Hills Ultra 54
Malvern Hills Ultra 54:
Due to flooding along the River Severn the original course had to be revised and some bright spark came up with the suggestion that it could be an out and back - out to the Malvern Hills, run along them, and run back again. Thus the flat 15 miles along the river was cut out entirely. We set off in good weather at 7:30 from Holt Castle down near Worcester. We had the route on OS maps and we had written instructions which had been hurriedly reversed for the outward stage. I got to chatting with a friend Liz and another girl Ellie and before too long we had formed a triumvirate sharing the decisions of which way to go. It was a superb course and the weather was near perfect. There was enough sun to make the views fabulous without any worries about sun burn. Check points were well stocked with lots of cake and sandwich making equipment so it was easy to keep energy levels up. Occasionally we had to find unmanned "punch points" to prove that we hadn't gone around a hill top or taken a short cut and as is sadly so often the case nowadays some cretin saw fit to remove one of them. Approaching the turn around point I was really enjoying being up in the hills - so much so that I ran up another peak to take in the view again. Sanity returned after the turn around though.
We had enjoyed running down a lot of hills on the way and now we had to go up them instead. Of course this works both ways and we would be running down those that we had cursed earlier. The toughest part of the course for me was after we had left the main hills. We were following the Worcestershire Way and it was pretty consistently up and down. Despite the food at the checkpoints we hit a bit of an energy low which had us tucking into the food we were carrying. Liz was feeling nauseous so we stopped briefly at a pub for coke and crisps. I managed to take out two of the (empty) glasses with my rucksack but everyone was too engrossed with the football to notice. The last checkpoint was a welcome sight - just 7.5 miles left and mostly on road. Chatting to them we discovered that one of the ladies was the organisers mum and the other was his aunt - who else would you ask to stay out in a gazebo all night? Bearing in mind there was an 80 mile option we were by no means the last people through. I suspect we'd met his dad at the previous checkpoint.
Moving on we had to get the head torches out for the last bit. We'd left the Worcester Way by now so navigation was back to map reading. There was a nice run through a wood but in our tired state we came out of the wood too soon and while the compass said we were going pretty much the right way we knew we were off the route. We should have gone back but we pressed on across fields to join the road which kept getting further away and by the time we reached it I knew wasn't the right road.
Thankfully I did know which road it was and we only added a mile but it was a mile we could have done without! Navigating with a map in the dark is not the same as in the day so I was pleased when I got the next footpath section spot on. We finally got back at about 11pm. Hot soup, pasta and chilli, then a shower in a ridiculously large bathroom in the Castle before driving home and falling into bed at 3:30.
The unofficial result is 55.5 miles in 15 hours 27 minutes. A huge medal, a T shirt and a bad case of DOMS
Race Results :