South Downs Way 50 Ultra Marathon

From Rick's blog, take a look.  

Eddie Sutton (female winner) Paul Navesey & Rick Ashton at the start

 

The SDW50 was my 2nd Centurion Running Race and I couldn’t wait to experience another great set up from James Elson and team. I was feeling ready for the race and had been putting in some of the best quality training I have ever managed, due to not suffering injuries which really plagued me last year in my first year in the sport. The major difference was being able to do speed work and adding in hill work on a regular basis to prepare for some of the European races I have this year. On top of all the speed work I had also been putting in some super quality big runs with Paul Navesey, Eddie Sutton and Robbie Britton as well on the SDW. Not only did this make me work hard and improve, but it also made me change my beliefs and ambitions. It was only a few months ago I was dreaming of maybe running under 7 hours for the race and a top 5, but when I knew what time Paul wanted it made me think just what is really possible and I decided I wanted to beat Mark Perkins winning time of 6.55 from the previous year. I also thought it was near impossible to run all the hills in the race, until I trained with the above gang of hard arses, and I realised just what it would take to run a strong time on this course.

 

 

So here it was race eve. I'm sat on a train to Three Bridges to meet up with Paul who I would be staying with for the evening (In Robbie Brittons bed ;) but luckily for him, NO Robbie Britton. Now having been aware that all top Olympians eat Subway I was devastated that Paul didn’t fancy a foot long chicken teriyaki baguette for our pre race carb load, instead we settled for a our first face off of the weekend and headed to Nandoes innit. I was blown away by Pauls sophistication as he sat down to a starter of olives and I knew this guy was taking this serious, so I stepped up my game and ordered a side of ratatouille to go with my half chicken and rice. This is were it all started to fall apart though, the chef had made a major error with my order and had put medium sauce on my chicken instead of lemon and herb and I thought this could seriously damage my chances in the race, I panicked, but out of greed and impatience, devoured the whole lot, not to let Paul know about my deep concern of the knock on affect this major mistake could have made to my race. I kept my cool though and managed to keep going through the motions. Before I knew it, we were sat on Pauls couch watching unbreakable and getting seriously psyched for the race. At 9 PM, I decided to slide into bed to get some well needed rest. I was suprised at the sweet soft sheets with a delightful fresh laundered smell of lavender that Robbie had on his bed, and realised I may have discovered one of his secrets, I slipped on one of Robbies dirty ’Centurion Running Ultra Team’ T-Shirts and had one of the best nights sleep ever.I woke at 6am, the nerves started to kick in as I waited for the arrival of Eddie Sutton, a fear I carried with me all race. As we lined up I was surrounded by a few fellas and lasses that I knew were going to give us a tough outing. My plan was to stick with Paul for as long as I could but back off if feeling like blowing up. The hooter went and we all cruised off with Paul leading us out. The pace was tasty, around 6.30mm but felt ok, climbing up, the pace eased but the work rate didnt. Paul started to edge away and I was happy to let him open up a gap. As we came to our first real descent I was thoroughly enjoying myself and decided to smash it down the hill to catch Paul, mainly because I wanted some company and mainly to just look like I had massive balls, but realised I was daft and would end up paying for this. Paul slowly edged away and I decided to run my own race.

 

 

 

Roughly 10 miles in Paul Sargent came steaming up behind me, I was thinking this guy was going to try smoking Paul Navesey, but I managed to stay on him, even clawing back precious metres on the climbs. Around mile 18 I was having a real stinker and cursing not wearing my compression gear. My quads were on fire and all I could think of was why I hadn't worn my tightest shorts possible, but really the pain was due to smashing down hill like I was on a downhill training session (Idiot). Also Mark Perkins at this point comes cruising past and starts to open up a comfy gap on us. I turn my mind away from racing and all I can think about is getting to the finish, I'm hurting so bad and I still have so far to go. I had to focus on just trying to move efficiently and get my legs spinning. All I could think about was Geoff Roes in Unbreakable who was having a reginald at the Western States 100 but managed to go on and win it, now I had no thoughts of winning but if he could win that, then I can certainly finish this race.As the race drew on, I started to open up a good gap on Paul Sargent and I was running the hills well, every step, thinking Paul Navesey was ahead with a rope pulling me along, but what drove me to run each step and never stop, was the fear of Eddie Suttons footsteps coming up behind me and the absolute pleasure she would take in smoking my backside in the dying miles of the race, so on I pushed.As I raced on over the downs the mist was rolling in and visibility was getting poor, Mark was nowhere to be seen. As I approached the climb at Alfriston I spied Mark infront and had my first real thoughts of catching him. As I climbed I noticed he was having some trouble with his leg but he still seemed difficult to reel in. As I topped out I started to really get Mark in my sights, it was quite a concern though as I could see something was wrong, as we came together I checked he was ok and was relieved he just had cramp so I didn’t have to save his life ;)Now in 2nd place this spurred me on a little and I pushed on, the running felt good and I just wanted to get on to the last climb with some seconds to spare, I loved running it, it was awesome and I knew I was never walking a single metre of it, I pushed on over the top to be meeted by the super cheerful and supportive Drew Sheffield and threw myself down the descent into Eastbourne. I kind of thought I had 2nd place in the bag until I took one last look up the the road and saw the figure of Mark Perkins chasing down, I started to drop 6.45 minute miles along the final road section, I had no idea where the finish was and kept expecting turn offs to the track that never came, eventually I crossed the road and headed down the cycle track before that wonderful sight of the running track, it was awesome to see Nell my girlfriend there who puts up with so much of my bollocks and her mate Felicity, bagging 2nd place in 6.23. A time I never imagined running, closely followed by Mark Perkins who I look forwards to racing many times again, he is a credit to mankind and I wish I could finish races as cheerful as the whole Perkins family dose it.I was so proud to have dug deep for pretty much 32 miles, proud of Paul Navesey who is an awesome talent, of Eddie for crushing it and striking fear into my heart and everyone involved with the events at Centurion Running.

 

Roughly 10 miles in Paul Sargent came steaming up behind me, I was thinking this guy was going to try smoking Paul Navesey, but I managed to stay on him, even clawing back precious metres on the climbs. Around mile 18 I was having a real stinker and cursing not wearing my compression gear. My quads were on fire and all I could think of was why I hadn't worn my tightest shorts possible, but really the pain was due to smashing down hill like I was on a downhill training session (Idiot). Also Mark Perkins at this point comes cruising past and starts to open up a comfy gap on us. I turn my mind away from racing and all I can think about is getting to the finish, I'm hurting so bad and I still have so far to go. I had to focus on just trying to move efficiently and get my legs spinning. All I could think about was Geoff Roes in Unbreakable who was having a reginald at the Western States 100 but managed to go on and win it, now I had no thoughts of winning but if he could win that, then I can certainly finish this race.As the race drew on, I started to open up a good gap on Paul Sargent and I was running the hills well, every step, thinking Paul Navesey was ahead with a rope pulling me along, but what drove me to run each step and never stop, was the fear of Eddie Suttons footsteps coming up behind me and the absolute pleasure she would take in smoking my backside in the dying miles of the race, so on I pushed.As I raced on over the downs the mist was rolling in and visibility was getting poor, Mark was nowhere to be seen. As I approached the climb at Alfriston I spied Mark infront and had my first real thoughts of catching him. As I climbed I noticed he was having some trouble with his leg but he still seemed difficult to reel in. As I topped out I started to really get Mark in my sights, it was quite a concern though as I could see something was wrong, as we came together I checked he was ok and was relieved he just had cramp so I didn’t have to save his life ;)Now in 2nd place this spurred me on a little and I pushed on, the running felt good and I just wanted to get on to the last climb with some seconds to spare, I loved running it, it was awesome and I knew I was never walking a single metre of it, I pushed on over the top to be meeted by the super cheerful and supportive Drew Sheffield and threw myself down the descent into Eastbourne. I kind of thought I had 2nd place in the bag until I took one last look up the the road and saw the figure of Mark Perkins chasing down, I started to drop 6.45 minute miles along the final road section, I had no idea where the finish was and kept expecting turn offs to the track that never came, eventually I crossed the road and headed down the cycle track before that wonderful sight of the running track, it was awesome to see Nell my girlfriend there who puts up with so much of my bollocks and her mate Felicity, bagging 2nd place in 6.23. A time I never imagined running, closely followed by Mark Perkins who I look forwards to racing many times again, he is a credit to mankind and I wish I could finish races as cheerful as the whole Perkins family dose it.I was so proud to have dug deep for pretty much 32 miles, proud of Paul Navesey who is an awesome talent, of Eddie for crushing it and striking fear into my heart and everyone involved with the events at Centurion Running. 0
  • April 09, 2014
  • Matt Willis
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