2011 Salisbury 54321
I took part in the Salisbury 54321 50k trail run with Stouty and Matt B (Fetch: Cheeky Conswala) who was also joining us for the 20k run on the same day.
We left on an overcast Sunday morning quite early on for the 1 hour drive to the event and arrived about half an hour before the race which was sufficient time to pick up our numbers and get ourselves prepared.
The event was organised by the Salisbury Fire Service and started in front of the Fire Station which doubled up as Race HQ on the day. There was ample parking on a field opposite the Fire Station right next to the start.
There were an estimated 900 or so runners and walkers taking part in a run or hike from 5k to 50k and so the course directions varied depending upon the distance. Each runner/hiker was provided with a map and detailed directions but I have to say the course markings were excellent and there was no need to review the map at all. Water points were at least every 3 miles and so I decided to take a bottle belt and 1 bottle as opposed to carrying a hydration pack as the sun was starting to come out and I didn’t want to carry unnecessary weight. The event was also fairly inexpensive at about £17 I think.
As we lined up for the 9am start, I saw fellow Fetchy Blackbird Leys Boy who was nearing his 100 marathon club achievement (Number 100 will be Abingdon I believe) and Hunterwray approached us and said a few kind words about our GUCR blog.
At 9am after a few words from one of the race organisors, we set off. Stouty and I didn’t really set any sort of race plan. For me, I wanted to get a long run in before the Ridgeway in a couple of weeks and neither of us had completed any real long runs since the GUCR so it was a case of taking it steady and getting a few miles in the legs. My pre-race Fetch prediction was 5 hours which allowed for a steady off-road run in likely warm conditions and allowed for a bit of time for checkpoints and photo opportunities.
We started near the back and ran across the field to a small bridge and followed the river along a track path for a couple of miles. There was only enough room to run in single file, so there was little opportunity to overtake. The odd stile also meant some congestion at points but we weren’t overly concerned as we had planned to take it steady.
After 2 miles the route opened up onto a road and you could then start to run at a more natural pace. Our mile splits for the next 8 miles or so varied from 7.30 – 8.30 with the frequent checkpoints (every 3 miles) pushing the odd mile up a minute or so as we stopped for water. The pace actually felt comfortable but was quicker than planned but we felt ok and carried on as we were. We started to overtake quite a few people at this stage whilst a few others overtook us as everyone settled down to their natural running pace. Another Fetchie did run past and say hello but I’m sorry to say I forgot his name.
The marathon event had started at 9.30am and the 50k runners had run an extra leg of the course before we joined the marathon route near an old hill fort called Old Sarum and as we looped around this point we started to see a different set of faces started to appear as we met some of the marathon runners. I bumped into Fetchie Corona doing his first ever marathon and wished him well before carrying on.
The route was largely off-road through trails, woods, fields and country lanes and was quite enjoyable. We also passed a couple of points called Avon river/barn or bridge or something. The trail was far more undulating than I had expected with constant up and downs the whole ways although there were no real “killer” hills. The weather also started to get quite warm and so I removed my base layer quite early on. Unfortunately, my brand new Fetch top started to rub my nipples and I was feeling quite sore, so I was thankful for a pot of Vaseline at one of the later checkpoints!
Stouty had found a mate who had assumed he was a bodybuilding Fireman (he’s not) from his build and engaged him in conversation about bench-pressing weights or something to my amusement.
I also have to mention the gentlemen who ran with a walking stick, yes I know it’s a contradiction but if it helps him run, then why not. He makes a brief appearance on our video (link at the top).
At mile 13, Stouty had a little incident where he tripped over a
twig stick and caught his foot which started to cause him some discomfort. It wasn’t enough for us to stop or receive treatment but just enough for him to moan about it for the remainder of the race.
We got the to 16 mile point in around 2.15 and were faced with a long gradually rising hill which we decided to walk up. At this point the weather was really warm and we agreed to slow the pace a bit and take it steady from this point.
After a slow mile 16 as we walked up the hill, we settled back into an steady rhythm, chatted to a few other runners, enjoyed the view and well just had fun running with no real goals in mind. (Quick hello to Ian (Bio) whom we chatted to for a bit).
At mile 20 it was fair to say we slowed a bit as we started to take the odd short walking breaks up the odd hill or just after a checkpoint which were still appearing very frequently. In fact the checkpoints were almost too frequent as it was hard not to stop for a cool drink and some cake or a mars bar. In fact the checkpoints seemed to outdo themselves each time with some fruit (nice), cake (nicer) or even later mars bars (awesome). I felt like Bruce Forsythe after passing each once and commenting “you’re my favourite checkpoint”.
The final 10 miles were a little slower than the first 20 but we carried on at a steady pace. A carb gel at mile 23 seemed to perk me up a bit. The mile markers on the course disappeared around mile 21 for the marathon runners (about mile 26 for us) and we later learned some of these had been removed by persons unknown (minor misdemeanours are better than looting I guess) and may have caused some of the runners on the shorter distances to go further than necessary. In fact Matt later reported his 20k race was actually 22k. To be fair with about 5 different distance events being managed at the same time, the event was remarkably well organised.
So we continued to tick off the miles as we got closer to the end and with a mile or so to go we entered the central part of the town and headed towards Salisbury Cathedral where we couldn’t resist stopping for a few photos as someone shouted “What are you doing, you should be getting a move on”. Well let me say that mid-race tweeting, taking video footage and photos and generally having a laugh is just how we roll…
The town was fairly busy and the last half a mile towards the finish was crowded and busy and involved us weaving through the crowd of shoppers. Not the best end to the race but necessary if you wanted to pass the cathedral on the way in to the finish which arrived a few minutes later.
I crossed the road towards the finish and did hear the marshals instruction to turn left at the path but for some reason carried on forward instead. A quick turn and I was pointing in the right direction as Stouty and I crossed the line together in 4hrs 55mins (Garmin time), pretty much spot as planned, well sort of planned.
There were still quite a few people sitting out in the field, enjoying the glorious day and a good atmosphere at the finish.
We picked up our medals and headed back to the car for our picnic lunch and sat around and ate our lunch before eventually heading home. Overall, it was a really well organised and enjoyable event and certainly one I would do again. In fact, the different races and distances meant Matt came along with us and we could all participate in a race we were comfortable with and had some extra company which may be a good idea for groups of friends/club runners wanting to organise an event for wider range of people.
Our finishing time was as expected but of secondary importance to getting a long training run in. Really enjoyed the day overall and perhaps the lack of a goal helped that aswell as normally you judge the event on your result and today we just enjoyed the day.
One Response to “2011 Salisbury 54321”
Thanks for writing this up. I’ve just signed up for this years 54321 50k and it’ll be my first ‘ultra’. Good to know it’s a decent event – bit daunted, but looking forward to it!