Reading Joggers Team Photo

The first week in January and I’ve already got an ultra-event under my belt. With the Arc of Attrition coming up in February (and feeling the guilt from a Xmas blow out) I felt I needed to get a few miles in the legs as some form of preparation and when I spotted the Hillingdon Circuits event by Running Miles then it ticked all the boxes (not too far to travel, 6 hour challenge race, lapped event i.e. easy access to supplies etc.).

I travelled down to the event which was only a 45 minute drive, met up with a few fellow Reading Joggers Steve, Jayne and Nick and organised my supplies for the race.

The event itself took place on a cycle track which we had exclusive use of for the day and the event involved a 6 hour challenge run with participants running as much (or as little) as they wanted within the time limit. I think it’s fair to say most people were probably going to run the marathon distance although personally I was undecided at the start. A marathon distance was the absolute minimum, 50k better and I had 40 miles in my head but deep down I probably knew that I was going to stick out the full time limit otherwise the long training run was no different than any old marathon event.

We set off at 9am and started our first loop. The intention was to run ‘out and back’ each loop so you covered a lap of the course, made a U turn and then headed back. So 1 lap of the race was effectively 2 laps of the course (approx. 1.9 miles in total). With this in mind runners were asked to keep to the left to middle of the course to avoid any head on collisions and course cutting.

I wasn’t totally sure what the best pacing strategy was at first but settled into the ‘comfortably quick’ (i.e. slower than marathon pace but a reasonable) pace.

I ran the first few laps with a couple of guys Toby and David before we were separated by the odd pit stop/comfort break. I had brought my own food supplies and carried out a strategy of pausing every 3 laps (5-6 miles) for a snack and drink. The ‘little and often’ drink/food generally worked well for the race.

The course itself was fairly flat with a few undulations although the weather was bitterly cold at first and it took me 3 laps before I warmed up. It was also pretty breezy with a fair headwind at the start and finish ends each lap (which seemed to get a bit stronger as the race progressed) although I gained the benefit of that at other parts of the course.

I ran mid to low 7m/m pace up until the marathon distance. My quickest lap was mile 25 pacing Simon on his last lap for a new PB (well done!) and as the race progressed beyond this point towards miles 30 and beyond then the pace slowed into the 8m/m ish zone.

After about 3-4 hours I put some music on to distract the mind. This was the test for me as I wanted to go through that phase in a race when you go past that initial ‘freshness’ and then get your second wind and revert to ‘ultra-shuffle’ phase. Knowing I could stop at any time after the marathon distance was also a small mental test. Cut short a 6 hour race and then there’s no chance of me seeing out a 24 hour track race later in the year!

With the ‘out and back’ nature of the course, other runners faces became very familiar with the odd wave or encouragement being offered and given. However, the course started to get quieter as the majority of people completed the marathon distance and stopped.

At the 5 hour mark I started to slack off a bit mentally and took the odd 30 second walk break each lap. Realising I was flagging a touch, I switched my play list to the power tracks (i.e. The best of Queen) and ate/drank a bit more to get me through the last hour.

As we approached the 6 hour mark, I was working out if I could finish the current lap and sneak in one more (the rules stated as long as you set out before 6 hours then you were ok). With about 44 miles ish on the Garmin I thought that was enough for the day and actually started to dawdle a bit before changing my mind mid lap and then picking up the pace to see if I could finish this lap prior to the 6 hour mark. The answer… just about!

With 3 seconds to spare and a bit of sprint I made it through (and did ask if I could start another which was ok) and managed to complete one more bonus lap.

I trotted around the last lap to finish in 6 hours 15 minutes with between 46-48 miles covered (course marked route showed 46.8 miles, Garmin showed 47.8 miles) and having covered the most distance of the runners on the day. Overall, it was a pretty decent run although my legs felt a bit stiff and sore afterwards as that had been my longest run for 3 months.

Someone get this man a new hat!

The medal design was “Another Medal in the Wall” which I am assuming was a Pink Floyd type theme.

Thanks to Steve & Jeff (and volunteers) from the Running Miles team for hosting the event. This was the first time I have taken part in one of their events which was friendly, well organised and good value for money and I will definitely be back for event in the future.

Event website here

Race Results here

Strava Activity here

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