There's been some really exciting things occurring this year for sure. More about this in March, however I'm honoured to have been asked by both INOV8 and TORQ this year to support their brands and be part of their trail running teams. It's an easy answer when you believe in the products and kit that you are using and then are welcomed on board to become more involved. I'm so excited.

Otherwise, it's been a little quiet since the New Year, yet I managed to sneak a cheeky little ultra race in yesterday, The Millennium Way Ultra

The Way for the Millennium is a nation trail that was setup 14 years ago to celebrate the millennium. It's a pretty flat course and the event organiser Richard Weremiuk from Beyond Marathon Events, describes it as (only) a 'miserable 220 metres of climbing on the whole course' and he suggests that it's 'practically downhill'. You can see why!

millennium way

The route follows old train lines, waterways and field land. It's all trail.
Trent Canal

The route:

Begins on the Shropshire border just outside the village of Outwoods. It then head towards the town of Stafford and joins the River Trent and the Trent Mersey Canal, you travel on to the river through Colwich. It's then along the river into Rugely, before heading over fields for the next 8 miles or so before rejoining the Trent and Mersey Canal for the last 7 miles into Burton upon Trent to finish in Shobnall. 

The race:
I entered this race on a whim at the eleventh hour. I haven't been training for this type of race and hadn't rested beforehand, so whilst I always have a competitive head on, I'd no bright ideas about fairing too well and took the view that I was happy to have the new experience of running on a flat course over this distance. It certainly was a new experience to have constant cadence for 38 miles, however it's fair to say that the field section in the middle whilst was heavy and slow going, did provide some respite because of the change in terrain. The fields were incredibly muddy and so it was a mudfest of churned up sinking mud through fields for a chunk of time and this was a challenge in itself. All things considered it's certainly the course for a trail shoe rather than a less technical running shoe. I wore Xtalons, light with fairly grippy lugs to get me through the mud. 

The pack:
In terms of the race, there were a few familiar faces in the front running pack, Robbin Carter (later on) and Billy barefoot Craig (early doors). As the field settled into its positioning it was, for the first half,  pretty much consistent with Lee Knight, Billy and Damo Taylor playing yoyo with one another. 

Billy, Damo, Lee

Lee was probably the most consistent, he positioned himself at the front and pretty much stayed there. Billy had gone out fast which was evidenced by the latter half of the race when his wheels fell off more that he'd have liked. Robin had moved from the chasing group, (I say group, it was a wonderful man called Robert Kerr, Robin and myself) and joined the chaps up front pretty early on. 

Robin Carter, myself, Robbie Kerr, Matthew Knight the early chasing group
The front group towards the latter half of the race ended up being Lee Knight and Robin Carter. They were always in sight however once back on the canal towpath for the last 8 miles or so, they pulled away to gain their respective leads. Lee managed a 4 mins gap from Robin and Robin a 6 mins lead on me. As alluded to early, Robbie Kerr was a chap that was running pretty much in pace with myself and so throughout the race we found ourselves together. Sometimes words don't need to be said! We pretty quickly got in tune with one another and pushed and pulled each other through. I owe my life to this man, saved, from killer cows (yet again), he flapped his arms whilst I dive bombed to the style (as usual). Good luck in MDS this year Robbie, you're an awesome runner and very much the gentleman, who at the end of the race stepped back to allow me to dib in first. We were both a joint 3rd in reality.

The fuelling strategy was pretty straight forward and I'm pleased that I have found a formula that works well for me, it mostly involves TORQ gels every 30-40 mins. I managed the timing perfectly and didn't get depleted at all. The biggest problem during the race was the dealing with the soreness from the constant cadence of my running stride. The last 8 miles on the canal tow path were brutal. I'm simply not used to it and for sure my pace slowed to reflect the uncomfortableness that I was experiencing. This is the learning for me this time, and will be food for thought in the future....talking of food, where's my dinner?

MWU - 38.5 miles / 61.9km

Ist lady 5 hrs 22mins
3rd Overall

Thanks to runner friend Forest Bethell who came along to support the runners and crewed for me along the way. Great to see you out there doing bits of running yesterday Forest. Thanks to John Danahay for peservering with me (constantly). Thanks to my beautiful sister for being on the finish line.