Miles 23-35

On Sunday I ran the Shires and Spires 35m trail race from Lamport Hall.  I recapped miles 1-23 (in some fashion!) yesterday and hope to get the rest recapped today…

A mile up the road from checkpoint four I turned into a field and headed over towards the golf course.  It was here that the guy just in-front of me slowed and was getting confused as to which path to take.  I was still feeling strong so I motioned straight on with my arms and picked up my pace a little so that I was within shouting distance.  He waited until I was near and then followed me up the track to make sure he was headed the right way.  Having run the course several times I felt thoroughly confident with the navigation element and realised at this point that I hadn’t even packed the map into my bag!

I enjoy the second half of the course almost as much as the first.  There are lots of lovely downhills.  Yes, there are steep uphills to balance things out but, – in an ultra, you’re expected to walk those…so we did!

Having not run the second half of the course since the race in 2014, I found as I passed certain points, certain memories came back to me – the part where I sat down by the stile because I was feeling rather weak, the place where my legs ached so much I wasn’t sure they would climb the hill at all…I knew I was doing much better this time round.

I could hear the crew on the checkpoint before we turned the bend and they ever came into sight.  We had been walking the slight hill, but I broke into a jog as I saw four or five runners and partners from club manning the last station of the race.
Approaching checkpoint four of Shires and SpiresThe first comment I got as I dibbed my chip into the timer was about how much better I looked compared to the previous year.  At this checkpoint the previous year, one of the marshals had wanted to pull me off the course I had later discovered.  I felt a million times better this year, and knew that even if I was running 15 minute miles for the remaining 10k I would be going home with a new PB that day.

I passed my water bottle over to one of the marshals to undo whilst I got my nuun tablets from my bag.  My fingers were sweaty, so rather than pull one out to place into the water I made the mistake of gently tapping the tube against the edge of the bottle.  All three remaining tablets fell out in quick succession and my water quickly turned luminous yellow!  “Is this going to kill me?!”  Apparently it wasn’t, so I rather dubiously took my bottle back and loaded myself back up ready for the final 10k.

Approaching checkpoint four of Shires and SpiresMark, the guy I had been running with was now on the ground getting a leg massage.  As soon as he realised that I was ready to head off, he jumped up though!  I had planned on waiting for him by this point anyway.  There was just one monster of a hill left to conquer (and then a few smaller ones to climb) before the finish.  We passed the pub at mile 31 where last year Kev had dived in for a fag and a Guinness.  After that point on the course I always think we are on the home straight.  You take two roads through the village and then are on trail for the rest of the way until you get to the finish.

There was some sort of village fete going on as we headed through – there were cars everywhere.  A topless guy was stood on the side of the road by the footpath sign and as we approached, exclaimed how glad he was to see us.  That he had not wanted to go wrong, and that he had been really struggling.  So our little gang of two became three and Russell joined on behind.

The Shires and Spires course is a nice big, circular loop around the local area, starting and finishing on a large hill.  We could soon see the Hall on the horizon and this gave the boys a burst of speed.  Although Russell was now running for the majority of the time again, he was struggling much more than Mark or I so he asked for directions to the finish.  I gave him brief directions and he chugged along slightly behind us as we turned into the final field.

One last hill along the road.  Not sure how but I still had the energy to run that last hill.  I knew I was so close to a time starting in a 7:3X:XX.  We jogged along the flat part of the road before turning into the hall grounds and hearing the cheers of WDAC clubmates by the finishline.  I looked at Mark and said “Fancy a sprint to the finish?” “Sure, when did you want to go?” “Errr…Now?!” And we picked the pace right up before we even hit the grass field.

Shires and Spires 35m trail race finishThe grin on my face is at all of the club support just off to the right of the photo.

Shires and Spires 35m trail race finishAs a club, we do get the supporting of other runners right!

My legs felt good.  I sat down and had a chat with the group that had been running just in front of me the whole way – they had come in just twelve minutes before.  We sat and chatted and picnicked whilst waiting for the rest of the runners to come over the line.

Go Beyond Shires and Spires 35m race medalAt the Go Beyond races, you get a technical race t-shirt, a medal, your finish photo emailed to you the following day and instant chip timing results handed to you as you cross the line.

Go Beyond Shires and Spires 35m race chip timing


2013 2014 2015
 CP 1
 47:00  49:09  43:49
 CP 2
 1:47:00  1:45:50  1:36:10
 CP 3
 3:20:00  3:41:22  3:13:54
 CP 4
 5:04:00  5:27:12  4:49:28
 CP 5
 6:29:00  7:04:31  6:12:39
 7:56:52  8:40:22  7:40:35

I filmed all of our remaining runners coming through the finish.  This included 76 year old Alan Mills, who ran his first ultramarathon on Sunday.


Obviously, being the social club that we are, we then all invaded the local pub…

WDAC invade the pub…took over a section of their restaurant…

WDAC invade the pub


…and then proceeded to have a go at our next favourite activity…combining good food, drink and friends.

When I saw this on the menu it was obviously what I had to order…herb potatoes and green beans in a tomato sauce and topped with goat’s cheese…

Goats cheese on herb potatoes and green beans

Good weekend other than accidentally hitting the delete data button on my Garmin before it had finished uploading to my computer.  :(  #technologyfail …the second of the day, as I had already managed to take over 100 photos of the sky during my run.

Photo taking fail

Who is the oldest person you know that still runs?
Have you ever accidentally removed the data from your watch before uploading?
 I was really annoyed with myself but at least I still have my step data!

Step count for Shires and Spires