The 2017 Dartmoor 50, was a race of many sizeable achievements. Sarah Morwood set the course record 08:37:44. Which remains to this day. It was my 2nd Ultra and my friends Andy 1st. Further elaboration below.
To start with. I want to briefly mention the reason I got in to ultra’s in the first place. It was all due to the man below, Pete. The photo made it on to the Freedom Racing website. Its a great shot. If you know this hill? (just after pit stop 4) quite how he is smiling is still beyond me.
I owe him a lot. He planted the idea in my mind. Admittedly, my initial interest in doing a non stop ultra was to get out of doing a road half marathon. Oh, how the brain works at times! Pete is a fantastic ambassador to the sport, and a super friend. He will be taking on the Albion Running 100 mile event, and he will be competing in the Dartmoor 50 in 2020.
Pre-Race briefings are extremely important. Tom gives one of the best. Tom & Nikki get all aspects to ultras right, I have learnt so much from them. He and Nikki are both great runners also. That is important. I worry that due to the meteoric rise in ultras, a big conglomerate will buy all the ultra companies and completely commercialise the sport. We must all do our bit to stop that happening.
Now, quite why my left leg is in the air is beyond me. Oh yes stretching. A stretcher would be a more likely scenario.
Which is a word to all on preparation. We did our best to follow Pete’s very wise advice. But advice is often wasted on the young and carefree. This is why today, Ultra Freedom Adventures very strongly endorse you get fully prepared for this type of event, or as prepared as possible in the time. We can help so do not panic.
Freedom Racing deploy sweepers on all their races. One of the must haves in my opinion. That is me (photo didn’t make the front page, strangely) and our sweeper. In this shot he is shaking his head thinking “I am not sure these two are going to make it” James ended up being with us all day. And he was outstanding.
I especially liked it when James who had clearly had enough of me at this point, pointed to a far away Tor and said “you see that Tor in the far distance, the one you climbed some time ago? ” Me eagerly thinking this was going to be good news. “yes, yes I see it James” James answered “well your going to have to climb it all over again” Uhmm. The price you pay I suppose. For those of you that know me understand why James said this. Perfection is a hard bed fellow.
If I am really honest with myself and you. I didn’t prepare anywhere near well enough. I thought after my 1st ultra. The Race to the Tower which took me 21:50:49. (my logic!) I had cracked it. But ultras like life are full of learning opportunities. Which is what I love about them. Life lessons crammed in to 24hrs.
I don’t mind admitting there were times we both wanted to stop. https://ultrafreedomadventures.com/home/welcome/ Try this link. My thoughts on Mental Resilience. Never ever stop moving. Unless you are injured keep on moving. Be mindful it does take time to build mental resolve, but there is no better time spent in my opinion. This will help, and support you with your day to day mental health. We all have mental health look after it.
We even pleaded with James to allow us not to do the final Tor. James response was unequivocal “no way, you finish correctly or you DNF they are the rules” I must thank James once again for that highly valuable lesson. The greatest gift in life is to triumph over the odds.
Andy, my other friend who started with me and Pete, managed to finish with me joint last but within the cut off time of 18hrs. Which was a humongous triumph for him as he was in some discomfort, due to old injuries. Pete was a very respectable 7th overall.
A word of thanks to Tom’s father an avid ultra walker for convincing Tom to have such a generous cut of time. 50 miles in 18hrs = 2.7 MPH. That is a good target for fast walking the entire race.
The 2018 Dartmoor 50
Fast forward to 2018. I convinced my dear friends Youssef and James to join us for another adventure. For Youssef, this was only his 2nd Ultra. We had both completed the Race to the Tower Earlier in the year. For James this would be his 1st ultra. I had completed 3 ultras in 2018 prior to the Dartmoor 50 and was feeling better prepared and more confident.
Youssef as cool as cucumber. Finding it marginally amusing watching James saying “does my number look straight”
James faffed so much. He managed to puncture his bladder. Much hilarity ensued. This however wouldn’t be so funny later on though, as I relied upon them both for water. My advice practice packing your bag many times.
The weather was perfect in 2018 and we all got of to a great start. My only issue (another lesson) was the distance between pit stop 2 and 3. Its 10++ miles. You need to carry plenty of water between them. I also had an attack of Cystitis between 2 and 3. A very painful 40 miles thereafter. “Pain is only temporary, memories last forever” never forget that. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cystitis/
The race went very well. James and Youssef were the perfect runner partners for the day. Youssef provided much laughter with his quotes during on the race… “this is torment when will the hills ever end” that will be with me for the rest of my days. James did amazingly well. He didn’t complain once. We also managed to push each other to both complete the race in under 16 hrs. Youssef finishing just behind us.
I was also absolutely delighted as my wife and son came to checkpoint 3 to meet us all. If you have the support of your family on these days it makes all the difference.
The best news for 2018 apart from having an absolute hoot with James and Youssef. I didn’t come last. Mine and James joint finish times were 15:59:33. Youssef time was 16:22:15.
A fabulous race very much loved. We are planning to get a much bigger group together for the 2020 Dartmoor 50. We are also planning a number of training marathon runs on the moor of the actual route. To sign up to the race use this link: http://www.dartmoorhighground.com/dartmoor-ultra-50
Our training days will be published on the web site calendar and Facebook. I hope you like the post. Thank you Freedom Racing for being so AWESOME.