The Ox Ultra 2015 – updated

About 600 runners gathered at the weekend on the Rushmore Estate in the Wiltshire countryside for a series of four races.  The location is in a huge estate park, with ideal camping fields, and the Saturday afternoon and evening were warm and sunny.  If anything a bit too hot for running, but the forecast for the main race day (Sunday) was for cloud cover, and a bit of rain.  The cloud cover we got, the rain never happened.

The more intrepid runners ran the Dark Ox race as a warm-up on the Saturday night, with headtorches, and it was very entertaining to see them all head off en masse in the wrong direction after the first 100 metres.  The rest of us concentrated on carboloading for the next day.

There were three races on the Sunday: the 36-mile ultra, starting at 8:30, the marathon starting an hour later, and a half marathon starting an hour later still.  The routes overlapped a lot and all finished together, which all worked well.  The route itself was an all-out trail route: some woodland paths, but mainly on wide stony and gravel tracks, making for fast running the whole way, despite the 900m of climbing.  It was a warm day even without the sun being out, and we needed to take on plenty of water on the way round.  Personally my legs were already shot after running 100 miles the previous weekend.  I managed OK for the first 20 miles, then started struggling up the long climb north.  The next 7 miles of track heading west seemed to go on for ever, and the last 6 miles back south were torture, even though this was the prettiest bit of the whole route – I was in no state to run that far!

We think the Ultra was won by Anthony Clark of Bournemouth AC, in 4:39:18, with Ian Hannett of Bedford Harriers 3 minutes behind him.  First Runfurther runner was Chris Davies, with James Ashworth and Carmine De Grandis not far behind.  First woman was Kate Whitfield, last year’s Runfurther winner, in 5:34:23.  We had 14 Runfurther members running, which was pretty good, considering how far from home most of us were!  There were some significant problems with the published race results, but they appear to be sorted out now (apart from James Ashworth’s time still being wrong).

The race was a good one, and I think we need races like this in the Runfurther Championship, to counterbalance the mountain races at the other end of the offroad ultra spectrum.  Karen Nash has written her blog up, and that’s here – she got a few photos around the race HQ, although she didn’t take her camera on the race.

I think we’ve settled on getting buffs for members who run 4 counters this year, and we’ll be putting an order in for them shortly.  The plan is that you’ll win a buff the first year you run 4 counters, then something else the next year and so on.  We’ve now got 6 members who are owed buffs (names in red on the leaderboard).

The Runfurther leaderboard has been updated, and you can find that here.  It includes a corrected time for James Ashworth.

We’ve now got two possible contenders for a Runfurther Grand Slam this year.  David Wilson of Bowland Fell Runners has confirmed he’s attempting it, and Karen Nash is starting to think she might too, although how she’s planning to fit that in with all her other travel plans for this summer is anyone’s guess.  See you at Shap on 13 June – there’ll be  committee meeting the evening before as well, if anyone wants to attend.