Monday 2 January 2017

Winchelsea Chase

#173 Winchelsea Chase 32.55 miles in allotted time

This was another coincidental run. Linz and Libs were flying back to Dublin from Gatwick early doors and when I searched around I came across this event that was reasonably close to Gatwick. There was no way that I was going to make the start time but a quick email exchange with the RD and it was all sorted.

This race was part of a relatively new race series based in Winchelsea and its Rye Harbor Nature Reserve. Its inevitable that it will be compared to the other race series in the area and I have to say it holds up well.

As expected I arrived late (around 20 minutes) and everyone had already left. There was no problem checking in at the HQ with its most amazing aid station. It was all very Vegan friendly but had crisps, sweets, cakes, drinks, watermelon, nuts and lots of other things. It was a great start. I was told there were around 80 already out on the course.

Aid station
The course itself was a 5.3 mile loop that was sperm shaped. You started at the tail and ran along the sea front. The first mile was behind flood defenses on a tarmac path before climbing and opening up  to show panoramic views of the English channel. It was cold about 1 degree and a base layer, T shirt , hat and gloves were needed. After 1.8 miles there was a sharp left turn into the nature reserve and though initially very pebbly became grassy and soft. This 1.7 mileish stretch circled some lakes and was pretty flat except for a 10m section that vertical. you followed this around to complete the circle and then retraced your steps back to the aid station.

Beautiful day

I met the leaders about 1 mile on their way back, included with them not surprisingly was Lee Rogers. But what was surprising was he didn't do Ultra today and stopped at marathon. I then passed pretty much the rest of the race on their way back as they were well ahead of me.

back at HQ
There was the new European record holder Elaine Dean who today stopped after 2 laps. This doesnt surprise me after 120+ marathon/Ultra effort in 2016. I eventually started to catch the back markers after around 3 miles. The first lap was around 50 minutes and I headed out immediately again. I fell in with Rhys Pippard for a lap. Rhys being half of one of the Ultra power couples. Much talk of past glory and future plans left me with 2 new phrases that I will use often. Winter weight and racing weight.....  We passed Brian Mills on his 1237th marathon (not including ultras) and Nick Nicholson who is out for the world record this year after an amazing 202 marathons in 2016.

The laps were counted by ticking off a wrist band but I suspect this wasn't needed as the organisers knew exactly how many laps people had done. There was also roving marshals on bikes and I felt we were very well looked after, and it was safe.

Rhys and the organisers
Half way came in 2:13 and I plodded on the very busy sea front (lots of dogs, prams and bikes) for another few laps enjoying the sunshine though it never warmed up. When I came upto marathon distance Rhys sped past at 7 minute miles to complete his 7 in 7. I turned in plenty of time before the cutoff and headed out for an ultra which I duly completed in around 6 hrs.

The organisers were really friendly and gave me a lovely "we run, they run, I run" medal. Inside HQ was a table full of goodies and you could do yourself up a goodie bag and some of the nicest vegan friendly vegetable soup I have ever had.

I really enjoyed today and the organisation was superb. I suspect that only one course may become a little samey and the organisers will join the bling extravaganza that is currently happening. The course as well was very busy and becuase of this difficult to get a good pace going on and I had a few run ins with dogs en-route. But would I do it again?  absolutely.

I'll put up some photos when they are published.

Stats for today.

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