challenge, Kent

This was part of the race series that is held in the South East of England. It was an 8 hour timed run and you could stop when you wanted.
Start Area and Aid station

It was a long day as it was an 8 am start and I live 2 hrs away. I also picked up Marie Chapman en-route at a Gatwick hotel. 4:50 am was up time with a quick breakfast and much scraping ice off the car. It was -4 and freezing. I was on the road by 5:30 am. I had arranged to pick Marie up at 6:30 am and rocked up at 6:40 so slightly behind schedule.

We easily found Cuxton village near Rochester in the South East
RD briefing
of London and parked up in the village. It was a 1 km walk up hill to the busy start area. This was also the aid station that we would visit numerous times throughout the day. There were some portaloos there and after quickly getting the numbers and registering it was 7:55am. So we just about made it. Not everyone was so lucky and there were a few late starters.

Before pic
Both Marie and I started right at the back as we had an issue getting a satellite signal but were off at 8:01. Marie has been in better form than me recently so we agreed that she would go ahead and I would meet her at the end. She is training for the Thames Path 100 miler so needed the time on her feet. It had
Frozen trail
warmed up to -2 when we started and under bright blue skies we ran the first couple of loops on a frozen course.

The 3.8 mile loop was great. The first mile was over open track predominantly downhill. At this stage the path was rough but wide. The fist hill soon appeared and it was a long but runnable trek through a lovely forest section up to a kissing gate high on the South Downs. The gate brought us to a high open track
Marie after first loop
with panoramic views over the whole area. In the frost and cold and bright skies it was spectacular. Quickly we came to another gate and a steep downhill 400 m section that brought us to the second and more significant hill. This hill was for me pretty unrunable and got very very very muddy quickly. It was steep and crested after maybe 10 minutes effort. This was the highest part of the loop and brought us to a long windy forest downhill section. This was a lovely rest-bite and led us to a track that followed the railway. This was very narrow and lasted the guts of a mile.
Lovely forest sections and hills
When it was frozen it was ankle turning rutty running and when muddy was a claggy slog. Eventually we arrived to a short very steep downhill section which was more like a ski ramp particularly when muddy. A last long runnable hill brought us back to the 250m tarmac section and back to the aid station. 7 laps was a marathon and 8 laps was an ultra. Most people seemed to stop after 7 laps.

I managed to keep my loop time to under 45 minutes for the first 6 laps even though it was getting progressively muddier as it warmed up. But more and more of the route became claggy and less and less runnable. I was through 6 laps in 4hrs 25 mins.

Mud kicked in as the Sun came up
Ringing the bell signifies your finished
The last loop was horrendous. I spent a lot of it with a UK based MCI member Stefan originally from Dublin. Both our heads had dropped and we walked all the hills and struggled through the downhill bits.

I was absolutely delighted to finish in just over 5 hrs 30 mins (Over 1 hr for the last lap) and rang the bell to signify that I was finished.

Medal presentation from Traviss
Marie had finished well under 5 hrs and had her soup and coffee
Fantastic medal
already. I got my fantastic medal from Traviss and the great goodie bag but had to leave quickly to get home. I dropped Marie off at Gatwick en route.

It was another super event by and I look forward to the next one.

Garmin stats.

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