Report from Hannah Lupton: I can’t exactly remember whose idea it was to join Sara Richard and Gilly Wight for my first ever ultra, the Round Ripon Ultra organised by Go Beyond Ultra (awesome organisers and support). What I do remember is starting the year with my impending 40th birthday looming and having a mid life crisis as I’d not done enough challenges in my life and deciding entering an ultra was a great idea.
So with advice from our very own ultra marathon guru, Sarah Fuller, I put together a training plan that I could fit round my busy life (and husband being away when I needed to be out training). I’d just like to say a massive thank you to all of you that joined me on my training runs, it was a huge help and I’ve never felt so supported. A big thank you to Hugh and Sally for dragging me round a 19 miler one Sunday whilst I was hanging out of my behind!!
Both Gilly and I had last minute niggles which threatened to make us pull out but thankfully all three of us turned up at Studley Royal on the 1st October full of excitement for the day ahead. As we were sticking together we’d also decided to wear the same funky Little Miss Naughty running tights which got a lot of attention throughout the day. Including being interviewed for Radio 4 about the recent increase in interest in people completing ultras, why was the big question, because it’s fun and a laugh was our answer?!?!
What can I say about the route, it literally has a bit of everything. Hills, road, fields, river bank, woods, moor, cows, lots of stiles and more mud and bogs than I was expecting. The route leaves Studley Royal and heads through Ripon up to Masham, mile 16, down to skirt round Kirby Malzeard and back to Studley Royal for an awesome finish turning down the drive at Studley Royal Park to finish at the village hall. 35 miles and it was all over in a near 8 hours and 45 minutes.
I have to admit I had completely underestimated how hard it would be. About mile 12 and after a long stretch through a wood which was very undulating, tree root and mud lined, my legs were sapped and I was surprised to be starting so early with a major wobble. This lasted for most of the run as I started to hurt literally everywhere. Believe it or not, I was fairly quiet for the next 15 miles in my own living hell, telling myself over and over again I could do this and I wasn’t pulling out, not ever. There was the odd interlude where I felt good which was mainly when our supporters popped up, Justina at Masham, Laura, Joanna and Nicky at 25 miles and Neil and Tamara at 29.5 mile. It was a huge boost and I’m very grateful that you came along.
It wasn’t all bad and as both Sara and Gilly kept telling me I’d laugh about it tomorrow. Well it’s tomorrow and I can confirm I’ve laughed about a lot of things: me freaking out at the cows and hiding behind Gilly for protection, making a wrong turn and realising we’d taken 15 other runners with us but making our way back onto the right route, Gilly stuck on a wobbly wall telling Sara it wasn’t funny, listening to Sara and Gilly chatting away but not being able to talk, just smiling to myself. And what about the awesome comments about our tights and the generally lovely people we kept bumping into along the way.
I can even laugh about the stiles!!! Let’s just say I’m not friends with stiles or gates at the moment, after 20 miles they aren’t easy to negotiate!
For anyone contemplating entering an ultra for the first time I can honestly recommend it if you want a challenge and my biggest tip is train hard, and then train harder. Not just physically but mentally. Will I do one again, well as I was hitting the wall (again and again) and trying not to snivel (as I don’t do crying) the answer was most definitely not. Now? Ask me in a week or so’s time when I can walk properly again and I’m less traumatised….