On the 21st July the OMM Intro Ultra and Mammut Ultra tour of the Peak District ultra races were held in the Peak District. Both courses set out across the national park in good weather. Perhaps too good?
When planning races one thing that competitors and organisers alike hope for is good weather. No matter how much training or logistical organisation goes on beforehand, we all have to cope with whatever the weather gods have in store for us on race day. So the weather can never be too good – can it?
The hundred and twenty or so runners who set off to tackle the Mammut Ultra and OMM Intro Ultra Tours of the Peak District on Saturday might say otherwise. With 60 and 30 miles of beautiful but hilly terrain to cover in scorching temperatures runners could be forgiven for wishing that the British Summer would revert to type.
Despite the numerous well stocked water supplies and feed stations on the routes, there was little shade and no respite from the sapping heat. Inevitably some runners succumbed and almost a fifth of the Ultra race competitors retired.
Mammut Ultra Tour of the Peak District
However there were several success stories; Edward Catmur took an early lead in the Ultra and maintained this throughout the race completing the 60 miles in 10hrs 37mins. Equally impressive was first female Zoe Salt who also took 2nd place overall in 11.21. The last runners crossed the finish line at around 5am, over 20 hours after they had begun! Good effort!
The Intro Ultra (merely 30 miles) was won by Mike Sprot in 5 hrs 22 mins with the female race going to Pat Goodall, an over 50 Veteran runner, who arrived back in 6.35. It was Sprot’s first Ultra distance race and after he had recovered he reflected on his decision to undertake the challenge:
I’d fancied having a go at an ‘Ultra’ for a while, and as I was looking through the Peak District fell running fixture list the Dig Deep Intro Ultra jumped out at me. Near home, and in familiar terrain, it seemed an ideal starter.
The race was tough, a lot tougher than I’d expected and prepared myself for, with the weather in particular having a big impact. It ended up being one of the hardest things I’ve done – and I was certainly feeling the pain at the end!
But I enjoyed myself. The organisation was great, and all the marshals were helpful, supportive and cheerful which really made a difference when the going got tough towards the end.
So how did those successful finishers deal with the conditions?
All runners were advised to carry liquids and chose a range of hydration systems; hand held water bottles, bumbags with bottle holders and bladders with hoses. Most effective seemed to be water bottles as these could be refilled easily at the water stations. The actual type of liquid taken on board was also important with electrolyte replacement drinks being an effective way of replacing minerals lost due to sweating. (although not as pleasant to tip over your head to cool down!) Sunscreen was an absolute must, and don’t neglect your calves as one runner found to his cost.
As the exhausted runners trudged in to the finish into the small hours many vowed never to attempt anything like it again. But they say that pain is only temporary and by prize giving the next afternoon for some at least the question was not if, but whether to do 30 or 60 miles next year.
So fantastic achievements all round, a lovely crowd of friendly runners, beautiful countryside and a well-organised event. Just a shame about the weather!
- www.fellrunner.org.uk: Fell Runners Association (info on races, running clubs, results)
- www.fellrunningguide.co.uk: Fell Running Guide (guided running, training, introductory courses, navigation skills)
- Outside: (specialist shop and sponsor of Peak District Fell races)