Sunday, 11 April 2010

Race Report - Crawley 12 hour ultramarathon

Wow where can I start, a day full of emotion mixed with mental and physical pain, a day seeing journeys of great courage and friendship. This report breaks away from my usual type of "then I did this and then I did that" or "At such and such place we saw...." Circuit running doesn't blend well to that type of report so I will provide snap shots and commentary from my Army of brilliant friends and family who gave up a good part of their weekend to help out.

It was almost surreal - 15 persons from all over the UK running/walking/and some shuffling round a 400 metre track hour after hour, but no complaining from anyone, even though some must have been in real discomfort.
Richard D

My day started at 4.15 am when I was awoken by my alarm which saw me drag myself to the living room where I had my kit layed out. Choosing to change at the track I got on some warm clothes and had a cup of coffee and pack the final food stuffs into my box and into the car.
I drove to the M25 motorway and along the way it dawned on me that either side of the road lay the routes and scenes of many of my training runs across the Downs. Those runs were the many journeys I have taken to this monumentous day. As always, the North Downs were spectacular in the pre-dawn light, mist hung close to the ground and the sky was clear, this was the signal the day would be warm and clear.

I arrived at the K2 Sports Centre at 6.00am and was allowed to drive the car to trackside which was a blessing as I had a table, chair, kit bag and crate full of food and drink to drop off. I was pleased I got there early as I managed to get prime a location for my table. I was pleased to find that my running number was 13, Pat the organiser apologised but I have a tradition that I always like to run with a prime number!

(Liz, ably demonstrates Jerry HQ)

The Start
At 6.50 am we were called to the start line and after a final briefing about lane etiquette we were sent on our way. My game plan was to stick at 2:16-2:20 mins/lap for the first 4 hours and try to obtain a marathon distance no later than 11:10 am and not be suckered into a pack run but stay seperate from the mob, a plan that proved to work as within 4 laps they were lapping me, after all I had 246 laps to catch them up! This proved to be a pivotable decision as at the first hour I was in 13th position but over the hours I was seen to move up the rankings slowly and steadily as runners dropped out one by one with injury or flagged dramatically to a crawl. I had planned to cut the race into 3 sections of 4 hours. The first to run a marathon, the second to consolidate my run and try and get 20 miles in and then the last third to play by ear.

The Torch
At about 10.00 am I saw a flurry of strange activity on the trackside and on coming stand-side I saw the organiser holding the 1948 Great Britain Olympic torch, it was handed to me (or should I say I snatched it from her) and I was allowed to run a circuit or two with this iconic symbol.

In this picture I take a momentary break for a photo opportunity.

Congratulations to you Jerry. I love the pictures, especially the one of you running with the olympic torch! Have a lovely day today.
Pippa G (via the web)

The Marathon runners
At 10.00 am more distractions happened on the trackside as 20 or so characters appeared, some in AC club vests ready to do battle on the track for 105 + laps. Now this was to be a sight as a bunch of marathon runners belted down lane 1 past you. I was joking that this would be the only time we would be in front of an elite marathon runner in a race and the wicked side of me took great joy in overtaking the back markers and lapping them even after 20 miles or so :-)

And so it went on

The race continued, the sunrise glorious and the air cool but by mid-morning it was b
egininng to tell us it was going to be a very warm day and to make it worse there was a strong breeze which hid the effect of the sun. At 11.00 am my lap counter changed and at 11:12 am the iconic 105 laps was called and I sailed through my first marathon.

My Father was the next to take the clipboard, poor Ol' Gramps was very concerned for me but I made a point of going over to tell him I was OK and that my tactics were changing during the second third wher I would drop my pace to about 2:30 min/laps, no easy thing but I dug in to then find that a second bout of my gut problems had resurfaced and I had to make a second dash for the toilet. Emergency over I traipsed back on track and continued my run. What with the tummy upset over I was now entering "Secondary Wall" territory which normally starts at about 28 miles and through to 34 miles and I was beginning to feel it so I stepped up the fluids, drank some banana milkshake and chocolate brownies and dug in

You're in a dark patch now Jerry, you know where you are, you'll come through it you always do
Theo (trackside)

The journey continued by now the sun was out in its full glory, there was a strong breeze and my amazing helpers called my times, reminded me to eat and drink. My lovely Jamaican Ginger cake was nearly finished and I was just starting the syrup cake, cheese sticks were a good finger food and pints of Nuun were drunk.

Sun Up

OK he's doing quite well, though he's saying his thighs are hurting and he's not taking much on 5hrs he'd done 30.32 mi
at 6hrs he'd done 35.05 mi
pretty warm out, but there's quite a good breeze so it's keeping him cool.

Ian (trackside to web via iPhone)

Me just before 2.00pm 40 miles in

The turn around

At 2.00pm there was more movement on trackside and the dreaded cone was placed on the Start line, this was the signal for us to change direction, I had trained for this in the preceding weeks and had been told it was a welcome release but I soon found that this could have been my downfall. One thing to be aware of is your pace on the turnaround as it takes time for you legs to adapt.

Sadly this was my problem, I stepped over to a water bucket of
sponges, bent over ann I fely IT Band cramp up, I struggled on but I was in agony and limping badly. I was told by Ian to get a massage and so with trepedation stepped onto his couch much to the amusement of my friends as I squealed like a little piggy as my tormentor went to thigh like a Baker to his dough...but boy did it work. I took a big slop of Nuun and went on my way still hurting boy feeling better.

The race continued and now my recollection merges into one as my glucose starved brain went into autopilot. I was in the zone as I saw new friends arrive and go all doing a fantastic job keeping me fed and watered. I began to realise I was becoming snappy, decisions were beginning to be hard to make. The food went in, the drink went in but still the team cheered me on with calls to drink and eat. My stomach was beginning to reject solids and so I was surviving on brownies, cakes and banana milkshake with Coca Cola being a welcome change.

At about 5.45 pm I was informed I was on lap 225 and had 25 laps to go or 10 km, any training day I would have knocked this out. This was the only time that I felt my goal was out of touch and I had failed

You haven't come here to fail just get on with it and stop feeling sorry for yourself
Mrs Jerry and the Jezzarettes

I had been doing a run/walk strategy for the past 90 minutes and through my addled brain I knew I couldn't afford to walk any more so dug as deep as I have ever done so, the tendons joining my IT Band to my knees screaming and my right foot numb I plodded on, a new energy found as the last of the brownies and banana milkshake found their target.

Timers called "This is your fastest lap for over an hour and a half" and then again as I stepped into a steady rhythm, at 6.00pm I was in 7th place and I soon overtook the guy in front and was running 6th, the leader of the race came from behind and asked what had got into me as he was finding it hard to keep up with me. The end was in sight and the count was now downwards 8 laps, 7 laps, 6 laps...

To get to 100 Km with 5 minutes to spare was great - particularly since with an hour to go it looked like you were going to fall short but you put a marvellous spurt in towards the end to comfortably make the distance in the 12 hour time limit.
David A

..and so the 250th lap came and I was told that I had time to spare and could crawl it and still have time to complete my target...there is something obscene about not crossing a line whilst running so I ran over what I thought was the line and stopped and then the official shouted "Wrong line get over it" whoops I could have been caught out by 2 metres!

I have to admit the last lap (251) I walked but I don't care this was my biggest challenge, the furthest I have ever run in one go and I raised over £1000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity.


  1. Where can I apply to become a Jezzarette? Seriously, good show! Congratulations on the 100K and on finding the right bloody line!

    Lynn B (jlynnbob)

  2. What a fantastic effort. Well done!

  3. I can't possibly imagine running for that long on a track. Totally amazing.

  4. Nicely done Jerry. I felt for you with the IT band issues. Great effort mate.