By Lee Weston, Oct 14 2019 02:46PM
00.05 am of 10th of August was the start of the Roseland August Trail (R.A.T.) running event/festival of which I was partaking in the 100km/64 mile Plague event, the longest of the 4 distances (11, 20 and 32 miles) but not the stupidest with a 24 hour Bring Out Your Dead (BOYD) event.
As with all of the MudCrew events I have taken part in it was amazingly organised and not afraid of a bit of bad weather. As other events in the south west were being cancelled like Boardmasters in Newquay, the R.A.T. was not to be delayed or cancelled with only a few well communicated logistical alterations to the event as a whole. As a result the event went ahead and as a competitor it was an amazing experience and well worth the wait from not being able to enter last year.
The evening started off wet but after registration and the customary theatrical start of the race with drums beating, green flares and some fire juggling, we under way just after midnight and only got caught in a shower at about 48/50 miles into the race. Not bad for being in the middle of a storm.
So the usual with regards to a coastal ultra MudCrew event, lots of hills (4200m), technical coastal terrain (badger holes and greasy downhill mud slides included) with a well marshalled and marked course (mostly self nav though). My first long (over 1.5 hours) night event and it was an interesting learning curve. Being up since 8 am on the Friday and setting off at midnight to finish at some point the Saturday afternoon was a bit concerning when I couldn’t get a nap in and thought I may struggle with sleep deprivation towards the end. However, this wasn’t the case but it was more the focus of running at night with very little peripheral vison allows you to get in the zone and the time flew by. Saying that it was getting a bit tedious towards the morning running a large 16mile sections mostly by myself, and how easily it is to get lost, even with a Garmin route map. It did save me going further off course and a valuable lesson learnt, its worth stopping and double checking and if you’ve got a watch with a route application on it learn how to use it.
So with a great sunrise to see in Saturday morning all was going well for the first half until 32-36 miles where my stomach was not happy, even unable to eat the bacon sandwich provided at the checkpoint at 36 miles by the amazing checkpoint crew. I wanted to eat it so badly but just couldn’t stomach it. So lesson number two was to sort out hydration and electrolytes for further races. The Tailwind that I was using and recommended by so many, just isn’t for me so on to the next. Back to the banana, orange and salted peanut combo to help settle the stomach.
With the out and back course I was worried about the boredom of the return leg but seeming as I couldn’t see anything out the out leg it was great to see the landscapes on the way back.
From 40-45 miles I had to admit that I wasn’t as well conditioned as I thought I was and learnt lesson number 3, more terrain in training and increase the core work. I had to run with poles from 40 miles as my back wasn’t happy and in all honesty my legs were kind of done by mile 20.
Coming into the back 20 miles it was hot and a surprising win for the day was that I was able to keep more hydrated than in other pervious races. This meant I could stomach a post run beer and not be in a bad place. The support was also amazing with a big pub-based festival at The Ship Inn which was the location of the last checkpoint. It was great to have the 11, 20 and 32 mile competitors very supportive to the plague competitors and everyone encouraging each other regardless of their distance. We all had to complete the last 4 miles which was most possibly the hilliest 4 miles of the whole course.
Overall the race was a great event to attend with very cheap camping on site for the two nights, good food & coffee stalls open early to late with a bar and disco for those who could stay awake that long. I was in my sleeping bag by 9.30pm as I couldn’t stand on my achy legs or keep my eyes open any longer after 36 hours awake and 64 miles run. I would highly recommend this race to anyone. A key thing I’ve learnt in the last 9 months is to always review your own performance of the race breaking down into training, nutrition, hydration, kit and pacing etc. With a 14th place, 11th male finish and approx 4 hours quicker than my 100km last year I was very happy with the result and good stepping stone on to the next “main event” the Arc of Attrition 100mile winter coastal ultramarathon. There is always room to improve and I have my 3 lessons learnt from this race.