Saturday, 7 am. Short night behind. 50 miles ahead. ahead are fields, forests, meadows, mostly hills, in front of us grass, mud and forest roads, ploughed soil, ruins of a medieval abbey, charming English villages. Ahead of us is the whole day on the way... how long it will be, it is to be seen. We are looking forward to favourable weather, to - after all - a limited amount of muddy rivers to beat up or down, we are counting on the support of our friends and on our memory of the route from last year. Random small arrows located on fences or rocks will help us.
Night turns into a day, dusk, light mist and clear sky, heralding a nice day. Noticeable coolness and a handful of people standing on the informal starting line of the ultra marathon around the city Rotherham in South Yorkshire, England, sharing the same hope to cover the route with no problem, no injuries, no doubt.
Justin and I start with around two hundred freaks and a new adventure begins. Each step is precious, every step is metaphysical. I am feeding myself with the beauty of creation. I am drinking the morning dew and breathing in the extraordinary. I do not give my body a chance to release the voice of a cold, which is still present after two hours from the start but loses its fight utterly soon. This will be a good day. Victorious. Full of positive experiences, I hope this continues. This ultra is my feast, my escape to freedom. Let it last.
We are arriving at CP2 [check-point] where our support team is expecting us: Agunia, Anne and Richard. A Polish flag waving ;-) eat a cookie, have a sip, use the restroom. Back on the track again.
Miles pass. Muddy trails increase the feeling of adrenaline and sharpen feet. Great workout for balance, the rhythm changes into transversal: jumping from the left leg to the right to avoid puddles or mud river, not to sink in liquid mud up to our ankles. Sometimes, however, it is inevitable.
A year ago, a crisis struck me on the 33rd km and lasted for about an hour or even an hour and a half. At the back of my head I still keep this fact but this time I run this section gradually accelerating and getting into my rhythm. A good rhythm. And then we are converging to the next CP.
CP4 in the background: it is 49th km, meaning it is now over the hump [but actually often up the hill]. We are spending more time at the stations than the others because we have a great support team so we take the course socially. When we pass other participants on the route, at the check-point they are catching us, moving ahead of us, and we are passing them again [running up the hill – despite the sacred ultra rule which tells you to walk up the hill... but it doesn’t feel good for me to walk uphill, running seems so much better so I am listening to my body and keep running].
Running out of the woods, we passed the ruins of a medieval abbey, now running into the churchyard. The Flag waving is patriotic. CP 6 is ahead, which is separated from the finish by 11.3 + 5.1, which is 16.4 km.
Vast fields, where we have gone astray badly last year, are left behind now. This time we managed to avoid blunders and we are converging down the wild meadow to the last check-point. Mud down the hill brings us to a halt.
A final spurt before us, the last 5 km. Shortly the adventure will be over; the adventure that has shrunk this year by almost 2 hours. We are arriving at the finish line still during the day as the route took us 9h 37 min. It seems that an afternoon and an evening are still at our disposal. I cannot believe how fast it went this year. The vision of muddy ground appeared initially as a substantial hindrance. Eventually, different surface on the way changed the race rhythm which had a positive impact on the course, breaking the monotony of the running motion and making it a truly diverse exercise.
Finish line is conquered. Joy. A year ago, I ran here for the first ultra medal, to discover what ULTRA really means, to test myself and see how I can manage it. This year I knew there are no medals here; there is only satisfaction and a great adventure. There is solidarity among long-distance runners who treat the marathon distance as a sprint. There is cordiality, goodwill and co-existance. This is it.
English faithful translation:
a second ultra race of mine, the same event, the same place: fantastic day for me and my friends, truly exceptional and to be remembered big thanks to the organisers, to all marshals and to our beloved support team!
ultra is certainly my way of living.
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