Sean's Millennium Way ultra experience

On 11 April club member Sean Baverstock completed the 66km Millennium Way ultra race.

Here he shares the experience of preparing and running the event.

Hard target – to survive

Soft target – under 10 hours

Result – 9h 38m

I’d be lying if I said I’d put a lot of forethought and planning into this ultra.

My original plan was to take part in my first one at the beginning of this month but it was unsurprisingly postponed at the beginning of Feb until next year, although it was obvious that it wasn’t going ahead at the beginning of the year.

With no race in the short term my training inevitably tailed off a little, so in early March when Rachel Lloyd offered up her place in the Millennium Way Ultra I blindly bit her hand off.

With too little training and 66km to run I knew I’d have to get my nutrition and pacing right if I was even going to get close to finishing the race.

With my longest single run standing at 25km and second day run of 10km I was a long way off the race distance, even if I was putting in 50% more climbing over the 25km than there was in total for the race.

My only saving grace was that I knew my heart rate inside out having spent the last 12 months run training in Z2 so should have a decent endurance base and the understanding of my heart rate to keep my pacing in that endurance zone.

Race day was largely uneventful, I stuck to my pacing, ate at the distances I’d worked out (and noted down on a que card that also had timings I should be hitting or 20, 40 & 60km, as well as the distances for the aid stations). 

0-20km – The start of the race, socially distanced staggered starts in a car park, in the snow.

The race was seriously flat, mostly being on old railway lines and canals. I was still within my training distance here so the pace I’d calculated for the race felt too easy but I knew this was a good thing as it left something for later on when I’d need it.

20-40km – I was very mindful of any niggles as I was going into the distance I’d not run since 2015 so needed to be careful. Nutrition and hydration was going well and I was feeling surprisingly good. I’d started to listen to audiobooks at about 25km to occupy my mind.

40-66km - The aches startedat around 40km which I fully expected given how far over my longest run I was going.

Periodic stretching stopped them ever progressing into anything more though. The last 5km felt like the longest of the entire race, probably not helped by the fact it was a straight run of canal right next to the A38 so very noisy.

Finish – Very low key, the race organiser stood outside his car collecting the GPS trackers as you finished.

Finishing 22 minutes under my soft target was a big surprise considering I didn’t even know if I’d be able to cover the full distance.

Having ticked my first Ultra off I’m hooked and am already signed up to another in August with the intention of finding one or two more before then.