Another Ultramarathon Running Blog

2012 Compton 40 Challenge

Batman & Robin took part in the Compton Challenge which is an undulating off road run with a 20 or 40 mile option (we were doing the 40). We travelled to the start with Adrian Lee (Fetch Exflyboy) and collected our numbers and donned the capes ready for the run.

2012 Compton 40 Challenge
We were joined at then start by fellow Fetcheveryone members Nicole and Sue and we also spoke to Chris as we lined up in the sports field at the back of Downs School as the light rain eased off prior to the start.
2012 Compton 40 Challenge
The pre-race plan was an easy sensible run as we both had minor injuries (Stouty’s back from carrying the Batmobile at Reading Half and I had a minor knee niggle) to manage as we build towards our run across Wales in a months time. We placed ourselves at the back as Dick Kearn started the race and we trotted around 2 laps of the field to help spread the runners out and avoid congestion in the first wooded area near the start.
We settled into an easy rhythm for the first few miles and found ourselves overtaking a few people before settling into a position with people who were running around the same sort of pace which varied between 8.30 m/m and just over 10m/m depending upon the terrain which was undulating.
Stouty nipped off for an early comfort break and after he caught me up declared he felt good and was going to go for it today. So after 3 miles the pre-race plan was out the window! I decided to stick at a steady pace and left him to it as Batman gradually disappeared out of view ahead. I was running close to Nicole and we pretty much stuck together and chatted away for the next period of the race.

The majority of the route is off road on tracks and trails through a few fields and wooded areas with a few roads and lanes and is pretty much up and down the whole way with the first half probably a little tougher than the second half. Detailed directions are provided but the route is well marked with ribbon and ground markings and you can pretty much follow the whole route with too many issues (I nearly missed one turn later in the race but a following runner gave me the heads up).
The conditions one the day were cool with light rain on and off although I did get pretty warm in the costume after some sustained periods of running. Checkpoints were pretty frequent perhaps every 5 miles or so and were stocked with water, squash, coke, jelly beans, Jaffa cakes and a few other items.
I passed fellow Fetchie KStuart early on during the race and spoke to him briefly before carrying on.
There is a nice wooded trail part of the section around the 8-9 mile mark which was my favourite part of the run just before we took a right hand turn onto a country line as we headed on towards the big hill at the 11 mile point which Nicole and I joked about running but were both quite happy to walk.
Sam Kilpatrick caught up with us and ran with is for a while and we chatted for a bit as he told us about his plans to take on the massive challenge of Badwater later this year and hire an ice-cream van to accompany him on the way (I may have made that last bit up).
I was feeling pretty comfortable as we continued at a steady pace of between 9m/m to 11m/m with an extra minute or so being lost at checkpoints as I grabbed a drink and some snacks each time to save myself having to keep topping up my Camelbak. I was kindly reminded by each Marshall how far Batman was ahead, it started off at 10 mins then got longer and longer as the race progressed, just what I wanted to hear!
Nicole wasn’t feeling 100% during the run (it wasn’t a “pom pom” day I’m afraid) and decided to finish the run at the 20 mile point and so we said our good-byes at this point about 3.15 into the race.
The route splits off left and right as the 20 milers head left to finish as the 40 milers head right for another loop. I decided to refuel at this point and spent a few minutes walking as I munched down some chocolate raisins, an energy gel, a protein bar and a few cola gel shots which I had decided to try out (and which went down well.)
I plodded on by myself for a bit chatting to another runner briefly before we got to the 25 mile checkpoint. I don’t think the refuelling had really helped as I felt like I was running out of steam a bit and stopped at this checkpoint to take on some more food and drink and fill up my hydration pack and spare bottle so I wouldn’t have to fill up again.
As I was about to leave I saw Adrian heading towards the checkpoint in the distance and decided to wait for him so I could have some company for the next part of the race as it was getting a little spread out.
Adrian made a quick stop and we trotted out together. Adrian was running at a very steady pace but kept going without really stopping and that suited me fine as it was comfortable to maintain the pace and his willpower to keep going was probably the incentive I needed to drive on for a bit after flagging a little earlier. Adrian was giving it a little bit of effort and so there wasn’t much conversation (well it more one way conversation) as we stuck together for the next 5 or 6 miles or so. The pace at this point has slowed a bit from earlier to around 10m/m – 12m/m.
At that point Adrian, said he was going to try and keep it at a steady pace and try and run to the end, which I took to mean the pace would slow a bit and so we agreed I would just trott on at my own pace and we wouldn’t worry about sticking together.
There was another small group of 3 runners together who we kept passing occasionally but apart from that we saw very few people around this point.
I spoke to Stouty around mile 29 on the phone, he was about 2-3 miles ahead and aiming for a 6.30 finish was really good bearing in mind he was running in a padded muscle chest Batman outfit and his time last year was around 8hrs 30mins (after an admittedly below average performance for him). If he achieved his 6.30 finish that would be a 2hr improvement and Personal Best which was a massive result.
I carried on by myself as I glanced at my Garmin told me I had covered 30 miles and I was now counting down the last 10 miles or so. I worked out that if I could keep a steady pace going and not walk too much further than I may just sneak under 7 hours.
Mile 31 was slow as I walked up a hill and received a call from Mrs Avon who was wondering how I was getting on after which I ate some more chocolate raisins before plodding on. From this point onwards it was a run/walk effort with a steady plod on the even and downhill parts and a brisk walk on the uphill parts. My legs were obviously feeling the effects of the run by now so my stride length was shortened and my right quad was a little sore but this was the expected state of health at this point in the race. I have to admit my right knee niggle was definitely feeling sore and I could feel this every time I pushed off into a run after a checkpoint or uphill walk. In fact I was compensating by pushing off with my left leg but once I was into a stride it didn’t bother me so much. My pace for the last 10 miles varied from 9m/m to 12m/m and averaged around 10m/m but this was pretty much influenced by the terrain.
Despite feeling like I was flagging a little towards the, I managed to keep a run/walk going and the lure of the sub 7hr finish was a good motivator.
I overtook the small group of 3 people and eventually caught up and passed another runner ahead of me with a couple of miles to go. I was looking for the mental markers of the large field you turn into which then leads up to the wooded area which marks the last half a mile or so. Eventually, I got to this point and then glanced at the Garmin to check the time. I had about 5 minutes or so to get the last half a mile done although you can never be sure about the exact distance I knew the wooded area was fairly close.
I glanced behind me to see the chap I had overtaken a short while ago not too far behind me and as soon as I hit the wooded area I hit out for home with renewed vigour. It’s a little strange that as soon as you know you are virtually in sight of the end, you can summon this energy for a decent last burst after a few miles of plodding hoping it’s going to be over soon.
I zipped through the wooded area which was pretty much downhill and glanced at the Garmin to see my pace was heading around the 7.30 m/m for the last part of the mile. As I ran down the slope towards the end, I pulled down the Robin mask (have no idea why.. I guess I wanted to finish in true SuperHero style) and crossed the finish line in 6.58.42 where Lucy, Dick and a few other marshalls were greeting the finishers and looking a little cold.
Despite a steady run the whole way through where I ran comfortably, felt ok but wouldn’t consider this a real race effort, I took 37-38 mins off last years time of 7.37 for a new PB. This race (along with the Thames Trot) is a good benchmark race as I have done it for the past 3 years now and since recording an 8.52 in a miserable effort in 2010, I have improved my time each year despite being adorned in a cumbersome costume this particular year.
I headed into the canteen to see Stouty having some food and was greeted with an impromptu round of applause by the other runners for the fancy dress effort which was much appreciated. Stouty had finished in 6.28 in 20th position overall which was brilliant and Sue had also finished in 6.28 and was 1st lady home which was an amazing result beating last years time by nearly 40 minutes so a good result for all three of us.
Adrian finished a few minutes behind me in 7.02 aswell which was a great result for him.
2012 Compton 40 Challenge
We got showered and changed and took advantage of the included meal which went down very well before watching Sue receive her presentation before heading home.

Once again, it was a well organised and fairly inexpensive event. There are no finisher medals but for your entry fee you get to run, the support en-route and meal at the end and a free t-shirt although this years colour was a very very bright orange which means I may just save this one for the DIY chores (…and I don’t do DIY).

2012 Compton 40 Challenge

One Response to “2012 Compton 40 Challenge”

  1. Ken Hughes

    Good race report – I saw you guys on this, must have been *pretty* hot in those costumes…I must agree, it was a good race, well organized and I'm not too sure about the colour of the T shirt… :-).. Ken


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