Having experienced what it felt like to run 55 miles during the horrendous conditions that were Endure24, I've decided to repeat the distance again, and this time on more stable terrain and hopefully without an injury.
I was looking for an official race between 55 - 75 miles during the months of September/October within commuting distance. However I couldn't find one so decided make one up myself.
The route I've put together is a 90km (56 mile) run along the Kennet & Avon Canal between Bath and Newbury, although the option to extend the route is relatively easily: just keep on running along the canal towards Reading (more about that below).
I don't plan on running the event alone either. Stouty (Paul Stout) has agreed to join me on the run. He's an experienced ultra runner so it will be good to run with him. Full details have yet to be finalised, including the date and travel arrangements. However I have spent a little time mapping out the route and also marking as Waypoints the water taps along the route. These are shown in the graphic opposite (click to enlarge).
In order to use the water taps (controlled by the Canal River Trust) I need to purchase a magic key that will unlock all the taps and portable toilets along the route. I've done some investigation and I can buy one for £6.
Being an informal run means we'll be running unsupported. I'll be carrying two 800ml water bottles: one with water and one with an electrolyte. There are plenty of water taps along the route (the ones shown on the graphic are not the only ones) so water won't be an issue. I just need to think about what I'll be eating, as this will need to be picked up en route. Initial thoughts are small nibbles along the way then get something a little more substantial at the half way point, which it turns out is Devizes. Grabbing a sandwich and other snacks there is probably the wisest choice. I don't want to be running/carrying too much weight.
I'm really not sure how long this run will take, although the first 25 miles of Endure gave me a reasonable starter-for-ten. At Endure I planned to run 1hr laps with each lap being 5 miles (8km). Of course there were hills on that route; terrain was completely different; and I had to pace myself for 24 hours. One hour per 5 miles would mean completing the route in approximately 11 hours, not taking into account water stops, toilet and other breaks. When you think about it that way it seems okay but ideally I'd like to run the whole route in 11 with the inclusion of all the non-running activities. As I say above, I haven't quite planned the detail yet, but at least I now have some food for thought.
I mentioned above about extending the route. I've initially planned the route so it starts in the centre of Bath and finishes at the door of the Lock Stock pub in Newbury: 90km (56 miles) exact! However if I get to Newbury and feel I can do more then I will most certainly continue for at least another 10km to make the run 100km (a recognised ultra distance). This could be done by continuing along the canal for 5km and then looping back or by jumping onto the Bayer 10km route. If I'm really feeling good after 90km then I may just try and continue along the canal towards Reading. Not saying I will make it (that would be a total distance of 79 miles) but at least the option is there.
It will also be interesting running with someone. I tend to run on my own when it comes to ultras. Stouty measures distance in miles and I measure it in km. This could make for an interesting journey, but to be honest when it comes to ultra distance events even I resort to miles. I'll also probably break the run down into 5 mile blocks and look to try and get even splits (although I may be tempted to break it down into 10 mile blocks instead). I'll take my portable battery charger but probably won't need it. My new watch, the Suunto Ambit2, has a 16 hour battery life when the GPS is set to 1 second. Given we are running along a canal, which is pretty straight-ish, I'm tempted to set the watch to record at 5 second intervals thereby extending the battery to 25 hours.
So there we have it....my next big run in the planning. I just need to start training for it now!