On Sunday morning I joined numerous other hardy souls who had braved the threat of severe weather warnings and turned up to run/walk the Coventry Way, a 40 mile circuit around Coventry's surrounding Green belt. To be completely honest, I hadn't held out too much hope for the scenery - I admit that I had a preconceived view of Coventry as an urban nightmare of a place, but I am happy to say that I was completely wrong and found myslef running through some impressive and typically English countryside.
Walkers started the race at 6am in order to get round in the light but runners were encouraged to start later to allow for checkpoint opening. Being allowed to start at whatever time you chose really helped my nerves as I was able to set off in my own time, avoiding the usual pre-race tensions!
I ran the race with Paul Tranter and we set off at 7.20 am. Navigation for the race was covered by a 35 page mini-booklet with very detailed maps and the whole route was really well waymarked.
The miles slipped past quite easily and despite the weather, the terrail on the first sections was remarkably good. At this point we were thinking of somewhere around the seven hour mark.
This target became unrealistic soon enough however, as the terrain changed through mud, clay, slurry and other delights and slowed us right down. At about 24 miles the conditions were very poor and both of us began to tire after this point. by 30 miles I was shattered and the pace had dropped considerably. Paul had a bit more in his legs but waited for me (thanks!) and we plodded on together for the last 8 miles finally arriving in 8 hrs 8 mins. The winner ran the race in well under 7 hours which was impressive in those conditions.
Overall there were some positives and some negatives (aren;t there always?!).
Positives: Finished a 40m race (1st ultra of 'the season')
Had something left in terms of energy at the end.
Navigated the whole course without serious error!
Recovery seems to be quick!
Negatives: Really sore tired legs (poor conditions and 1st long run of season)
Still found it hard to eat anything substantial although this mattered less as it was only 8 hours. Will still be potential issue on longer races however.
Overall I really enjoyed it. Thankyou to the organisers who did a fantastic job on the day and I understand do a brilliant job for various charities. I will almost certainly be back next year to beat my time.
Refuelling at one of the well organised checkpoints