Big Way Around in Winchester was a new event, by a totally new company called Big Feat Events. 4 distances of 14 mile, 19 mile, marathon and 50km ultra, of which I did the ultra and it was my first race since Feb 2020 and my first in a Corsham vest as a recent new member!
The course, 3000ft elevation, was really quite beautiful taking in parts of the South Downs way, various landmarks around Winchester and took us through a variety of terrain, everything from a bit of tarmac, to hard packed and very runnable trails, to technical woodland sections and even the town centre (which was a bit mental trying to dodge shoppers on the high street at midday on a bank holiday and run through busy car parks in the final mile or two… bit weird that was!). Like any new race and new company, there were a myriad of teething issues, mostly the poor GPX file that was provided (nothing close to being like the actual course) and many people got lost particularly in the 2nd half of the race (I heard many issues with the marathon route especially, some folk doing 25 miles and others doing 28!). I even got sent about 0.8 mile the wrong direction by a young marshal meaning the 2nd place runner caught up with me… That being said and looking back now, I don’t really care as it was just so good to back in a real race and I would do this event again as I am sure they’ve learned some valuable lessons and the course was just so nice!
I didn’t have much expectations as it was the first race back in so long. My training had been really good (set two solo Time Trial PB’s at 5km (17:29) and half marathon (1:19:38) in the run up) and I appear to have (finally) fully recovered from a year long battle with Achilles issues so I set myself a target of 50km in under 4 hours. I started off strong pushing out 7-8 min mile pace in the early miles and soon found myself way out ahead of other runners for large parts of the race! I started thinking I’d gone out way too hard, but despite insane muscle twitches in the last 5 miles (I messed up my race day fuelling plan… muppet!), I managed to keep pace to the end and went through 50km in 3:59, bang on target, and crossed the finish line in 2nd place, just a few minutes behind a Team England ultra runner. Due to the extra 0.8 mile I finished in 4:06. It was quite the surprise to mixing it up amongst some very high level runners and it’s given me confidence going into future races, especially as I know I’ve got plenty of improvements to make
Still pinching myself really… I only started running at 34 years old (I’m 39 in August) after a very serious mental health battle. I decided I’d try running instead of taking the anti-depressants my GP gave me and it helped me give up cigarettes and get my noggin back in a good place. At no point did I ever expect to be running like this. Hoping I can keep improving and help CRC bring home some points in leagues 🙂
If you got this far, thanks for reading and listening to me waffle on!