Fortitude Ultra - last man standing     

10th October 2020 - David Waddington

Before this race, the furthest I’d ever run was 15 miles. To finish I needed to run 4 miles every hour for 10 hours so I’d be running 40 miles in total (3 mile and 5 mile options were also available and you could drop down a level at any point in the race). As I pulled into the car park, I was full of nervous excitement.  It was a cold and damp morning so I put on my hat, set up my camping chair and headed to registration to get my bib number and timing chip – there was no backing out now!

Due to the Covid restrictions we were split into four waves and I was in the last wave to start. Watching the other runners head off made me feel even more on edge but finally at 8:45 it was my turn to go in the ‘pink’ wave.

The first lap was all about learning the course, it was certainly hilly but very pretty as we ran through woodlands and past fishing ponds. I took the advice of two of our run leaders in the club, Tim (Winkley) and Emma (Page) and walked up the big hills. During the first lap I met two runners, Bob and Martin and after a wrong turn we helped pace each other back to the base. We ran together for the first three laps before Martin was timed out.

Lap 5 was where it started to get hard, I started with Bob but as we headed into the woods and started to climb I had to drop behind to save some energy.  I got to the turning for the four mile lap and my heart said go for it but my body said go for the 3 mile lap, I had to listen to my body.

As I approached base I couldn’t help feeling a little disappointed especially as it turned out the 3 mile lap was in fact 3.6 miles long. I was surprised to see Patrick from the club who was there supporting his brother, but he sat down with me and cheered me up. I was getting about 10 minutes of rest between laps but it was getting harder to get out of the chair every time. Laps 6, 7 and 8 passed without incidence.

Lap 9 was definitely the hardest.   Fatigue and cramping had set in but I knew I had to power through as I didn’t want to drop out at the last hurdle. I finished and had 7 minutes to get myself together for the final push. Roughly half of the pink wave had DNF’d but I “flew” round the last loop with the thought that a nice cold beer was waiting for me at home!

All in all it was a great day. The course was a good challenge and the atmosphere was brilliant. I would certainly recommend giving it a go and have already signed up for the next race in March 2021 to finish the 4 mile loops.

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