Crawley track 12 hour Ultra

I ran around in a circle and I went home.
The End!

Ok, that’s not quite the full story. A track ultra can have some limitations, it perhaps lacks some of the inspiring scenery that one may find over the course of some ultra marathons, it’s a tad repetitive and if one had a bad day you could suggest it could even be boring!

So why do it? (A question ultra runners often get asked.)

For me it was an opportunity to test my legs over a considerable time and test my pacing strategy (calling it a strategy might be a stretch!) I would like to tackle some 100 mile races and this is part of my way of assessing my progress. An advantage of the track is if you need something or have an issue, help is pretty close at hand.

This was only my second time to stand on a 400m track! It was bigger than I thought, as the day moved, on I recalled looking at Olympic finals on the TV, I found myself looking at the lanes, measuring out the 100 metres thinking how much longer it looked and how it could that be done in sub ten seconds – sweet divine is Usain Bolt even human?

The Crawley track ultra is organised by the legendary Pam Storey, http://pamstorey.co.uk/. I came over from Dublin, it is a very quick flight to Gatwick and a short train ride to Crawley town – overall relatively inexpensive to get there. It’s a fundraising event and one I was more than happy to participate in. I’ve met some fine runners there and there’s a good vibe at the event.

What Crawley has managed to provide, in my two years attending, is assemble a formidable array of talent even in its small numbers. Last year, as a relative newcomer to running and ultras, I saw Team GB attend and it was a great pleasure to share the track with incredible athletes like Debbie and Marco Consani. I also got to speak with a two time winner of the Sparthathlon, James Zarei, http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/a-legend-in-the-long-run-closeup-james-zarei-1365573.html
this was company above my humble station! It was also nice catching up with some familiar faces like Paul Katsiva Corderoy (a terrific runner who must surely have some Gaelic DNA with that red beard!) and my own countryman Barry Thornton who is proving himself to be a fine runner. I have the good fortune to bump into from time to time.

This year saw another sensational athlete, Mark Perkins, push the boundaries of what can be achieved. Mark of Centurion running ran a staggering 100 miles in fractions over the 12 hours, it was nothing short of inspirational. Normally an athlete of Marks calibre would be at home having his lunch before I’d see the half way point, so the track offers a great chance to observe the finer tuned elite – his/her technique, focus and strategy. Mark seemed to move so effortlessly hour after hour it was a joy to behold, the mental strength that people like Mark possess is perhaps the thing that strikes me most. Sure he’s a talented athlete but I believe the mental strength it takes to push the body to its limits, at that level, is a delicate balance of mind and body that I can only aspire to.

So back in the slow lane I did, however, achieve a PB of 103km. I had a target of trying 10km an hour (ordinarily this would be a sedate pace!), I got a good piece of advise last year which was ‘…not to run like a boy…! ‘ 😀 so I parked my ego in Gatwick and tried to find a sensible pace, and you know what, it worked! It wasn’t perfect but I hit the numbers I wanted and, while there’s room for improvement, it was on the whole a good day. Last year I ran too fast (boy!) and paid a price, when things go wrong the track can close in on you and it’s hard.

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So that’s my experience of Crawley and I would also like to mention how welcoming and helpful all runners, organisers, and officials were on race day. The lap counters were great and it’s quite a thankless task. If you are new to long distance running and want to test your potential do consider the track, just don’t blame me 😉! Oh and another little piece of advice is to remember that rushing off to catch a flight straight after may not be the smartest move. Ive never realised how many stairs there are in airports, especially Gatwick and each was a mountain – it’s easier climb them after a good day!

My next plan is a number of marathons as my alter ego https://www.facebook.com/cousinbearlyabletowalk.act.
Running is a serious business lol!! I’ve also the small matter of a 24 hour track race in July!

Thanks for stopping by .

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