Dubai Creek Striders

Ridgeway Ultra

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Lyn-Si Striders on Tour 14102013 Ridgeway Ultra 17794

Ridgeway – UK – Oxfordshire

Report Author:
Lal TR and Lyn-Si Fisher
Date of event:
24 August 2013
Distance (km):
137km
Highlight:
Best scenery in Europe Marathon
Enjoyment rating for event (out of 10 for utterly awesome):

10

Organisation rating for event (out of 10 for fantastic):

10

Self inflicted Torture rating (out of 10 for insanely painful):

10

Course:

The Ridgeway is an ancient & historical traveller’s trail dating back to stone age, used for transporting farm produce & cattle from the midlands to London. It stays high up the hills most of the route… giving splendid views along its way of the countryside, Chiltern hills, farms, true English villages.

When we ran it in 2013, the start was particularly wet, take care in these conditions as the start is at the top of a chalky hill (Beacon) exposed to the elements. The ground and chalk can be particularly slippery in wet conditions so watch your step. There’s no fun in twisting an ankle in the first minute of a 20hour race!

Scenery:

Amazing English countryside! You’ll run up and down hills, over grassy meadows, through woods, fields of corn and cows (through many cowpats), gaze across mind-blowing countryside views, quaint English villages and have a sunset horizon guiding you into the night. This is the stuff of dreams.

Weather conditions:

Awesome weather with lovely rain keeping you nicely refreshed and wet. Be prepared for all the elements here, you’ll be exposed to wind, as the Chilterns are high in places, rain and sunshine – remember, this is England in the height of summer and a public holiday weekend. It is traditional in England for the last public holiday of the summer to be wet. You’ll only need a light waterproof though as it will be on and off your back throughout the run so ensure you can carry it in your running pack when you don’t need it.

Race description:

This is one of the biggest in the world (alongside NY, Berlin, Chicago and London), not just in terms of the number of participants. The logistics, services, performances and media coverage is incredible and extensive.

Weather conditions:

Since the race takes place in July, it is mid-summer in Switzerland, but coming from Dubai, the weather, this year at least, was perfect. During the day, with the sun shining it was 25 to 27 deg centigrade, but in shaded areas, when running through the pine forests, it even felt cool. It can rain heavily with thunder storms, as we saw the day before, but fortunately race day was perfect.

Fuel and water stations:

Well equipped with light cold snacks and drinks in all 10 stations. The support from local running clubs is quite incredible and makes this one of the best organised and supported ultras in the UK. It’s a real triumph to the soul to have the support of so many volunteers. As the run progresses and night falls, the larger stations have hot food and drinks as well which you’ll need during the early hours of the morning. A really excellent level of organisation and support. You won’t need to carry much of your own food unless you are allergic to jelly babies, oat cakes, cheese, banana, cakes, soup, tea, or porridge. Overall, we thought this was an impressive set up, very well organised by local running clubs and we met some lovely people both as volunteers and other runners.

Atmosphere:

Fabulous… especially, running in the night through endless chalk roads keeping an eye out for any stray headless horseman coming our way …., just to say hello to him! Be prepared to find yourself running solo at many points during the night – the runners become fewer and far between as the run and night progresses. It’s a long slog in places as you’ll be desperately fatigued both physically and mentally. This is hard core so pace yourself and always ensure you have a support crew ready to meet you at designated points along the night route.

Helpful tips:

Take a head torch with spare batteries and keep all your running clobber for the course in a waterproof backpack. If you can find some chums or family to provide support along this run then you’ll be considerably more successful. Don’t imagine it’s easy until you’ve completed it! The last train back to London is at the mid-way point which you’ll reach between 8pm and 10pm if you’re on the 12pm start. After this, the options for injury and finding a place to recover are less so ensure you have non-runners and other runners with you who you can contact in an absolute emergency. It’ll give you peace of mind too. This is a great run and you’ll make a success of it but don’t under-estimate how tough you’ll find it in the last few hours.