Bath Beat

Probably the shortest ultramarathon in the world

26.5 miles? Who's idea was that? I guess if someone want to make that psychological leap from marathon running to ultra running then this would be the easiest place to start.

Well actually, no.  The rain poured all day and the route was slippery and fully exploitative of all three dimensions. The stiles and fences were numerous and always inconvenient. This was a typical LDWA event.

The Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA)  stage a relatively untapped goldmine of great events that runners are usually welcome to take part in. They differ in crowd and atmosphere to most other types of events. A mix of walkers (who usualy set off early) and runners make these events more about the finishing and fun that the racing and clock watching.

Progress in these runs are not measured in miles or hours but in paragraphs on a page. The beginning of rach run we are presented with a few sheets of A4 with instructions of how to navigate through farms and fields; tracks and trees, cark parks and cow-pats. The true feeling of satisfaction is not the progress from mile 19 to mile 20 but the finishing of paragraph 12 and starting to read paragraph 13.

The Bath Beat started (and finished and all points in between) pouring rain. Much of the course was on dirt tracks which made this quite difficult. We were warned that this route was not exactly flat. Like a woman on a night out in a cobbled town centre I felt like I let the side down with completely unsuitable footwear.

It concerns me a bit nowadays how much my calves hurt at the first hill of any race. This case it was after only a mile. I've never felt this before but the last few races since day 2 of Jurrasic I've felt incredible pain on the first hills I ascend. Luckily (and it's a good job I remember) the pain subsides and I'm OK again after a few miles.

Unfortunately after 6 miles of this race a combination of my abysmal downhill technique and unsuitable footwear saw me slip over and slide down a mudchute, cracking my knee on a rock (or possibly several). I gashed it open a bit and it swelled. I could feel it for the rest of the run. GUCR is only 5 weeks away so a poorly knee would be most unwelcome.

The best thing about these races aside from the human interaction is the amount of great stuff you get at the checkpoints. There is always something you have not had in a run before to gorge on, this time it was Bombay Mix. Risky, but we were running in heavily wooded areas and I had some tissue on me. Some of the checkpoints were unmanned, meaning we had to take note of a name or number from some object along the way. If anyone wants to cheat the next year the telgraph pole number is 115, the lamp post was 9 and the name on the bench (obscured by a tramp) was Eunice Davies.

The paragraphs fell by the wayside like mile markers in a "proper" race. Each of the checkpoints was lavishly supplied with biscuits and cake. I ran with Dave for most of it and we nearly missed a checkpoint. Not sure where we went wrong but we did climb under a railway bridge and over a fence so we couldn't have been on track. We did eventually see some other runners who informed us that they had just passed the last checkpoint and it was about a mile away. Dave was keen to go back and make sure this race counted officially as he was on 96 marathons and was not going to cheat himself. So we ran back to the checkpoint and back again towards the finish.

My knee didn't bother me anymore which was a relief, though I finished yet another race with a schoolboy graze. Don't know why it always seems to be me that gets these injuries, I just fall over a lot more than normal.

This was a really nice run with great path, some canal sections and in a historic UK town. Would do this again.