40 Mile Ultra

Race Report by Claire Newman

It has taken me a while to write this. Initially I was too tired, then I was too busy, then I thought maybe there was no point as it was weeks ago.

So, I didn’t get very lucky with the weather for my ultra. It pretty much hammered it down for the week before, which meant I had to re-route a lot of it last minute as many fields were completely flooded, so I included in the new route an opportunity to pass through my village twice so I could do a full kit change and get a warm drink.

I set off in the pissing rain at about 7am as soon as it got light enough to go out without a torch, the first part was a 10kish loop that would bring me back to the village so I didn’t need to take anything with me. This was the heaviest of the rain, I was utterly soaked through within seconds, but towards the end of the hour the rain eased to a steady drizzle. I got home, changed all my whole kit and was off again. Putting leggings on freezing cold, and damp legs is really difficult and not very sexy!

The first part of the lap took me along a patch of canal path that was basically falling into the canal itself. There was no chance of going anything faster than a shuffle along here and at several points I had to cling to a bush to stop toppeling in. Once it opened out a bit it was fine and I managed to find a pace I could stick with. Once off the canal I was on my first rerouted bit which was a particularly boring road section, but it was nice to not have the fear of slipping in mud for a while.

It was short lived though, as I was soon off into a freshly ploughed field going uphill. Totally draining on energy. I felt like I had most of the field stuck to me. My shoes and socks were completely soaked through. Once out of the mud I had a nicely maintained field to run through including a lovely downhill segment and past the most useless stile in Warwickshire.

I headed into Ladbroke where Lisa was waiting for me with clean socks, a coffee and some pain killers. I had rolled my ankle in the field of mud and although the ankle felt fine, the rest of my leg didn’t. After drying my feet and putting on clean socks Lisa ran with me for a bit and then waved me off promising to pop up a bit later on. This was a completely rerouted section so I was really dependent on my (new fancy) watch for navigation, the road took me alongside the fields I should have been running through, many of them completely submerged following the rain, if I hadn’t rerouted I would have been swimming part of the ulta!

I reached a flooded section of road, the water was ankle deep, there was no way around it so I just had to run through it splashing water all the way up to my knees. I went through the next village and back out onto the country roads the drizzle was still constant and I was totally wet through. Other than being wet, and a niggle in my leg I felt ok as I ran through Ufton nature reserve, across the bumpy sheep field, and through the traily woods to where Lisa was again waiting by some cute puppies with a roller for my sore leg.


While waiting for me Lisa had done a quick reroute for me as the next section was going to be a muddy nightmare, so off we went towards Bascote with the sun just starting to break through the clouds a bit. Lisa saw me off at about mile 20/21 as I joined the canal again to go back up towards my village. The canal path was a mess, and several patches not great to run on, plus most of it was uphill, so it was a bit of a slow plod back to stockton where Phil, Lisa, and my husband and kids were waiting to run me back to the house so I can do another kit change. I sat on the sofa while my daughter used a hairdryer to dry my feet off and my son fed me a banana and some coffee then set off again. This time with Phil who was joining me for the second lap.

The second loop was a bit shorter than the first to allow for a glory Polo Club finish. But there was still a good 15 wet miles to do before I could call it done. Phil and I squished along the canal and successfully avoid falling in, I didn’t need the watch so much now as could remember the way. I was beyond marathon distance by now, but felt ok still. I may have got a bit over excited about how good I still felt but the sight of the muddy field of doom soon brought me back to earth!

I think I only really started to feel a bit ropey at about mile 34, and it was Phil who noticed before me and he started feeding me cliff blocks and insisted I take one of my salt capsules. My leg didn’t really hurt so much now as I just generally hurt all over by this point! We sang our way through Ufton woods (Eye of the Tiger) and were met at the exit by Lisa who was joining us for the glory finish. We aimed at the iconic polo club bull and ran at it. I even managed to pick up a bit of speed! Of course we had misjudged it, and I had to lap the bull a few times to round it up to 40 miles but it was done! Ultra Claire!

Toby had brought the kids to see me at the end so after some hugs I waved them off and headed to the pub with Lisa and Phil for the all important post-run beer and pizza!

Wouldn’t have been able to do it without crew support from Lisa, Toby and the kids, and the company of Phil for the last, and hardest 15 miles. It also really helped know there were people leaving me messages of support on social media, the messages were being passed to me, and I was grateful for each one. Thank you.

Bring on the next one (but with less mud!)