This was the first running of the Wye Ultra, and also the first of twelve races in the 2009 Vasque Ultra Running Series. The advertised route followed the River Wye south from Ross-on-Wye before heading east into the forest of dean to the turnaround point where runners would re-trace their footsteps back to the start point to finish.
Unfortunately a key footbridge crossing the river at the southern most point of the course was closed by the authorities at the last minute resulting in a change to the route and race format. The organisers opted for a double out and back route instead comprising four legs of 7.5miles. It was a great shame about the forced change which was clearly out of the hands of the organisers, although the feeling amongst the runners was that something a bit more interesting that the one offered could have been achieved even with the late notice, particularly given the wealth of trails the area possesses.
The revised route left Ross Rowing club heading south for a short section along the river bank before breaking off for 3 miles or so along quiet country lanes. It then traversed a wooded bank before dropping back down to re-join the river following lovely trails through woods and fields to the turnaround point. And back to the start again. Repeat.
Once underway the race provided plenty of excitement too. Midway through the first leg there were problems with route marking - it was missing in places - resulting in the chasing group I was in going astray and adding half a mile or so to the route. Not ideal, particularly in a relatively short race. The resulting gap between the lead 2 or 3 runners and us was a tall order to make up, and was maintained until the last leg when things started to change significantly. All Smalls made a well timed push, moving through the field in the last few miles to win by a minute or two. I also started to find the right gears in the last leg but it was all too late so I had to settle for 5th, around four minutes behind Allen. There were also strong performances from Vasque series regulars Andy Davies and Andy Rankin.
It was always going to be a risky race for me to run. I was running on heavy legs straight after a week of snowboarding and hill training in the alps meaning the sharpness wasn't there. In fact I was completely knackered even before I started so all things considered it wasn't a bad performance!
It was a great shame about the teething problems with the race (I have mentioned a couple) but all in all it was a great day out and good to see all the ultra running regulars performing strongly early in the season. We are in for a great season.........
- Jez Bragg
- Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!