Get to the pub by 4 ultra - DATE tbc - may 2020

I like to run long distances in the countryside. I also like to loaf about drinking while chatting to other runners about race vests and calf sleeves. If only there was a way to combine the two….
— @ultrasmasher1979

Does this sound like something you might say? Then this could be the race for you.

The idea is simple, a 50k route over some lovely Bedfordshire countryside. Only instead of everyone starting at the same time, everyone finishes at the same time.

You will be given a start time based on how long you are expected to take.* Say for example you are a 6-hour 50k runner, you will start at 10am. One hour after the 7 hour runners and 1 hour before the 5 hour runners. You then make your way along the course and in theory you gain on those ahead of you while those behind will be catching.

Then, hopefully…… as you near the end of the course you will be in a proper race! In fact, if you are never near the front in a race then this is probably your best chance of ever winning!

What I hope will be the main selling point of this race is the opportunity to all head to the pub afterwards. I love long distance races, but everyone finishes hours apart and we often just go our separate ways at the end. Hopefully this will be a bit different.

Run under UKA rules


The Route

50k of mostly lovely footpaths around Bedford. You will be provided with a map but most of it will stick to well-signed well known footpaths such as the John Bunyan Trail, the Greensands Ridge Trail and Cycleway 51. In fact the last 10 miles are a straight line, perfect for when you are reeling in other runners!

Provision OS map provided below. I will provide a GPS file later

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The Venue

Box End Park. A fantastic venue just outside of Bedford. Popular for watersports and outdoor swimming it also hosts a number of running and triathlon events over the year. There will be parking as well as good toilet/shower/changing facilities. Camping is also available (book and pay separately)

Most importantly, it has a bar and a very nice restaurant. Since you should all arrive at about the same time it will be a great opportunity to be sociable.

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Sign Up

Cost is £25 (Affiliated). This will include

  • Use of Box End facilities (shower/changing/parking/lounging on grass)

  • A printed map of the course

  • 3 Checkpoints with standard “Ultra Tapas” - Water, coke, crisps, sweets etc

  • Someone to tear his hair out figuring out what time you should start


Is there a cut off?

Hard to say! Since you will all be starting at different times it’s more likely that the faster runners will be behind schedule. Most of the slower runners should be through the first checkpoint before the fast ones have started. The last Checkpoint (about 6 miles from the finish) ideally would be closing about 3.30

*How will you calculate my starting time?

Probably 43% your input and 57% my stalking you on power of 10/DUV Statistik. I will probably use any marathon times you have as the best guide but obviously it’s not going to be an exact science. I will start people at 15 minute intervals (so you will most likely start with a group)

Can I run with a friend who is a different start time to me

Yes you can but if you start earlier than your given time you will not be able to rank in the results. You’ll still get a finish but you can’t win!

Is there any compulsory kit?

Some means of carrying water. This race will be cup free so you will need bottles/cups/bladders to get you around

What noise should I make when I overtake someone?

I find a simple “Nnneeeeooooowwwwwwwww” suffices. But don’t be too cocky. You don’t want to revel in your own awesomeness and then take a wrong turn and have them slow clap you into the finish with a beer in their hand

How many Checkpoints will there be?

Three. Approx 11.5 miles, 19.5 miles and then 25 miles. So your gaps between CPs will be 11.5, 8, 6.5, 6.5. The Checkpoints will be very basic, water, coke, sweets, some savouries. No hot drinks, beer, wine or lobster I’m afraid, wait till the end!

Will this happen again next year?

I really hope yes! Right now this is a low key test of a concept. If it works and I’m not lynched at the end then I hope to repeat the event next year with more runners

Is this open to anyone?

You should have run at least a marathon before. I’ll be looking at your race results and will make a call. You must be over 20 years old on race day

What’s the earliest you will let people go?

8am. There is no “cut-off” as such but the idea is to finish at 4! If you have a bad day or get lost and add some bonus miles you may well finish after 4. That’s not a problem, We should be there until they stop serving beer. You’ll have some (more) catching up to do.

When will be find out our start times?

About 2 weeks before the race. You should already have a ballpark so you can arrange your travel

Are there any medals/prizes?

No. I’m trying to keep this low key low cost.

Is there a GPS available of the route?

You should be able to download it here on my Strava. I ran the course recently. NOTE - The bit through Sandy will change slightly.

How will we know where to go?

You will be given a map and a route description. The course is mostly on well marked footpaths/cycleways. There will be no additional markings from me! The first 4 miles are on the river path into Bedford, you then spend about 6 miles on the John Bunyan Trail heading south. You then pick up the Greensands Ridge for 10 miles of lovely trail running. A little mimble through Sandy and then you are on national cycleway 51 which is more or less a 10 mile straight line back to the finish. It’s impossible* to get lost on this.

The trails are fairly well marked but you need to keep your eyes peeled. It’s easy to miss a sign and run off course. Hopefully when you get to the 20 mile point you can just head your head down and run along the impossible** to get lost on bit.

*OK, runners seem to make the impossible possible with things like this.

**“Impossible is nothing” and all that.

Will there be space to leave stuff at the start/finish?

Yes - Box End Park has a car park so you can leave stuff in your car. Otherwise there will be a bag drop which will be supervised for the duration of the race.

What shoes should I wear?

You probably would not go far wrong with road shoes. Most of it is on tarmac cycleways or fairly robust farm tracks. There are a few gnarly bits here and there which might be tricky in the wet.