The race started at 1p.m. on Friday so I had plenty of time in the morning to have a good breakfast, make sure I had everything ready for the day and relax before heading down to the start to register. As this was my first race for quite a while I had a really good balance of nerves and excitement, I just wanted to get started. The vibe at the start of the race was so different from any other race I had ever experienced, normally the elite athletes are in a world of their own, focusing on the race not talking to the other competitors, but here everyone was chatting and there was a real buzz of excitement for what lay ahead!! It truly was a gathering of like minded nutters!
We had a short race briefing, a rendition of "The Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash and then we were off. The first stage was 32 miles so my tactics were to stick with the leaders up to around halfway and then if I felt good to push on. What I didn't know was that one of my competitors was a top Ultramarathon runner named Stuart Mills, and after about half a mile he went flying off, we probably did the next mile in sub 6 minutes which I definitely wasn't expecting!
|Only 130miles left to run. Leading the Ring O' Fire along side "Ultra Stu"|
I finally bumped into Q (one of the race organisers) who told me there was only half a mile to go and when I finished I found I was only ten minuted behind Stuart but I had run two miles further!! If I had only kept my map in hand and not gone the wrong way I would have been leading!! Luckily due to the reading on my Garmin proving I had run further than needed I didn't get disqualified!! After a beautiful hot shower and a good bowl of pasta in a local Italian I bedded down for the night in the local village hall ready for the toughest days running of my life, 64miles of hell!!
Day 2 tomorrow......