This weekend’s crazy ultra challenge was the Compton Downland 40. A 40-mile, (with a 20-mile ‘fun run’ option) off-road romp across the downs near Reading.
Most people I know associate Compton with Los Angeles gangland culture – immortalised by the rap band N.W.A. in the 80’s – so the people at work were a little concerned on Friday when I said I was running a 40-mile ultra in Compton! Rest assured, the Berkshire version of Compton is more Midsomer Murders than South Central LA – though I’m not sure that’s any less risky. Fortunately, none of us were poisoned, garrotted or burnt in a pagan wicker man – or at least, none that I know of!
On arrival at the race HQ I met up with a few Islwyn runners that I know and three of us set off together. The next 7.5 hours flew by, we chatted, swore a lot, walked up a few hills, ran down a few, ate more Ritz crackers and Jaffa Cakes than is good for you and generally enjoyed each others company.
No-one was trying to go fast, Sean is training for Comrades in South Africa – so like me, has had been putting in the miles. Both of us have done multiple marathon+ distance runs over the last few weeks so were on tired legs before we started. It was however, a great day out!
During the race we hatched a plan to look into staging an ultra event on the Brecon to Monmouth Canal – possibly a 50-miler point-to-point event. I’m sure we could get enough people running it to make it worthwhile… Something I’d love to be a part of – I’ve run the route and think it would make an amazing race. Hopefully we’ll look into it a bit more over the next year and who knows what will happen?
That’s it for my long runs before Fellsman in 3 weeks – a race that terrifies me… I’ve got my mandatory kit OS maps marked up with the checkpoints and it looks bonkers! My initial 15-hour target looks ambitious, and I’m hearing sub-17 is ‘good’ – so I’ve revised my goals. It so much depends on what happens when it gets dark and who you are grouped with – once it gets dark you HAVE to run in groups of 4, so having someone who knows the course is a big advantage! There’s no course markings, just 62 miles, 26 checkpoints and 11,000′ of ascent – how you get around is up to you!
Next weekend – “The Bath Beat”, a 26.5 mile off-road picnic from the LDWA… Like I say, ultras are an eating competition with a bit of exercise thrown in!
I’ll leave this entry with a quote from Hunter S Thompson which seems appropriate as stringing these races together seemed impossible not so long ago!
Yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why