MHU 2012 Race Report
We were quietly optimistic leading up to May 5th that the 2012 MHU would be a good weather occasion, this following the previous two years of rain and wind – surely the law of averages would prevail.
Last year we had absolutely no rain for six weeks until the eve of the race, when thunderstorms, lightning and winds were rattling competitor’s tents. This year though the rain had come two weeks before, all that wet stuff should be well gone by the 5th!
One week to go and it was still pouring down with rain.
Lincombe Lock was knee high in river water and an early investigation of the route seemed sensible. As we started to re-organise sections of the route affected by flooding, so it worsened by the hour and it became clear the entire Severn Way route wasn’t going to be possible for the race. With flood waters expected to peak on the 2nd May, alternative plans were required.
Great thanks to West Mercia Police who pulled out all the stops to confirm alternative route proposals, in very little time. But this all became incidental when Darryl Carter shared his idea of an ‘in and out’ using the back end of the route which was unaffected by flooding.
The simplicity of this solution has proved a winner, creating a course which is scenic, challenging and rewarding. Overall consensus from finishers is that this new route is the preferred route and it will now stay as the official MHU route.
The old route will have some revision but will be introduced as a second event later in the year, as The Malvern Hills Express.
Putting aside the week’s tribulations, our optimistic weather forecast proved right. We had sunshine – it was a little chilly – but we had sunshine!
After registrations and a safety brief, ninety runners gathered around the start line in anticipation for the siren to commence the third Malvern Hills Ultra.
Darryl Carter and Sue Sleath were back to try to defend their titles of 2011, and Bruce Moore, the 2010 champion, had arrived unexpectedly the night before to sign up for the 85 mile race (totally unaware that the race route had been modified).
At CP1, The Crown at Martley, Darryl Carter was first to arrive in 55 min; comparing distance to terrain against last year’s CP1, this was very fast. But within a minute both Kevin McMillan and James Ogilvie arrived, so the race was on. Any mistake with direction or a missed Punch-Point could cost these guys the race. Sue Sleath was through CP1 as first lady; leading Gemma Carter by 6 minutes.
For the 85 mile race Bruce Moore arrived at CP1 first in 59min, followed by Adam Anstey in 1hr 11min. Lyndsey Stewart, the only 85 mile lady competitor was safely through in 1hr 43min.
The New Inn was CP2; Darryl had extended his lead to seven minutes, but Kevin and James were still locked.
Sue had sustained an injury and pulled out; Gemma Carter had now taken the lead, opening up a 16 minute gap to the chasing Louise Staples.
Darryl, James and Gemma who had entered as Team Powerbar, were now looking red-hot favourites for the Team Trophy, even more so as Team Tuwawi had lost Rod Reynolds, forced to retire as he was carrying an injury, leaving just Galen Reynolds and Nicoco Saunders.
Team Relay Runners ‘The Lean Green Running Machines’ from Malvern Joggers were doing very well and leading the race, but their decision to start their next leg runner ten minutes before the arrival of the previous runner made automatic elimination unavoidable. This left ‘The College Express’ team and the ‘The Malvern Strollers’ team in an unlikely battle for the relay title.
The Malvern Hills Hotel is CP3. It is here that the 52 mile runners turn around and head back to The New Inn and their journey back to the finish. The 85 milers continue on to The Swan at Staunton.
Darryl was continuing to extend his lead, but Kevin and James arrived at the same time, locked for second place. Louise Staples was now showing some intent and came in just a minute behind Gemma Carter.
The 85 mile leader, Bruce, was now 23min ahead of the pack and Lyndsey was safely through.
By the time Bruce started his return journey from The Swan, CP4, he had a lead of 36 minutes. Unfortunately Lyndsey had to retire, leaving the 85 mile race without a lady competitor. On reaching The Malvern Hills Hotel for the second time Bruce had established a 74 minute lead, with Adam Anstey digging deep with a foot injury – his support crew using spray to help him continue. Adam had a personal goal driving him forward, raising money for Row2recovery; the foot injury wasn’t stopping him achieve that!
With the 52 miler’s reaching their final CP station back at Martley, Darryl looked invincible with a 38 minute lead and Kevin had finally managed to open a gap of 8 minutes from James. Gemma was 5 minutes ahead of Louise and all was set for an exciting last leg.
The 85 mile race continued at this point to Heightington Village Hall, and with Paul Jeans retiring at this point, only four people were left in the race, Bruce Moore, Adam Anstey, Fred Kealing and Simon McIntosh.
In an amazing time of 7hr 49min Darryl Carter retained his champion’s status. Kevin McMillan came in with an impressive 8hrs 24 min with James Ogilvie at 8hrs 35min.
Louise Staples perseverance paid off arriving just three minutes ahead of Gemma Carter to become Ladies Champion.
Gemma’s arrival also confirmed the winning team as Team Powerbar.
Team ‘The Lean Green Running Machine’ arrived home. They had been a credit to the ‘relay spirit’, with just one error at CP2.
At the start of the race they were all there to support and at the end, all the team members ran in together. It was a great sight, but not one we are used to, having lots of screaming women running at you all in one go.
Jude Dayne achieved the ladies Veteran Champion Trophy with a time of 12 hours 38 minutes, and our first barefoot winner, Ian Wilson, came in at 17 hours and 8 minutes.
The four remaining 85 mile racers were digging deep and getting more spaced out, with Bruce finally arriving at Holt Castle to take the Champions title in 19 hours 18 minutes. Adam Anstey achieved his target with a gritty time of 23 hours and 15 minutes. Fred Kealing with a time of 24 hours and 41 minutes, and bringing up the rear, the irrepressible Mr Simon McIntosh at 28 hours 28 minutes.
The revised route proved very popular and the nice weather was warmly welcomed.
Thanks to our sponsors 9Bar, over 170 bars were consumed. Thanks also to The Crown at Martley, The New Inn, The Malvern Hills Hotel, The Swan, Heightington Village Hall, and Holt Castle for CP locations. More thanks to the CP staff who worked unsavoury hours to ensure all competitors were accounted for, fed and watered, and the injured ferried back to the finish.
It was such an exciting race we can’t wait until next year!