The Rat 100km
I had heard great things about this running festival. The event incorporates 64 miles, 32 mile, 20 mile and 11 mile options along the South Cornwall costal path. The start of each race is staggered so that all races finish close together.
I knew a couple of other people from TACH where doing this race so I emailed the guys from Mudcrew a couple of weeks before the race and managed to get a slot on the 64 mile out-and-back “Plague” option. The last 100km race I had completed was the HK100 nearly 3 years previous so I knew it was possible but I hadn’t trained much for this.
The initial challenge was the 12:05am start from Porthpean which was after grabbing an hours nap after the drive down from Bristol.
The first rule of an ultra is take the beginning easy and walk the ups. This was easy as the single track coastal path plus one hundred runners meant a ‘train’ of runners that didn’t disperse for several hours.
Though I knew the average elevation gain was going to be 28m per mile, the reality of the undulating coastal path was quite a surprise. At the first check point I started feeling twinges of cramp in the calf. I dug deep and pressed on through through the zombie hours of darkness. Navigation was pretty easy, keep the sea on the left on the way out and on the right on the way back! Luckily it wasn’t too cold and wasn’t raining and at around 4:30am the sky in the East started to lighten. Dawn was a great morale lift as was surreal conversation with fellow runner as the sun came up over the sea.
I got to St Anthony, the 32 mile turn around point, at 7:30am and started heading back. This was one hour before the 32 mile ‘black rat’ race started from there. From then on I had a few low periods where I had to walk a little but on the whole I got stronger on the second half and started running more and more. The last 10 miles I was running a lot of the hills and I finished strong after 15hrs 35min.
The support by Mudcrew was fantastic and the checkpoints where well stocked and medical support was very professional. You never really know what you will be able to eat and drink. I didn’t eat much (bacon sandwich, nuts and raisins, water melon) but flat coke seemed to go down well and I drank lots of water as it was a hot day. Fortuitously the cramp never came back after that initial twinge. It felt like I found my inner ultra runner after a 5 hour ‘warm-up’. I am convinced it is something to do with getting your body burning fat effectively.
The way the event is set up really helps as the 64 mile runners wear a special tee-shirt and other runners gave loads of encouragement along the way. I would definately recommend this event. Mudcrew are a very slick operation and managed to create a really positive vibe at the start briefing.
By David Higenbottam