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Grand Union Canal Run 24th May 2003

After meeting my Sister, Chris and 11 years old Lewys for the first time in over 2 years it was another late night and little sleep before heading down to the Gas Street Basin in Birmingham at 5:15 am to register prior to the 6am start. After being bed ridden just 6 days earlier with a cold, I did no training or exercise the previous week apart from going to the sauna and steam room to "sweat" the cold through which appeared to have helped / worked.

Linda and Lewys


Gas Street Basin in Birmingham 6am 24 May 2003

The weather was perfect and at 6am 60+ of us started the GUCR trek towards London along the canal tow path.. many have different philosophies and styles and experimenting with Ironman 6 bottle fuel belt and ne carbon fibre & Sorbothane heel orthotics I decided to try a 4,5,6,7 approach... competing first marathon in 4 hours, second in 5 and third in 6 or less etc. etc. realistically was aiming to do 100K in 11-12 hours and pass the 70.6 mile checkpoint between 13 and 14 Hours.

The first Marathon distance was on good surface and I paced myself perfectly going through 26 miles exactly on 4 hours and quite comfortable and then at 30 miles the surface turns to a grass bank with every step jarring the ankles one way and another... with plenty of time I decided to walk through that patch this time and then once on more stable grass track continued to jog. There weather was still perfect, a bit of sun, some clouds and the occasional shower with light winds so was not concerned with carrying goretex waterproofs...

Running well, relaxed, happy and confident at approx 35 miles.

I passed through the 48.7 mile checkpoint in 8H 40mins which was close to schedule and unable to quickly eat a huge beef burger  walked off up the canal eating small bites at a time. A shower had started and thought it would last just a minute or 2 like the others, but it turned into heavy cold rain and it didn't stop for over 35 minutes... the rain dropped the air temperature many degrees and the cold water dropped my body temperature down dramatically.. being very cold, shivering and wet, my legs tightened up very very fast and after going through 52 miles in approx 9H25 they started cramping and was not good at all.

   Many locks together climbing a gradient. 

Since 30 miles I had realised that I was dehydrated.... my urine was now very very dark brown and I was concerned and feeling very low after feeling so good for the previous 50 miles...  I knew I needed to take some rehydration fluids and lots of calories.





Climbing the ramp with Lewys at 62 miles to cross tunnel.

The legs did not recover, they were tight and  could not get them to relax and I walked through the 100K at 13 hours and reached the 70.6 mile checkpoint in 15H 20 minutes just  1.5 hours behind schedule but by now 10+ runners had passed me during the previous 15 miles.

I changed into warm night clothes and set off for a long walk during the night.. i was hoping that the legs would ease so that I could jog for a couple of hours to get through the 100 miles within 24 hours but the legs remained tight and got tighter as I reached the 75 miles bridge 74 where my sister had decided to make another supply point prior to going to their hotel.... with the thought of a hotel and the fact that the legs were not going to recover from the cold of the prolonged rain shower... I sat in the car for 30 minutes and decided to retire. At best i would have faced a 20 hour walk to finish just inside cut off and I was still completely dehydrated and I believe it was the correct decision to make.

SO, just 75 miles was all I completed of the 145 mile GUCR race in 2003 but have learned many things as the taping of the toes with Compeed worked perfectly.. no blisters or sores and slim fast prevented and signs of an upset stomach but I do need to eat many thousands more calories and drink lots more liquid than the contents of the 6 oz bottles.... the fuel belt is good but definitely need to have large bottles of liquid to stay hydrated on the long events like this.

But with virtually no running this year due to working in USA through very cold snowy winter and being wiped out by a cold just 1 week before the race, I am happy with what I achieved and definitely look forward to running many shorter ultras this year.


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Copyright 2002 Challenge Meredydd: Deca Ironman World Chapionships
Last modified: 06/13/09