Although exhausting I found the whole event was just fabulous.
The course was great. It was lovely running the first two stages along the banks of the River Severn. Going through Upton with Saturday morning shoppers and the Jazz Festival Crowds gave a bit of a buzz (but not so busy as to cause any problems). Road stretch to the Malvern Hills was lovely and quiet with traffic to contend with.
Hit the ‘up’ of the Malvern Hills just at the point where normal stamina is starting to run out (approaching normal marathon distance) and that is where it got challenging. You couldn’t though wish for a better experience or more glorious route of going along the ridge of the Malvern Hills all the way to the Beacon – it is a fantastic experience with great views (the inscription on the top of the Beacon ‘the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’ certainly sums up what you can see from the top – prompted me to have a bit of a sit down and take it all in despite it being a ‘race’).
Coming down from the Beacon and going around North Hill seemed a bit strange in terms of route? – I also got a bit lost trying to pick up the Worcestershire Way once off the Malvern Hills. Once on the Worcestershire Way though the route was very well signed and a real delight (and just challenging enough but not so severe as to take away from the joy of going through some lovely countryside and woods).
Then you got to Ankerdine Hill – I defy anyone to run up that! Once at the top though there was a sense that the worst was behind you and it was down hill into Martley.
Last stretch was almost flat in comparison and a good mix of quiet lanes and woodland walks to the finish.
I had my own food and had been fixated on the idea of a McDonalds as a reward for finishing so didn’t really eat much of the food on offer. All looked very good. I was though so very impressed by the friendliness and encouragement of everyone at the Check Points. The Marshalls couldn’t have been nicer. They really made you feel better and provided a boost that helped you back on your way again. For me this encapsulated the ethos and generosity of spirit of the event was what made it such a special and positive experience.
I do hope this will not be just a one off event. It is such a great course and so well run that it deserves to become the ‘must run’ event for anyone wanting an ultra experience.