The Fellsman is labelled as one of the toughest (if not the toughest) UK Off-Road ultra marathons. It’s a horseshoe, 61 Mike route, with 11,000 feet of vertical ascent on an unmarked course that is mostly off track. I completed it late last night, having been given special permission to run it barefoot or in Luna sandals.
Now, I really don’t think they expected me to stick with the barefoot thing, and at mile 40, I was grouped with 3 great runners, but was told shoes on or no more running in the race. Rules are rules, so on went the shoes and sad thing is they have caused a fair sized lump on the top my left foot, where the shoe was obviously pressing on one of my tendons. Still, I have no one to blame but myself.
During the race I was planning on making some videos but the conditions where harsh, and navigation takes too much concentration to allow random videos, but I did make a note of how I felt every 10 or so miles, so here’s what Tailwind Nutrition is like.
5 miles with 4000′ of constant climb, and I felt fine. In fact I felt rather good, with plenty of juice in the legs to push up the field. I managed the nutrition in take (only tailwind) fairly well, with gradual sips along the way.
At mile thirteen after a ridiculous 2 mile climb up Gargarath, at a 3m to 4m in 1m gradient, I felt great! Tailwind was going down a treat, nothing was really tired, and I felt like I had plenty of energy despite the really harsh, wet and windy conditions.
Then I made a mistake with my intake. It’s actually hard to know how long you’ve been moving (distance or time) when you haven’t got a watch on. I didn’t really refuel with anything for the next 10 miles. The most input in was about a third of a bottle of Tailwind mix, so the inevitable slow down happened.
Here’s the bit I learnt.
With other nutrition, when I’ve not managed it well, I’ve never really managed to regain the same composure and energy level. It’s pointless battle that inevitably leads to the desperation shuffle. I mixed up some tailwind and started to drink it in small amounts but far more often. In a 3 mile stretch I made sure I drank at least 1/2 a bottle.
Everything carried on working, but my energy levels started to return. No gut issues meant I upped the intake again. Energy levels felt awesome, which I really needed to try and push through serious foot pain cause by the shoes I was made to put on due to ‘safety’ and ‘insurance’. This is what amazed me! I’d caught up again!? I didn’t really feel like I’d reached a low point from not eating enough, and even at mile 59, after 18 hours of trudging through swap like, endless bogs, I could still manage to run! And, because of the electrolytes in the drink I didn’t cramp up or suffer from dehydration. In fact I finished and (sorry about the typically trail runner thing to say!) my pee wasn’t dark?!
It seems the American hype is less hype, and more fact 👍🏻
Now here’s the best bits of the race. The few hours when the weather dramatically improved 🙂