Tracey Dutton finished 1st lady in the recent 45 mile Monster UK Ultra Marathon in Ely near Cambridge. Here’s her epic account!
After only one week taper and eating for England, my first Ultra Race Day had arrived. Woke up at 6:15am. Hotel was not doing breakfast until 8am, so I had resorted to instant porridge and 10K fuel strawberry breakfast shake. Poor hubby also missed his breakfast as he was suporting me on his bike and also had instant porridge and shared my shake.
I went downstairs to register about 7am, collected my race number (number 15) and a goody bag of hammer gels, 9bars, a beetroot, cherry and coconut drink and a long sleeve t-shirt. I went back upstairs to relax and get my kit together before going to meeting everyone outside Ely Cathedral at 7:45am for our briefing.
During the briefing we were told that we would meet agricultural machinery on the roads and there were bulls. Everyone was so quiet and nervous as this was also most peoples first ultra. Hubby asked if I was ok, at this point I was feeling sick with nerves and praying that I would not get lost.
We set off at 8am and the first section took us from the cathedral along the Gallery, through the Porta and down Cherry Hill, there was a lead cyclist taking the fast men. We ran through Jubilee Gardens and along a narrow path up to the busy A142 road, we crossed the road (luckily at this time of day it was quiet). We then followed Cyclepath number 11 all the time, running through the village of Barway and onto quiet roads to Wicken Fen.
Once we got to Wicken Fen we climbed the steps of the bridge over to Reach Lode and we were cheered along at the first check point at 11 miles (my time was 1:27:36) and I was feeling really good. At this point my pace was slightly higher than I had trained at. We continued along the cyclepath until it ended as there was no link to the river at this point. There were run route signs which took us over stiles and across a field with cows, calfs and a bull. I sent hubby in front on this bike.
At the end of field we came to the Green Dragon pub and where we had to cross another busy road on to the very long busy river path all the way to Jesus Green in Cambridge. Along the river there was several rowing teams being coached and the footpath was very busy. When we came into Cambridge we started to see the lead runners coming back past us. At this point I was 7th overall, but still first lady.
I reached the turnaround point 22.5miles 2:55:52 where I grabbed a bottle of water, drunk half and gave to hubby to look after. We then followed the same route back. I saw the 2nd lady and estimated that she was around 12 minutes behind me. The second half was really hard, the wind had really strengthened and it was a battle trying to run against it as most of the route was open land.
I passed one guy who said his hamstring was hurting, I tried to give him some encouragement. By time I got to the last check point at 34 miles 4:49:07 my ankles and top of legs were really hurting. I passed another guy who did the whole race without a rucksack, which I was really annoyed at, because in the race rules it stated you must carry a rucksack with a waterproof coat and a bottle of water.
The last 10 miles were a real struggle. It was a matter of putting one foot in front of another and the thought of getting back to Ely before Costa Coffee closed. Hubby was a real star kept me sane and tearing the tops off of my gels. It would have been a very lonely race without hubby to support me; the roads and paths just seemed to go on forever on the way back. With just 3 miles to go I felt something go wrong with my toe in the left trainer. I was in alot of pain, but struggled a long.
As we got back on to the last bit of river path hubby shouted there’s the cathedral. I smiled and actually waved hello cathedral I was so pleased to see it. As I went along the path I saw that Hubby had got off his bike. He was face to face with a bull, but the bull didn’t bother us and I managed to run pass him.
I crossed the very busy A142 road again and ran through now a very busy Ely city centre and because it was a very low key race, people were not aware that there was a race going on, I was having to say excuse me to try and get past people.
I ran up to the cathedral and when Monster UK saw me running in they put up race tape for me to run through, it was such an experience. I finished saying I thought I would never see Ely Cathedral again. I was presented with a cheque for £100 for coming 1st lady (5th overall) in a time of 6:36:08.
I hobbled back to the Lamb Hotel which was now very busy with customers having Sunday lunch, I did get some strange looks. I had a quick shower nursed my very sore feet, put compedes on the really bad toes. My hubby then took me to have costa coffee which I had been dreaming about all through the race. We celebrated later with lots of drinks. I will never forget this day for a long time to come.