Wednesday 16 August 2017

Darnley Challenge

#201 Darnley Challenge

I did this route once before as day 3 of a 4 Ultras in 4 days effort this time last year. It is one of my favorite trail routes as it takes in around 4 other marathon routes and ties them together. I love the forest sections and the views in Ranscombe never disappoint.

Overall its a 13.1 mile loop that you have to finish within 8 hours. The twist this year was that you have to be out on your last loop after 4hrs 30 mins. Last year it was 5hrs 30 and given where I am at the moment, this left me with really only the option of 2 loops and a marathon. Even at that it turned out a little long at 27 miles odd.

Also slightly different from last year the start and finish was within Jeskins Park and it was a double out and back route. Similar to last year it was part of a quad but today it was day 2, last year it was day 3.

It was great to see Paddy Quinn over from Cavan after his amazing 10th Belfast 24hr 100 miles effort last month.

With Paddy Quinn
From Jeskins we nipped through the hedge that got us pretty much straight onto the lightning bolt course from the Cyclopark. A long sweeping downhill brought us onto the Bridges (Rabbit bridge) over the M2 and onto the main cycle track. We followed this undulating wide cycle track all the way to main cyclopark building before turning and retracing our steps to Jeskins. Running past the fantastic aid station we ran through Jeskins on its wide good trails before exiting at the back of Cobham village. Turning left from Battle St onto  the Main St, we ran through the village before turning right at the war memorial. This brought us to a quiet country road that led to the main hill upto the Mausoleum. Climbing this hill and straight past the Mausoleum we were now on the familiar Ranscombe farm reserve traditional loop. Some great downhills , the track along the railway line and across a field we came to the Dee and Helen aid station. Heading on with the loop we crossed a couple of fields before climbing back to the Mausoleum. We then retraced our steps back to the start and finish area. Then did it all again.

Lee was the only one who went Ultra today.

Finished with Andrew
I ran with Leon Hicks and crew for the first half which was slow at just over 3 hrs. We had a lovely time tooing and froing with everyone. The weather was hot and there was plenty of sun cream on. The second lap for me was a more solitary affair  as I limped and struggled around the course. Still I had a very enjoyable day and walked the last mile in with Andrew before he headed off to do an extra bit as he got lost on the first lap. I was home in 6:21.

Even at this I was mid pack as this was a particularly challenging course at >2100ft of climb.

The usual big medal was there with goodie bag and I was home again in 2 hrs.

Photos Philip Rand:

Stats for today:

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