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Two weeks & counting for the Millennium Way Ultramarathon.

Well, it’s actually only 5 days & counting but let's look at how things have gone over the last two weeks.

So I’ve completed the first 2 weeks of training. Things have gone alright… I’m still committed which is a good thing. Week 3 was for the longest run ever! 30 mile was the plan plus I wanted to test out carrying the running pack and check out the course (thought that would be useful as I had no idea where I was going)

10 miles in and met up with Pete at McDonalds in Rugeley. First thought was running with the pack with water flasks on the front did my head in. Bouncing up and down, I had to drink some water quick just to stop it from happening.

Me and Pete set off down the Canal towards Armitage before taking in the first of the off road “field” sections. I’d heard all the stories about knee deep mud, no track or trails to follow and generally a nightmare to run. We found completely the opposite. Well worn tracks, bone dry, sun out and warm. Couldn’t of asked for better. Following the route was tricky in places. Knowing which track to take in which direction. We’re looking for tiny little Millennium Way badges on posts and fences and the like. Really easy to miss one if you’re head down and pushing on.

Our plan was to run all the way the A38, turn around and run back. Sounds really interesting hey?

This way we’d get chance to check out the trail and have a second check at remembering the trails on the way back. From Armitage you head over towards Mavesyn Ridware, Nethertown, Yoxall then down to Wychnor. The first section was straight forward enough. The second section no so easy to follow. First of all you skip round some dark creepy graveyard then into a field with no paths and a stile wrapped in barbed wire, just at a perfect height to take your nuts off. Great! From Nethertown to Yoxall the path doesn’t get much better. We did go through a rather picturesque stream crossing before heading across another field and into a bramble corridor. After this there’s a few roads miles dropping down into Yoxall before the final field section towards Wychnor. Some funky wooden characters mark the trail (it’s actually part of the National Forest but didn’t see many trees) before the worst field to cross in the world ever. Deep ruts baked solid and really painful on the legs. Add on top of this 3 for 4 stiles to really test the legs. Not nice and we’d only done 20 miles. Come event day we’ll hit this at the 30 mile mark. I’ve got a feeling I'll be walking by this point!

After this there’s quite a nice downhill road section past Wychnor country club (looked very posh). It this point we turned round and started to head back.

For the record I hate “out and back” routes. Even in the car I’ll take a different route back rather than come back the same way. Plays on my mind... I know it's strange.

First of all we hit that evil field. It’s near on impossible to run over the field without damaging yourself. Every stride hurts and it feels as if you could do an ankle at any point. We walked this section and then got back into a run after that. A quick picture with the wooden man a little further down the trail before we got back onto the road near Yoxall. For some reason Pete hit a bit of a purple patch and started smashing it along the road. I hung on thinking he’ll back off at any point but no, he just pushed on. We turned off the road and all of a sudden Pete’s legs popped. The ruts and hard terrain had taken done it’s worst. It’s worth noting that at this point he’d run for longer and further than he’d ever done before.

Down through Bramble corridor and I get a bramble straight across the palm of my head. Blood start pouring out and an instant headache.

From this point on it was a walk / jog. Trying to keep Pete moving without stopping completely.

Finally we got to the Canal and the feeling of nearly being home got us both back running strong. There wasn’t much said along this final section. Both of us running in our own zones. Just focussing on putting one foot in front of another. All of a sudden Pete say’s “did you see that guy spark out” No, I missed it completely. We pull up and walk back to the bridge. Pete’s straight into hero mode. Up to the guy, talking to him, making sure he’s all good. Turns out he's off his head on drunk or drugs or both. This best the guy can do is lift a thumb to signal he’s all good and to leave him alone. Quite funny really!

Another mile or 2 and we made it back. Just short of 30mile on the clock. Legs felt dead. Not so much for the distance run, more because of the effect the fields had. Joints felt battered. Thankfully I’ve only got to do the one trip over them. I’ve been telling myself I could of continued for another 10mile. In reality I’m not sure. I certainly would of been doing a bit more walking.

The great thing is that this was the longest training run. It’s been a steady reduction since then. 15 miles last Saturday finished off the run training. From then on it’s all about the recovery. More time on the bike than the feet. Trying to keep the legs moving whilst letting the joints recover. I’ve started on a new pair of Hoka Speedgoats that I used for the first time on the 15mile Saturday run. Using them at work to break them in ready for the big day.

I’ve switched off the training and now just focussed on the planning. I’ve arrange for 3 helpers to run the route with me to keep me motivated, hold me back at the start and push me on towards the end. I know the last 10 miles are going to be hell! I know I’m going to need a talking too to keep me running. Weather looks cold which suits. My helpers will join me with liquids and food which should mean I won’t need to stop at the feed stops. I can fill up my pack from these supplies whilst keeping the weight down as much as possible. I want to keep running as much as possible and resist the temptation to walk for as long as possible.

Bring on Sunday and race / event day. Not that I’m looking forward to it. I just want it out the way so I can go back to doing the shorter more fun stuff.



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