Ladybower 50 mile/20 mile
Report by Sian
Another weekend and another race! I’ve really missed racing through the summer (running in the warm sunshine really doesn’t suit me so I made a conscious decision not to enter any summer races and concentrate on my Marathon training at cooler times of the day!) so it’s been good to get back to it over the past couple of weeks.
Again, this event fitted in nicely with my training plan and what better setting for a run could you get than running around the beautiful Ladybower and Derwent Reservoirs. While I initially booked this race to be my last long run ahead of York Marathon, as the day got closer I found myself getting more nervous about it! Not so much because of the distance as I knew I had that in my legs but more due to the update/instruction emails/Facebook posts we kept getting. Things like, if you can’t carry enough water to last 6-10 miles then isn’t the race for you, don’t pack like you are going on an Antarctic expedition however the weather can be very changeable, especially in exposed parts of the reservoir so please come prepared, please ensure you pack a head torch as it does get very dark very quickly. I kept having to remind myself that these instructions were more for the people attempting the 50 mile event rather than the 20 mile (although I guess that depends on what time you were thinking of completing the 20 mile race in).
It was an early start to get to the registration tent for just after 7am but that allowed us to get a free parking space…winner! You could spot the people attempting the 50 mile run very easily, they all looked very well equipped with hydration packs, gel holders and plenty of removable layers of clothing. I felt quite inadequate with my hydration belt, 4 gels and running legging and t-shirt! I was wearing a buff though which made me look slightly more the part! It was also great to catch up with fellow SRC members who were there attempting/supporting the 50 mile route.
The 50 milers set off at 8am while us 20 milers set off at 8:30am. The start line was marked by 2 bollards covered with high-viz vests (very high tech!) which led us straight onto narrow trails. The first mile or so was a bit of a tight squeeze but everyone took their time and you could feel there was no sense of rush knowing how many miles we had ahead of us. The crowd soon thinned out and before we knew it everyone had plenty of space to run.
We first did a small loop around Ladybower (which was 5 miles) followed by a big 15 mile loop around Ladybower and Derwent. The surface was a real mixture, tough little trail sections (tough because the surface was very uneven so it was difficult to get a good rhythm going) mixed with tarmac and a few “inclines” to keep it interesting! The views were absolutely breath taking. I`m ashamed to say in my 7 years living in Sheffield I have never ventured to Ladybower before but I will definitely be going back!
As it was a small event you very much needed to be self-sufficient. There was 1 water station which we passed twice and a couple of water butts dotted around for you to fill your water carriers if needed.
The support from the marshals and fellow runners was great and also from the poor unsuspecting walkers/runners/cyclists who`s day out was rudely interrupted by us! They didn’t seem to mind though and everyone we passed offered words of encouragement.
True to form the weather closed in on us a couple of times and we went from beautiful autumn sunshine to pouring rain with seconds…..twice! No complaints from me though, it was lovely and refreshing, although it did make some of the trail paths a little slippery underfoot!
20.47 miles later (yes they snuck in an extra .47 somewhere!) I arrived back at the registration tent trying to find where exactly the finish line was, looking out for someone with a stop watch. I ran past the tent only to be shouted back so my number could be taken. That was it, no fancy finish, just a brilliantly organised small event and another great t-shirt and medal for all finishers (I’ve spared you another cheesy post race selfie this time!)
I really wanted to finish sub 3:40 to see if I am on track for my sub 5 hour marathon next month. I came home in 3:38:36 so I was very happy with that considering the terrain was mixed.
I have nothing but full admiration for the guys taking on the 50 miler. I may have been inspired to take part myself in 2 years’ time! 2019 – The year of the Ultra Marathon! I`ve also heard a rumour that there will be a 35 mile option next year. Definitely something to think about!
This event would be a great introduction to Ultra Marathon running. Because the laps were 15 miles long people were using their cars as feed/water stations. When I returned to my car at the end, 2 ladies in the car parked next to me were filling up on pizza and sausage rolls before heading out for their 2nd lap!
So that’s it now, last long run done and dusted! Time to start tapering down to York Marathon on October 8th!