I did not plan any races between UTMT in January and Ronda dels Cims in July. But this Big Boar’s Backyard Challenge sounded like something that could spice up my Ronda training. Concept is simple – nutcases assemble and run 6.7km more less flat loops. New loop starts every hour and who is not ready to start the new loop is out. The one who is the last one left out there is the winner (provided he/she completed at least 24 loops/100 miles). Everybody else DNFs .
I did not specifically train for this. It was purely part of my training. I did not even taper. The event date felt on my hard training week and I followed my usual training routine up to Wednesday (20km run). Thursday was a rest day but also a day when I developed some cold – runny nose mainly. I did not have the best sleep as a result but I still felt to be in a reasonably OK shape for Friday. My plan was to do at least 50km as a minimal training distance and after that just keep on going as long as all is well without risking any injury. I promised myself to stop if I feel anything “weird”.
I did not have any special nutrition plan. Part of my training plan is to train the body to run on “anything” – I hope to be able to rely as much as possible on CP supplies in the summer 100 miler rather than to rely on some specific products that I would have to carry with me. So I grabbed few energy bars – whatever was in the box at home, bought a pack of pretzels to have something salty and crunchy as well. I threw a fistful of raisins into a half empty box of mixed nuts (or vice versa), gave it a shake and that was my trail mix. And into the cooler box went a bottle of Coke, big bottle of Lucozade (just for a bit of sweet variety) and some left over pasta from my dinner time carbo loading :-). And that was it.
Road shoes would probably be better for the concrete surface but as I don’t have any I picked my regular trail shoes. And in any case – for a long distance better run in shoes my legs and feet are used to. I had a change of shoes and socks and 2 spare tees with me. And also a light windbreaker (that I did not use at all).
9am on Friday 15 of us started the loop 1. I thought that 6:30 – 7:00 min per km pace would be just about comfortable and provide me with some nice rest time before the next loop. It actually felt very slow on the loop one . But although the pace was slow and comfortable I was sweating a lot. It was warm, stuffy and very humid as we were in the low cloud… I finished the loop after about 44 mins. Enough time to rest, have a little food and drinks (as I did not carry anything with me on the loop) and ready for loop 2 at 10am.
10am was a proper case of deja vu… Everything was the same And off we went for loop 2. For me it was a carbon copy of the loop 1. Still stuffy and humid, same pace, more less 44 mins.
11am deja vu again. Everybody still smiling, same people assembled at the start. Off we went. On this loop the weather improved a bit. The clouds were no longer low and we had a bit of reprieve from the humidity. Another 44-45min loop but this time with significantly less effort than the first two loops. This was beginning to look like fun day ahead.
Then the things started to get interesting.
A large colourful lizard appeared in one of the soon to be waterfalls somewhere near the Stubbs Road end of the Bowen Road. And we saw it there when passed that place twice there and twice back.
I lost the track of loops but I recall making a bet with myself on what loop the rain will arrive. It was either between the loops 4-5 or 5-6 when the first quick shower hit us. But by the time we started the loop it was over. That favourable weather did not last for much longer though. By the time we finished the loop 7 it was a proper downpour that lasted for several more hours with occasional sound of thunder livening things up…
I was still running the loops at more less the same pace – 43-45 mins per lap. The rain itself was fine but the ever present noise was driving me mad. There was no escaping it. The whole route was lined with noisy waterfalls and there was another one right behind our resting area at the start/finish.
Running in everything wet is also fun only for a while before it gets a bit annoying. I had dry pair of shoes and socks but there was no point changing while the rain was still on. And the same applied to the tee. But at least my tee was still pretty comfortable even if wet once I squeezed out all the excess rain water while waiting for the new loops.
This all was happening while I kept adding up the loops. It was getting harder to get going after the breaks, thanks to muscles getting cold fast thanks to all that water. But after few minutes I always managed to get back to my rhythm and that 43-45 min lap pace. I was arriving to the finish feeling better than leaving it.
I think it was on loop 11 when at the later stages I started to feel some signs of possible cramps in my calves. Lucky I was close to the end of the loop. I finished the loop without cramping still at my usual pace. The following break seemed to solve the issue.
Then I believe before loop 12 the rain stopped (although some light drizzle was there to stay, on and off…). It finally made sense to change to dry tee. With shoes I did not bother though… Perhaps I should. When I was almost at the end of the loop with the finish in sight I felt some weird pain from somewhere under my left ankle. This was exactly the kind of “feeling something weird” I had in mind before this challenge. I was already way above my 50-60km target so I started to contemplate stopping.
I was still at the start of loop 13 but I told myself that I would stop if that ankle still bothers me. It did for maybe the first 100 meters of the loop but then the soreness went away. So I kept on going. But I decided that I would stop after loop 15 – 100 km seemed like the right distance to bow out.
I enjoyed the final 3 loops knowing that these are the last 3 for me. And especially the last one. I pushed a bit more on the final couple of km. After arriving back to finish first I made a bow, stopped my watch and asked Steve for my DNF tee
I was still feeling good for more loops but with Ronda in mind I knew that calling it a day after 100km is the right and sensible decision. I finished injury free (not counting a small bruise under the ankle and couple of bloody toe nails – all result of running in wet socks and shoes for hours). I had a great workout, tried something new, challenging in a very different way than the mountain trail races. Plus it was a great day spent in a great company of other nutters. What else can one wish for for a fine rainy Easter Friday
Maybe next year I will come back with 100miles + target .