Heights, Flights and Men in Tights

Antony Gatley

Following on from my previous post regarding my short journey from Park Run to Ultra Marathon I thought I would follow it up with a short, honest but truthful race report. The Race was the White Rose Ultra – a 30+ mile undulating route around trials, paths, quiet country lanes through the lovely countryside to the North West of Huddersfield (Marsden/Golcar).


Firstly the dictionary definition of undulating is: “to have a wavy form or surface; bend with successive curves in alternate directions”. My suggestion to the Oxford Dictionary to change it to: “ridiculous heights/hill climbs followed by sliding down on your bottom into the centre of the Earths depths”, will hopefully get approved very soon.


As you would expect for such a race I set off on the Sunday Morning excited, nervous, worried but generally happy I could finish the race. I was carrying the full kit requirements (waterproofs, food, water, emergency bivvi bag, hat, gloves and spare base layer), what I didn’t expect were sunny cloudless blue skies and temperatures of 18-20 degrees in November. Carrying a full pack including over a litre of fluids in the blazing sunshine was not really part of my plan. Neither was running trails in my old trusty and most importantly cushioned road shoes, because I had bruised my foot in training and needed to nurse myself through the first half of the race.


IT WAS WARM, IT WAS HARD BUT I DID IT! Race completed in under 6 hours with over 4715ft of elevation gain!


What I don’t want to do is recount my own race word for word as that would only really benefit myself. Instead I would like to offer the following lessons that I have learnt from this race that should help anyone thinking of stepping up to this distance:


  1. Chaps, don’t worry about wearing running tights, nobody looks good in them.
  2. Pork pies make an excellent running snack (if these are your thing).
  3. Putting on a fresh pair of socks after 20 or so miles is heaven.
  4. Don’t ever say “I never get blisters or chaffing” as this is a sign for the blister fairies to sprinkle their particular type of pain on you.
  5. If you get caught short and need a tinkle (or worse) in a race. Going behind a bush/tree out of sight of the other runners going past is fine but also check the sightline behind you – most ramblers have great eyesight!
  6. Make as many friends as possible on route, you never know when you may need a hand up after tripping and flying body flop style into a stream.
  7. Cows are bigger than they look on Emmerdale – fact.
  8. The last 2-3 miles are 99.9% definitely longer than the first 2-3 miles.
  9. Suddenly running and smiling with your thumbs up, whilst going up what feels like Mt Everest (from walking and looking like you have just been dug up) when you spot the photographers is also fine.
  10. Smile, you are doing this for the fun of it.


Sometimes the hardest parts of races like these are the parts you least expect to be. Being able to dig deep mentally and keep going when everything else is wanting you to stop is a hard skill to master – your body is capable of much more than you think it is, training the mind to trust it will reap many rewards.


If you’re thinking of taking on an Ultra and believe you can do it… you’re halfway there!


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