Fitness fan and amateur runner Stuart Blofeld decided to see how far he could go with his running – lieterally. He took part in a recently established 100 mile ultra race in the UK called the North Downs Way 100 (NDW100).
His story has not been told online before…
“The format was simple – 100 miles out and back along the North Downs Way. The field was made up of both 50 mile runners going ‘out’ only and finishing at Knockholt Pound and those of us also making the return leg and completing the 100.”RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
We all lined up together and were off at 6am
The first section of the course characterised what we were to expect for the rest of the 100 miles – technical single-track trail, gravel farm paths, fields, country roads, short sharp climbs and some longer gradual inclines, as well as steep ones too!
The weather was perfect… a cool morning with some dampness in the air and quite refreshing. I wore my Injinnji compression socks, lycra half length shorts and a simple technical t-shirt and had two handheld water bottles and a waist pack with all the mandatory equipment, plus waterproofs and some energy bars. Super light was the key!
My approach to the race was to go out steady and get some miles under my belt
I felt relaxed and just went with it. The ‘memorable’ moment of the first section was when I heard a shout from behind, ‘YOU’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY’.
I looked curiously behind sure that I was on the right path. But sure enough after tracking back down I had missed a small marker post pointing left for the NDW. You had to be very eagle-eyed not to miss it!
The first checkpoint at 6.6 miles was a brief affair
I didn’t need to refill my handheld water bottles or grab any food so I ran straight through. I was feeling good and carried on to the next check point at what felt like a similar pace. And this continued for much of the first 24 miles down into Box Hill and past Denby’s vineyard.
Box Hill was the third CP and I reached it in 4:11hrs at an average pace of 10.30min per mile. Box Hill was also the first drop bag point which meant that I could tuck into some food and ‘secret supplies’, which I was hoping would fuel me through the miles ahead.
This is where I made my one big mistake in simply not packing enough variety
At the aid stations they had plenty of snack food such as Mars Bars, jelly babies, nuts, crisps, cookies and so on, but nothing substantial – nothing that would really fuel you well for 100 miles.
I had a meal replacement shake that packs in the calories and a reasonable amount of carbs and protein and grabbed a pork pie, which I ate on the way up the 280 steps that ascends the steepest part of Box Hill. The combination of climbing and eating was not ideal, but at this stage I just needed calories however, difficult it was to eat.
Leg 4 was an eight mile section with lots of ascent and descent
This made the going slower. However, I could look forward to seeing my family at CP 4 which was 31.8 miles in and it was really good to get there with my folks, wife, son and daughter. But such moments are very brief.
I refilled my bottles with what was on offer – GU electrolyte brew, took some nuts and an energy gel for later and went on my way. The next section was 11 miles and I was starting to heat up now as we approached midday.
With 32 miles in my legs things were only really just beginning
I was very happy with my pacing and didn’t feel that I had pushed too hard to get where I was. But with 70-ish miles ahead, now was not the time for self congratulation.
The miles wore on as did the continuous climbing and descending. It’s all relative of course and I realise that with 11,000ft of climb over this 100 mile route it’s far from the ‘hilliest hundred’ out there but by the same token it certainly never felt flat.
The climb up to Botley Hill at 43 miles was another power hike with arms and legs used to good effect
I can’t remember much about the next section apart from a long road section past the biggest houses you’ve ever seen.
I longed to get to the half-way mark and hopefully eat something ‘proper’. On hitting 50 miles, I got some hot tea which was great and drunk half a cup of what was supposed to be chicken soup. I had another meal replacement shake, a banana from my bag and was off.
My time at the half-way point was 9:40hrs which equated to an average pace of 11.30min per mile.
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