Ok before I start, yes I’ts an LDWA event, so it’s not a race and not even strictly a running event. As a new member of the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) I was apprehensive what I was entering but happy to give it a go and see the lay of the land. After all Rudolf romp is a LDWA event and many people run that.
I am a member of the LDWA as I worked out late last year that if I did 2 events the saving as a member is about equal to paying the non-member rates for their events, so why not. This was my first LDWA event of the year, the next being Springtime in the Lakes 50 in April. Both of these events are training event for my A race of the year Lakeland 50. These events are being used to test equipment, nutrition and harden my body again to ultra running.
The world of Ultra running is not new to me, but it’s not recent either. Having completed the Lakeland 50 in 2014 and 2016, it’s been a while, my only other race greater than a marathon was a 50k in 2016. I am learning all over again the pain, the pleasure and did I mention pain….i’m sure there will be more of that later on.
Roundhay 50 was chosen due to its length, proximity to Hull and as a “gradual” increase in what I have been doing without it being too gradient heavy. It was not important to me that it’s an LDWA event, it was about getting the miles in, testing kit and having an experience. Time to complete the event was not forefront in my mind. A 5am alarm on the 22nd of February and I woke to down some porridge and jump in the car with my number one fan, chief leg washer and wife, Kristina. Arriving close to Roundhay park at 7:30am I managed to see the 8am ‘walkers’ set off. I was setting off at 9am with the ‘runners’. Before I continue runners do walk in these events and walkers do run it seems. Also as the event is two different loops from the HQ, some people do one loop marketed as 28 miles and others do the other loop marketed as 22 miles. It’s a proper mix of people with large packs in walking boots and runners in small packs in running trail shoes. My initial impression of the LDWA is that it is a proper mix of people, and it is catering more for runners than it maybe used to. As a runner I was fully welcomed and catered for, any apprehension I had before the event soon put to bed.
There is mandatory kit and food you need to carry. Maps, warm clothing, emergency food and I was using an Ultimate Direction vest, and running in some INOV8 Terraultras 260 both bought on recommendation. This along with water does weigh you down…..but I was ecstatic with both the new pack and shoes.
9am came and fuelled by coffee and toast from the HQ I set off. Kristina was running Roundhay parkrun and we saw each other as she was running one way and I the other. Roundhay parkrun apparently is hilly and very tough in the wind, more of that later. I fell into the lead group of 4/5 people setting off at a decent trot pace of sub 9 minute per mile. For navigation the 2 people I was with was reading from the directions supplied. An example being as per below:
1.1 Leave Church grounds TL on North Park Grove. X crossroads (North Park Avenue). X crossroads (The Avenue). At T jct, at end of RD, X RD to tennis courts & TL. In 50m, TR down ginnel. At end of ginnel, X RD using pelican crossing & TL on RD. In 100m, TR thru gates into Roundhay Park (SE327 382).
I was relying on my Garmin Fenix 3 for following a supplied GPX files, but as I was to find out a few times the more reliable source of navigation is the supplied directions; that said running and reading is not what I was used to and after I became detached I was to learn that lesson. The group of 4 stuck together for the first leg. Nice bit of chat and relaxed, one occasion the GPX trace sent me a slightly different way to the directions the other three took and it took me a few of minutes to catch up as my route was slightly longer, but that was here nor there. After about 1 hour 50 minutes we reached the first checkpoint. On offer was egg, ham or tuna sandwiches, crisps, half a banana and a small chocolate bar. Having scoffed a tuna sandwich, crisps and banana I re-filled my water and continued onwards while drinking a coffee from my collapsible cup. I lost touch with the three others I had been running with, but I was not racing and I had my GPX file on my Garmin to follow. Having started back running I was soon to get into touching distance of the other three but never pushed it, and as the wind really started to blow decided that walking in the crazy wind was the safer and more tactically savvy approach. At this point I need to say that from this point to the end of the event the wind was seriously crazy. It was strong enough to blow you from your intended running path, saw a few blown over trees and had many a small branch crash around me during the event. Not ideal weather conditions. Along with the crazy rain of the last few weeks, often the underfoot conditions were seriously sloppy, running at times was impossible. Forward motion was lost by slip sliding all over the place. Anyway that my excuse!
During leg two, this was probably were I lost most time on the event. I had issues which meant there was lots of walking where I could have and should have been running, and without been crude….I just needed the loo. I eventually found a pub on the route, ordered a diet coke on the way to the gents, and paid for it and drank it on the way out. Job done! Running was back on the menu and onwards to the next checkpoint.
On offer was a choice of bacon roll, sausage roll or fish finger sandwich, of which I had the latter with a coffee. The next section is the one that is least vivid in my memory, so much so there is little I can say about it. I know I was running fairly consistently during this time and having some walking breaks here and there, but I was also passing lots of other people, usually people that started at 8am, but by the end of the leg other people on the event were few and far between. There was a self-dib checkpoint in this section, something I was not expecting but seemed logical and I did what I was supposed to do. Before arriving at the HQ Kristina was waiting for me to jog in a quarter of a mile with me. On offer food wise here was a jacket potato with a number of different fillings, I went for vegan chilli. Probably too big of a portion, but I am not one for turning away food, so it went down.
The next leg heading back out knowing there was 22 miles to go and being tired was not easy, but was what I was there to do? So after a longer stop than I would have liked, off I went. By this point my legs had stiffened up somewhat, but I soon buddied up with two others for a while and that helped me get going somewhat. Having said that it probably took me 5 miles to get fully loosened up again and get some good pain free running in. Kristina surprised me with an impromptu visit on route during a section that was hard to run on due to the surface but that gave me a boost. Arriving at the next checkpoint Kristina was to follow me though the door after getting a little lost and apparently I was in 20th position. Soup was on the menu in this establishment (a cricket club) and it was so nice. Seriously tasty soup, I’d redo the 50 miles for more of that soup!
The next leg was both mentally tough, and most painful as running was killing my legs, but I was forcing myself to do as much as possible. There was a reservoir and the ground was good for running and if anything I as too tough on myself at this point, really harsh with myself and really forcing the running. There was a section after this which was my lowest point where I just could not run but I forced a march and just got on with it, while having a bit of a wobble mentally. Another self-dip checkpoint and onward to the last proper checkpoint, after another good section of running and singing to myself “everyday I’m hustling” and “everyday I’m shuffling” over and over and over again. On offer here was snacks and supermarket style pizza of which I had a slice. Kristina was at this checkpoint too, quick-ish stop and off I went chasing two chaps down.
Somehow I missed a gate and realised I was the wrong side of a 10 foot wall, this is where the GPX file slowly showed I was diverging away from the course. After about a 1/3 or 1/2 of a mile and starting to worry I was getting too far off course, I had a choice, plough on or turn back and find where I went wrong. I decided to plough on. I was running on a grass verge the side of a busy A road it was now dark and I had my head-torch but eventually and happily I saw a fence I could climb, so I did. It wasn’t the easiest of climbs and my legs protested, but job done. The next section was a nice runnable section which I made good progress, followed by some nasty sections of sloppy mud and a feeling of ice skating style running/walking. Knowing that there is only a handful of miles to go and being able to see the miles tick down on my Garmin really helped. Again Kristina was about 1/2 a mile from the end waiting for me and we ran in together. I was done, done with the event and physically done. The steak pie waiting for me at the HQ though was lush. Honestly the food we were given as part of the event was awesome. Never knew I could run and eat so much! I also never knew how many layers of mud could attach to my legs, so much so when home in Hull I stood in a bucket in my back garden and Kristina washed my legs, the perks of being my number 1 fan eh!!!! 😉
As this review is nearly as long as the run itself, all that is left to say is that this was an awesome event, and if they run it again next year I would highly recommend it. It was £25 for a LDWA member and £40 for a non-member.