Ultra Runner: Iain Prentice

A Tale of Two Ultras

I recently completed 2 ultra-runs on successive Saturdays, same distance (40 miles) but very different events and experiences.

First up was the Chase Hike in Cannock Chase on March 15th, a scout-organised team event which mostly attracts walkers, but I had been persuaded to join team of 5 Kizmiaz, which I later found out had won for the last few years and now were hoping to break their time record. The weather was benign, the course was self-navigated (but familiar to my team-mates) and mildly undulating, through the forestry and surrounding farmland, with some canal stretches and rather more road than I am used to. This resulted in a slightly but significantly faster pace than usual for me, few opportunities to have a breather walking up hills, so a fairly relentless steady jog. Company and surroundings were good, but I felt the time pressure, and flagged in the middle section in a long warm valley, before rallying towards the end, and we did beat our time finishing in 7 hours 12 mins (17 mins quicker than 2013).

This event seems to have a similar feel and tradition to our local Long Mynd Hike (similar kit checks!) and it looks likely that I will succumb to unfinished business and return next year to try to beat 7 hours. Mmm….

Second up was the first MCN Welsh Ultra of 2014, in the Black Mountains. This featured sunshine and snow, 2800m of climbing, and a wind chill of -12C up on top. I was going well until taking a wrong turn (apparently someone moved a marker!) and adding another 2 miles to the distance. We had a long section between checkpoints at 25 and 36 miles which involved climbing onto and staying up on an isolated high ridge – first of all I got stuck up to my knees in mud and had considerable trouble extricating myself safely, then while on the highest point a hailstorm struck with fierce freezing winds, so it was with much relief that I descended finally to the finish in Talgarth in 10 hours 1 min.

This welsh ultra is part of a series of 4 – last year I ran the other 3, but this event was full, so I now have the full set. Great views, great route, but very testing especially in adverse weather. Don’t know the official results yet, but guess I was around halfway down the field, 50 out of 100 ish.

Now I have 4 weeks break while Caroline gets some miles in leading up to the 100km Wellington Boot on April 12th


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