Andy W reports….
I have done The Ox Marathon by White Star Running for the last two years and loved it, so it was the first race I looked for this year. I was devastated to see that they weren’t doing the marathon this year, however they were putting on two new races in the form of a 50-miler or 12hr duration, both on the same looped course. I made the decision to do the 12hr race purely based on the medal!
The furthest I’d ever run before was 30 miles and longest duration was 6.5hrs. I had no idea how I would react mentally and physically going further and longer than before. It was an early start to the day leaving at 5:15 for a 1.5hr drive to Tollard Royal (just south of Shaftsbury). It was cold and windy, but the sun was out and there was no sign of rain. 200+ runners set off on 12hr race at 7:59 with the first loop equalling 12k (so the first 4 loops equalled a marathon). After loop 1 it was a standard 10k loop each time containing roughly 700ft of climb, which was pretty steady up and down throughout.
After three loops and 20 miles in I felt strong but decided to take my first break and most importantly a top change, before heading back out for the next three loops to reach the half way (time wise) point. The sixth loop was painful and was my first real wobble in the event, but a longer break with more food/liquid and a sock change was waiting!
By this time it was very warm meaning liquid was very important. The seventh and eighth loops felt much more comfortable and the thought of finishing loop 8 equalling 52miles was always in my mind. I finished the eighth loop in 8hrs 15m; plenty of time to complete two more loops and reach my aim of 100km. After a 5 min break and a lot of liquids I set off on the ninth loop. From here on out it was really tough and I had my first few hints at cramping, but nothing to really stop me. The final loop was brutal; in the last 2-3 miles both hamstrings took it in turns to cramp every 3-5 mins which forced me to stop and stretch out. I’ve never been happier to see the finish line of an event.