5 Jun 2016 – Northants Ultra ‘Shires and Spires’ 35

The `Northants 35` is a multi-terrain ultra starting and finishing at Lamport Hall, The Stilton ultra crew today are myself (Rob Beers), Richard Gray, Simon Bottrill and Dan Valencia.

It’s quite a cool morning with the cloud not yet burned off and we are all vested today (Although Valencia insists on his mohair base layer!), we are all in good spirits for the day ahead. 8:30am we start off and typically like many other long races its a few offroad fields that are as memorable as nothing, myself and Simon have pushed slightly ahead of Dan/Rich although it’s an easy pace. We hit the village of Cottesbrook and a bit alarmed to find the first checkpoint/feed station at a mere 4.5 miles in! 10k or 10 miles would’ve been far better. This is followed by a lot of country road towards Naseby (same route as `Battlefield Run`) which has a couple of quite `Kibworth-ish` hills, hitting historic Naseby on about 8.5 miles comes the second and far too soon checkpoint/feed station. We are doing ok, happily chatting and making observation and before we know it we are at Silsworth at 17 miles, now joined by Mr Valencia who must’ve gone some to catch up with us.

From here on there was a lot more offroad and a couple of miles later I start to move ahead of Dan/Simon, let me tell you there are some nasty climbs throughout this race, flat it never will be. The next checkpoint is Althorp Park at 25 miles and by now the sun is starting to wake up and the thought of 10 more miles seems a hell of a lot. The next few miles aren’t pretty I’m sitting in quite a big group of `fellow sufferers` and drink 3 cups of water after the climb to the final checkpoint at Teeton even taking a bottle with me. The next hill at 30 miles I’m that dehydrated and fatigued I’m forced to finally walk a bit, having lost the group ahead and not knowing which way I`m stood at the top for a couple of minutes waiting for the next person.

The last 2 and a half miles go on forever, the sun is now baking me and it’s a case of run/walk although I still manage to pass someone! Finally make it home in 5:58:02 and 16th place overall with a lovely medal and rather camp long sleeve. Over 2,600 foot of ascent and yet it felt much more! It`s not an easy ultra if anyone fancies this as dipping their toes.

The Pros: Well organised company putting the event on, wrist band usage at checkpoints, number of feed stations, very scenic and some beautiful villages, gels at every feed station, nice medal.

The Cons: Too much road – yes Northants is gorgeous but could’ve made use of the offroad more, an awful lot of navigation and we saw lots of people go wrong, how the feed stations were spaced out, yellow and purple long sleeve! Lack of marshals and signage. [Rob]

Rob Beers 5.58.02, 44th, 16th MV40
Rich Gray 6.20.16, 60th, 20th MOpen
Simon Bottrill 6.23.31, 66th, 29th MV40
Dan Valencia 6.38.18, 82nd, 36th MV40