I need to set the scene a little here. I got back from Chamonix over a week ago feeling fit, the day after we returned home we had an awesome day out on the Caldbeck Fells-
It was a really physical day and I remember getting back and feeling exhausted. That’s kind of when the wheels fell off because for the next four days I was ill in bed. Including on my birthday. It was horrendous and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I was able to eat properly and get back to my usual-ish self.
We’d entered the Welcome Ultra a while ago, mostly because the route passed very near to Ed’s parent’s new house in Otley and it was a good opportunity to get to know the area and to stay with them. Should I have done the race after being so ill? Well, maybe not… but I did so there we go.
It had been wet for a few days and more rain was forecast. Luckily we’re talking 31.7miles- could have been worse, at least we’d be done in daylight. Luckily for us, a dramatic turnaround in the forecast meant we had a beautiful day for running and as we arrived at the start in Otley, it was bright, mild and everything was looking pretty good. I did feel tired and I think deep down I was worrying about how my body was feeling after being so ill.
We set off across boggy, muddy fields and footpaths. The defining feature of the whole thing was mud. It was beyond knee deep at times, it was utterly relentless throughout the entire race. Had it not been so wet in the lead up to the race, it would have been a superbly fast course, everything runnable, lovely scenery. As it was….and more to the point, as I was, it was miserable for me as I was feeling physically pretty weak and the mud just drew whatever I had left into the ground.
Just after a railway crossing we found a sheep that was tangled in a barbed wire fence and spent at least 20 mins trying to free it, it was to no avail and Ed phoned the race organisers to try and reach the farmer to help. A couple of other runners tried to help and I lost my competitive placing at that point, to be honest I don’t think I could have sustained my pace for a decent finish anyway plus sometimes you just have to do the right thing for you, and we couldn’t just ignore that poor sheep!
The route takes in villages, moors and farmland. It’s varied and scenic, a winning route. But the mud… man.
The last section of the race climbs to the viewpoint at the top of Otley Chevin. I was done by this point and looking forward to a beer and so caned it on the descent. Ed shouted after me “Are you not even going to look at the view??”
To which I replied “NAH.”
He took a picture for me so I can appreciate it now:
I have to say that the marshals were fantastic and it was a really good set up, so thank you! I said at the end that I wouldn’t do it again, but on reflection….I think I would!