Saturday 22 October 2016

Winnie the Pooh

#161 Winnie the pooh Wander  31.5 miles 6:23:35
#162 Tigger Bouceathon    5:57:06

Amazing ledals

Twins (same fancy dress both days)
This was an AA Milne themed weekend that is sure to go on and on with next year already booked up with Eeyore and Piglet in the spotlight. AA Milne lived in and around Ashdown forest in East Sussex and it provided the inspiration for 100 Acre Wood and all of the familiar areas that featured in the Winnie the Pooh series of books.

Pooh Start (150)
This event had long sold out and there was a reasonable crowd of us had traveled over from Ireland for the event. As it was fancy dress friendly we all had made an effort to dress up. Some more than others with Collette O'Hagan's Piglet being special. Collette, Kris and Finn were with me and we rolled up to the new venue early on the Saturday dutifully dressed up to pick up our numbers. Finn unfortunately, just back from vacation in Spain, had a trail running incident that had likely cracked a couple of ribs and struggled all weekend, but bravely did 10 miles on day 1 and 15 miles on day 2 when less would have sufficed.

Fun before the start
There was also great secrecy around the medals which would only be shown after the start. During the race briefing Traviss also announced that the course was a little hillier than he remembered and the the cut off for being out on the last lap would be extended to 6hrs. My intention was to run all of the allotted time on both days. Spot on time we were off. The weather for day 1 was perfect with just the right amount of chill in the air.

The course was a figure of 8 with a small and a big loop meeting back at the aid station. The first loop of just over 2 miles, and reminded me a lot of the unbelievable course that was "the wedding day challenge", just down the road (also in Ashdown forest). It was hilly, very hilly. For the first mile you plunged down hill on open rough trail until you hit a small forested section, which when exited,  you kept going down along a long grassy section until you hit the low point of the course. Then you zig zagged your way all the back up again with long flat bits interspersed with 3 un-runnable sections. This is as hilly as you will ever come across and by the time we had made your way back to aid station the field had spread out. The second 3 mile odd loop was a lot flatter but still had some long drag uphills. The trail was generally good condition and the views when you reached the heights were spectacular over Sussex.
Coming to the end of small lap

Bounceathon start
Kris had pulled away quickly and Collette did what Collette does with Finn struggling bad from the rib injury. I really enjoyed the course, difficult as it was, and ran most of it on my own passing and being passed by a few (except Paul Cummons who stuck with me for 2 days). At >3000 ft climb over marathon distance it was one of the most challenging trails that you will come across. As I came up to marathon distance in 5:08 I was well within the cut off and quickly decided to keep going. When I eventually came in after just over 50K, I was 6th overall out of 150 starters. Mean time Collette finished her marathon and Kris managed a 36.8 mile distance for 2nd overall and first female home. The medal was special and in the shape of Pooh's head. One thing we noticed about today was that there was no water bottles on the aid station and we really struggled for sugaury drinks. We didnt make that mistake on day 2 and had a ready supply of coke and Mountain Dew.

Kris on the way to a double b2b win
We got back to the hotel and had a lovely surprise when Sean and Brenda turned up and after a bit of "not finding a restaurant" we ate in the hotel and had an early night. Mean time a storm moved in and it rained and rained and rained.

Double Ultra winner (Tigger)
The results of the rain were obvious the next day as the course had really muddied up and I was jealous of all of those with trail shoes as there was definite advantage today.  About half the field were back for a double with a lot of fresh legs around and big Tigger theme with lots more in customs compared to the day before. The rain was still falling as we started but was due to stop with in the hour which it duly did.

Collette after 52 miles
The running conditions were OK but the course was a lot more difficult and with road shoes I had to go very carefully especially on the steep downhill. I started a lot slower today and around laps 3 and 4 got very slow and struggled to get any pace going at all. Kris again had gone quickly into the distance and Collette does what Collette does. Finn was feeling a little better and started late and manged 3 laps. I think she would have finished marathon if she had started on time. I was too-ing and frow-ing a lot with Brian Mills today who was remarkably strong.  I was spot on 5 hrs when heading out on my 5th loop and Brian was just ahead of me. At the 2 mile mark he stepped aside and I was determined to try and get under 6hrs if I could. I decided to run all the hills in the final 3 miles and soon pulled away. I even managed to catch around 5 others on this loop and did a 57 min final lap nearly 16 minutes better than the previous 2 laps. This brought me in just under 6 hrs. I thought for 10 secs that I could go out again but decided against it and stuck at marathon. Kris mean time did 31.5 miles and came in 3rd over all and first lady again. Collette as normal finished her marathon on what has to be said was a tough tough tough course in difficult conditions and you will go a long way to find a tougher b2b.

Fancy cake
There were lots of 100 marathon celebrations this weekend and the most amazing cake for Crustie and Liz.

We headed off to the airport all tired and muddy and still in fancy dress and have booked up for next year already. I suspect it will sell out pretty soon.

Photos courtesy off: Philip rand and Paul Johnston

Strava Stats for the weekend

Winnie the Pooh


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