Monday, 20 August 2012

John Lucas Memorial 50

For those not familiar with the John Lucas Memorial Ultra, it also goes by the name of the Round Strathaven 50, the race has been running since 2006 however due to low numbers in 2011 it was cancelled, this year Grant Jeans who holds the course record from 2010 in a time of 5:53:24 sent out a FB message in an attempt to recruit some of the SUMS stalwarts along, i don't know whether its too close to other events with the Devil O' the Highlands 2 weeks earlier and the Speyside Way a week later. the RS 50 also shares the calendar with the charity cycle event which attracts over 150+ with the option of either a 15 or the full 50 miles which starts a couple of hours after the ultra.

The weather forecast was looking good in the lead up to the event and proved no different on the day, it felt strange doing an ultra on a Sunday as most opt for the day before, anyway the race started at 8am from Strathaven Park and we immediately headed uphill and out of the village at this point Grant Jeans was leading, the usual for Grant closely followed by myself, i had no idea the positioning behind me as i wanted to keep Grant in my sights for as long as possible,we continued along the undulating country roads passing through the checkpoints of whitelaw, Drunclog,Exotic Birds where at 15 miles i took up the lead as Grant stopped for water, i knew Grant wouldn't be far behind but i continued to hold the lead,as we came through Sandford and then at the  halfway point (Stonehouse) my support crew of  Mr David Mooney who kindly gave up his day was following closely behind me (in his car) supplying the necessary food and replenishing the bottles for my waist belt commented that i had opened up a gap.

 On leaving Stonehouse you come down a hill just at Mile 26 followed by a steep uphill climb at which point it was a run/walk situation, once at the top it was back to normal service, the weather just seemed to get warmer as the miles came in. prior to checkpoint 6 (Glassford ) again you have another brutal climb, which they tell me is where a lot of the runners pull out. David was doing well with the encouragement but by 32 it was starting to take its toll on me, my Glut was sore and my calf's were starting to cramp up, i tried to strap an ice pack to my thigh but i could not move with it so it was a case of just keep moving, it seemed like an eternity that this was going on, as i came through checkpoints 7 and 8, Chapleton and then Auldhouse (mile 40) the cramp started to ease off, Possible due to taking some electrolyte tablets in my water, i managed to get a decent spell of running, it was a case of just trying to break down the miles in segments, Mr Mooney at this point was willing me on before i knew it the miles where starting to pass by in my head.

I was eventually back at checkpoint 1(Whitelaw) knowing that i only had the first 5 miles in reverse to the finish, the conditions were still very warm and the driver of the race car said to me its all down hill from here, i continued along still feeling slight niggles in my calf's but my only though was to get to the finish line, the miles seemed to pass by very quickly and then the driver held his hand out to indicate a mile to go at this point David came up beside me and said you've led for the last 34 miles don't throw it away, after my previous race a fortnight earlier i could not believe the position i was so i raced downhill for the last mile, throwing in a 6:55 mile to cross the line in 6:43:19 only to find Grant standing at the finish having pulled out at 31 miles.

I would like to say a big thank you to Strathaven Strider's for their post race hospitality, and race organisation and to the following people,

David Mooney - Phenomenal Support throughout the day
Lee and all the Marshall's for giving up their time
The Cyclists who all gave encouragement throughout the route
The Sponsors with some unbelievable prize giving
and the people who all took part without  which there would be no event

Post Race Thoughts - a very tough undulating 50 miles all on road with some nice climbs thrown in running through some lovely villages definitely something to pencil in to your diary for 2013 if you want to think outside the SUMS series.

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