Last Saturday I headed up north to Retford for the Waterway 30, an almost 32 mile ultra run by
Ronnie Staton of HOBO Pace events. My target races for the year are canal – based, so what
better to get myself in that mindset than to start the year with a canal and a river?! 144 runners
gathered in the freezing cold and biting wind on race morning, anticipating the race (and weather
forecast!) ahead. The route started out by following the Cuckoo Way along tracks and across some
fields and orchards, then onto the Chesterfield Canal towpath, where we stayed until the halfway
point at 15 miles…..rain holding off, easy running underfoot and wind behind us.
After CP2 at roughly halfway the route took us off the canal towpath and onto the bank of the
River Trent for the return leg where it proved to be a day of two halves weather – wise too!! Right
on cue the wind whipped up into a strong headwind and brought with it cold, torrential rain as the
runners battled across the lumpy grass of the unrelentingly exposed riverbank for mile after mile;
still there’s no such thing as bad weather apparently, only unsuitable clothing!! It certainly sapped
your energy though.
The last CP was around the 26 mile point, by which time it was a real relief to leave the river bank
(and it’s stiles!!) and turn for the finish along some tracks, bridleways and minor roads with a good
section of deep mud thrown in. The weather even cleared up too!
Once back at the finish and into the warm village hall there was a lovely cup of homemade soup
and a roll waiting, plus a vest and medal.
I came in 37th overall and 7th female which wasn’t too bad a day out.
I’d recommend the Waterway 30 for the flawless organisation and great friendly atmosphere. It
would also make a great “starter” ultra as it’s well marshalled and marked (rather than being self
navigated and you also have the confidence for most of the race of knowing which side of you the
water should be on), mostly flat – about 850ft total ascent, has frequent CPs and very generous
indeed cut offs. For anyone who is vegetarian or vegan all food provided is also vegan – friendly
and the event is a cupless one too.