This weekend saw the running of the Viking 100 Mile Endurance Run and Challenge Events in
Reculver, Kent. Essentially the events were held on a looped 6.25 mile course and consisted of a
set 100 mile race, and some timed events – running as many loops as you like within either 24
hours, 6 hours or when pacing a 100 mile competitor.
I needed to get a decent long run through the night in as build – up to the Grand Union Canal Race
in May, so I settled on 100 miles within the 24 hour event. The difference between that and the 100
mile race was an extra 35 or so quid, a finishers’ buckle (colour dependent on time taken to
complete), finishers’ shirt and an extra 8 hours in which to complete the 100 mile race. So, ever
classy, I went cheap!!
The race was held on a mixture of private farmland and cycle path. The race HQ was a large barn
and the course was an undulating mixture of two very muddy sections, some hard – packed trail,
section of cycle path and unforgiving concrete farm road. As you left HQ you ran up a short, sharp
hill and encountered the first very muddy section – on the initial few laps it was just about runnable,
but hundreds of pairs of feet trampling through twice per loop plus the arrival of yet more rain
turned it into a quagmire than was tough to make any progress in, sapped the energy from your
legs and chipped alarmingly away at your average pace…very alarmingly. After the quagmire
came some concrete farm road and cycle path which followed the very busy A299 for a while.
When I say followed I mean separated from by a distance of 2 – 3 metres in some places without a
crash barrier and with the littering of vehicle bumpers, wing mirrors and other crash debris in some
areas making sure you didn’t hang around in those spots for long!!! After that the route crossed the
A299 via a bridge, there was the second muddy part of the course and then a loop on concrete
farm road up a hill, through a farmyard , around some fields (alongside the A299 again but not
quite within striking distance this time!!) and then back to the A299 crossing and retracing the
outward route back to HQ. And that was that – again and again and…well, you get the idea!!
I set out well, nice and steadily, and felt good and strong throughout both physically and mentally
although started to pay the price of the slog through the mud after a few hours – but so did
everyone else. The night came as a relief as it always does – everyone quietens down, there are
fewer people out on the course and you can retreat to just the circle of light created by your head
torch which brings a certain peace. Two other things also brought great morale boosts – the A299
also quietened right down so the constant noise abated and the taste of vehicle fumes was less
noticeable and secondly the course was diverted to avoid the long, very muddy section. Ordinarily I
enjoy a good muddy run – but wearing shoes aggressive enough for the mud would have been
uncomfortable on all the concrete and wearing shoes comfortable on the concrete would have
given you no traction at all in the mud – so I was wearing a good compromise that did a fair job.
Round and round I trotted happily and comfortably, my usual “staggers” set in at some point during
the night but I expect that to happen now and just dealt with it – there’s nothing else I can do. In the
wee small hours the rain returned with determination and the second muddy section started to
become more un runnable. After a heavy fall I made my mind up to finish the run at 100 miles
rather than to run any further which I had been toying with – and would have done had this been a
target race rather than a training run for a target race. Having missed out on the GUCR through
injury in 2017 due to “potholegate” (an unfortunate encounter with a pothole this time last year,
damaging a peroneal tendon) I was very keen to avoid a repeat performance.
So in I ran, back to race HQ with my 100 miles completed in 21 hours and 28 minutes. Not too bad
a time considering the conditions and it felt like a nice, solid run. It placed me first overall (results
attached http://www.saxon-shore.com/results/viking_100.html ) in the 24 hour challenge and
the fastest lady over 100 miles (fifth fastest time overall) when looking at the 100 mile set distance
race as well.