So, here’s the thing about ultra marathons – just when you think you know what you’re doing, something comes along and reminds you who is boss (clue – it isn’t you…).
The Peddars Way is a 47 mile trail, from the edge of Suffolk, heading up through the whole of Norfolk to finish on the coast at Holme next the Sea. Adding a half mile at each end to get the right start and finish areas, this ultra ends up as 48 miles (if you make it all the way).
The first four hours, heading towards the half(ish) way checkpoint at Castle Acre, were very pleasant – cold, sunny at times, and solid trails helping keep the pace (relatively) good. Heavy snow at this point just added to the picturesque views as runners grabbed hot drinks and food before moving on.
Leaving Castle Acre, the trail follows an old Roman Road – on this occasion directly lined up with the headwind blowing straight down from the arctic. The snow became sleet – just enough to soak you through, whilst hitting you in the face with lumps of ice – and most runners grabbed any shelter they could to put on the extra layers of warm and waterproof clothes that organisers had rightly insisted were carried.
At the next checkpoint, with 12 or 13 miles still to race, the most exposed section still to come, and struggling to get warm even whilst running, sole Strider Rich Gray decided enough was enough. 35 and a bit miles in 6.30-ish made it a decent training run, with bigger goals on the calendar for later in the year.