Wednesday 21 December 2016

Usual Suspects

#169 Usual Suspects Day 1  30.8 miles
#170 Usual Suspects Day 2  30.8 miles

Traditional tree Photo
The weather had been particularly mild all week and the forecast for the weekend was relatively warm at 10-12 degrees with virtually no wind. This was pretty much perfect conditions. The only thing that was standing in the way was the monster that is the Samphire Hoe traditional course with its 8 nasty hills and 1500ft of climb over marathon distance.

Sea front
I decided to travel down on the Friday evening and picked up both Brenda and Collette on the way. The big attraction for this particular race was the medal which incorporates all of the starters names and had sold out pretty much a year ago. Booking into our favorite Folkstowne hotel we checked out our equally favorite spoonies with the hope of a Christmas menu. Unfortunately the Christmas dinner wasn't on, but burgers, vegetarian wellington and of course the price as always was amazing.

Apryl's 100th
Traviss thinking of us, had a relatively late start at 9am which meant time for breakfast. We arrived to calm, mild conditions for an efficient check in. Yearly awards were given out and we were ready to go by 9am. I havn't been in great form recently so decided to take it easy as I had a baby ultra in mind today. On the first lap however I fell in with bad company in the form of Enda Cleary who decided to rattle the first 2 laps off in 37 minutes each and kept going.  Much talk of network
The lads
freezes and ancient computers kept us amused.

The conditions were nearly perfect with just the slightest of breezes. I was enjoying myself and taking it easy. Half marathon came in 2:15 and I likely slowed down after that spending much time at the aid stations stuffing my face with mulled wine and apple and cinnamon fudge (yum!). Going well today was Noel Kennan (parents from Monaghan) who did a comfortable 50K in sub 5hrs. This was the start of Noels 100 mile attempt which will be back here in July. I will be watching on with interest.

Small Bridge
Collette and Brenda were running really strong today and were not that far behind me and came through half way in sub 5hr pace but slowed a bit in the second half, but still had good times on what was a humid day. There was much fancy dress out there which brightened everything. I came through marathon in a very modest time but had plenty of time before the cut off to go out for a 8th lap to make the ultra, and comfortably came in under 6 hrs to finish. The room beside the aid station was open with a lovely wood burning stove. This is a great facility to have together with the cafe just feet away. The medal was as expected spectacular.

Along the railway
We had been expecting Eimear Hurley over for Sunday but got the terrible news that she was fog-bound in Dublin and had cancelled her trip. We immediately decided to drown our sorrows in spoonies again, this time we were joined by Sean Smith and family. It was a lovely evening.

Sunday had us up for a deja vu, as we hit for Samphire Hoe for more of the same. Today it was Apryl Hammet and Theresa Massey's 100th celebrations and Theresa twin sister Julia was celebrating her 52 in 52 to become the first twins (probably globally) to complete an official 52 in 52. There was much excitement all day with a massive 150 field on the course. There was much cake which I seemed to miss totally as I was on the course too long.

Back in the heat
Similar to yesterday we headed off on the 3.85 mile loop. I was slightly slower today but again was not killing myself. I went through a very low period in laps 3,4 and 5 and several people stopped me to ask if I was OK. I must have looked grey. Pete Elliot also seemed to be struggling and called it a day after 5 laps I believe.

Then I started on the Coke after lap 5 and had a second wind. I immediately rationed my Coke so I had enough for the rest of the day. I felt much better.  There was a great atmosphere on the course with the 100 celebrations with most b2bers going a little slower than Sat and there was much chat on the way round. Extraordinary efforts were still there however and particularly Jools who rattled off 10 laps today in fine style with his sprint finish on lap10 something to behold. There was lots of talk today on how we managed 27 laps back in July. It seems unfathomable now. It was great to meet Charlie Harwood on the course for the first time (I don't know how I missed her in the past).

Feeling much better at marathon distance (in a very slow time) I decided to make it a b2b Ultra weekend and went out for an extra lap to complete my 36th ultra. When I came in most everyone had gone including all the cake. Collette and I headed off and I dropped her at Gatwick on the way home for a very nice weekend.

Photos  Dee Rand and Trish Randall

Stats for the day

Day 1

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