Sunday 1st November I found myself up at 5.30 am, getting ready for my biggest running challenge of 2015. I love a challenge, I love running and always wanting to push myself to the next level. White Rose Ultra was perfect with it being notorious for its tricky course of bogs and the hills as I was to find out and it being in my home of beautiful yorkshire. I had also decided to run to raise some money for a York based charity I had discovered recently and the work they do is something that I am very passionate about. They work to promote and protect the human rights of some of the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in Africa, the Middle East and South America. For me part of their work is really close to my heart as they work with women to educate them on their rights in places where domestic violence is just treated as the “norm” as well as supporting women to become financially independent by supporting and empowering them to set up their own social enterprises. Find out more about the charity here: http://www.internationalservice.org.uk/
My friend J was also running so we set off on our Sunday adventure, the sun was out, clear skies, perfect! The minute we arrived there was the lovely warmth and friendliness that you find in the ultra-running community from other runners! I was feeling nervous though, the adrenaline was kicking in aware of what I was about to do. I was thinking, what am I doing and will I be able to do it? Even if I had to crawl I would finish the 60 miles, mind over matter I kept telling myself
8am came and the race started, we went on our adventure, it was fun, the sun was shining, the scenery was beautiful and we just chatted away as the miles passed. We crossed muddy fields, hills that just seemed to get steeper and bigger, I laughed, chatted away to fellow runners, hearing their reasons, their stories, was inspired by the 100 mile runners who had started at midnight.
The 60 miler consists of running two 30 mile laps, so while you are running the first lap you are aware you will have to do it all again. I was also conscious of pacing, making sure I would have the energy for the 2nd lap. The volunteers at the feed stations were friendly and supportive always with a smile which is what you need it gives you a little boost on the way round.
The weather added an extra challenge, while I was grateful for the sun shining and clear skies especially following a week of rain, rain and more rain. It wasn’t expected and as a result at 20 miles coming over what felt like a never ending hill, I could feel myself really over heating and I had run out of water! Quick change, put on my vest, little rest at the top of the hill and I soon cooled down, phew but who would have believed on the 1st November I would be running through Yorkshire countryside in a vest until the early evening and I even got a bit of a tan!!
The first 30 miles, were fun, got to the checkpoint in about 6 hours 15 mins, which was a good time, I felt I was running well. After a quick fuel up on food and drink I was ready for lap 2 and I was feeling a 2nd wind, burst of energy. The next 10 miles, were beautiful the sun was setting, I was amazed at how well my body felt, thought legs were beginning to feel pain, my energy was high.
Then the sunset, the head torches came out, my legs became heavier, the muscle pain and fatigue began to really set in. This was the point where I needed to begin to dig deep, it was when conversation reduced as I went into myself to find the strength I knew I was going to need for the next 20 miles.
Running in the dark adds a further challenge to the run, as running off road, the ground can be uneven, muddy, going down hill particularly on steep hills. The hills became harder to climb, with muscle fatigue hitting the legs. By 45 miles my whole body was hurting but I knew it was just about keeping going, I could slow down but never stop. To keep me going I thought about the people International Service supported and the work they did, I thought of all the people I love, how blessed I feel to have the wonderful supportive friends in my life. I thought about my own personal challenges I have overcome in my past, telling myself If I can get through that I can get through anything. I went through many thoughts, as I kept digging deep mentally, keeping my strength to keep going. I thought of all the heart-breaking but inspiring stories of people I have met and worked with throughout my life who have overcome adversity, I have always found the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity is an incredible. I was also grateful for the companionship of Jay who I ran with the entire race and also his friend, Chris who came to support on his bike, he talked and shared his own stories with me, which kept me distracted and motivated. Teamwork makes the dreamwork, Jay and Chris were my little white rose ultra team, so grateful for their company through the darkness of the last few miles.
One thing that kept coming to me during the race was that limitations are merely things we place on ourselves, we are whatever we believe, we achieve what we believe we can. When we take away our limitations of what we think we are capable of and open up to see anything is possible, we free ourselves to reach a new level of potential and discover new adventures. This thought kept me going for the last few miles. By the end every step hurt, my body hurt, it was screaming at me to stop but I would not give in. When we got to the finish line, I couldn’t believe it exhausted but happy, what a journey, what an adventure! An achievement, 60 miles, 14hours 47 minutes, 8000 feet of climbing, mud, bogs, naked bars, chocolate covered espresso beans, flapjacks, jam sandwiches, new friendships, shared adventures! What a Sunday, what an adventure, what an experience! Thank you to White Rose Ultra for an amazing race, to all the lovely volunteers, my fellow runners! Thank you to International Service for their support and to all my beautiful friends who supported with kind wishes and generous sponsorship! And massive thank you to Jay and chris who was the best running companion and for the conversation that kept me going!
Now rock on 2016 and the next challenge. . .
Much love xxx
For anyone still wishing to sponsor me please go to the link: