Written by Melissa Arkinstall - http://www.run247.com/

This has to be by far, the biggest medal that I've ever received in all my years of running and triathlon....I think that it's bigger than an Olympic medal! "You're going to have to earn one of these the hard way"... said Lindley Chambers, Race Director at Challenge Running (www.challenge-running.co.uk). Hey, he's not kidding, but I smiled all the way through the task.

Chiltern Ultra Way medal

This is the first year that the Chiltern Way Ultras have taken place. There are two distances, 100k and 214k, both following the National Trail known as the Chiltern Way. The full route goes from Hemel Hempstead, Chalfont St Giles, the edge of Marlow, Hambleden, Bix Bottom, Ewelme, the Ridgeway, Stokenchurch, Great Hampden, Aldbury, the Dunstable Downs, Sharpenhoe Clappers to Harpenden and back to Hemel Hempstead; with the 100km race starting in Little Hamden winding clockwise back to Hemel Hempstead.

So, what is the route like? Well, you are running through an AONB for the majority of the race, so with the exception of a couple of streets around Dunstable and Luton, this is proper trail running turf. The scenery is stunning, rolling fields, farms, woodland and a stunning loop over the Dunstable Downs, all punctuated by quintessential English villages (willpower required to resist a pub stop)...and only a couple of brief encounters with the M1! It may not have the climbs of the Peaks or Lakeland Fells, but don't be fooled, the course is 'lumpy' (approximately 5000ft of ascent on the 100km race), and I think that this took a few competitors by surprise. The majority of the trail is in good condition, but there are occasional deep plowed fields and 'bramble alleys' to negotiate. Fine for road shoes on a dry day as we had, but if you were running this event after a soggy week, something a bit grippier would be well advised.

Chiltern Ultra Way starters

NOTE (please).... You must, must, must be able to read a map (and remember a compass!), as although the trail is signed, some way-marks aren't obvious or are overgrown. This isn't a fast course where you get your head down, follow the arrows and run; it is constant navigation, but not of the mountain marathon variety! However, don't let this put you off, I am not the world's most confident map reader and I was slightly worried at the start by tales of the 214k runners adding some huge mileage to an already big day...and night..and day! However, with a marked OS route blown up so that you can see every turn, with a bit of care, you'll soon be whizzing across the grid lines. In fact, all the concentration on map reading actually makes you forget how far your legs are running and adds to the sense of achievement at the end. GPX files are also provided and are a really good back up, but, battery life is finite and given the nature if the course, there is a definite (214k) and very good chance (100k) that you'll be night running with a spent GPS.

A great little confidence bonus was that we were all given 'trackers' to attach to our race packs. This meant that

  • a. Lindley can have a giggle watching all his runner's 'signal dots' dashing around doing random detours on his phone
  • b. supporters on the course can see when you are nearing a checkpoint
  • c. If you did get epically lost, you can make a call and be directed back onto the route, phewee!

There are checkpoints approximately every 25km, manned by lovely, happy (despite being sleep deprived), volunteers, who will help sort out water bottles. Medics are on hand to tape feet and feed you an array of goodies, my favourites of which included Freddo Frogs, Hula Hoops and my favourite, pink cake at CP3 (8 for the 214k).

The race HQ is at Feldon Lodge in Hemel Hempstead. An ideal base where the organisers will be ready cooking up hot dogs, bacon butties and for veggies like myself, tomato soup and peanut butter on toast for the ultimate post race comfort food! There are bedrooms so that you can grab a few hours of shut eye before driving home and if you are lucky, you may even get the Rocky theme tune played as you come down the long driveway into the finish!

Chiltern Ultra Way joint first ladies - Melissa Arkinstall and Kate Rennie

The first running of the race had a small field and quite a few DNFs ...only one person made it round the whole 214k!! So, the gauntlet is well and truly thrown down to those who want a real challenge in 2015, when the organisers are planning to make the event bigger and even better! I'm definitely putting this one on the calendar next year...hope to see you there!

To find out more about the Chiltern Way Ultras please visit: www.challenge-running.co.uk/chiltern-way-ultras

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Kailas Fuga Pro 4 shoe

Kailas Fuga Pro 4 shoe

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC After what I would call a successful review of the Fuga Air 2 race vest from Chinese company, Kailas, it seemed like a good...

Read more

Northern Soul

Northern Soul

Written by Anthony Stevens - https://www.oldiesultras.com/ 2022 Silva Northern Traverse: 2-4 April 2022   Pre-Race    There is something special about Coast-to-Coast races. Something about the fact that when you finish you physically cannot go any...

Read more

Northern Traverse Race Report 2022

Northern Traverse Race Report 2022

Written by Harry Adair This is just a short(ish) report for those who were perhaps tracking or following my progress and wondering why I was so slow and why I gave up...

Read more

Kilian Jornet Joins Team COROS

Kilian Jornet Joins Team COROS

Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg are the two newest athletes to make COROS their official GPS Watch COROS Wearables Inc.,makers of innovative performance GPS watches is introducing Mountain Running and Ski...

Read more

Kailas Fuga Air II Vest Pack 8L

Kailas Fuga Air II Vest Pack 8L

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC On receiving an email from Kailas asking if I could test and review some of their gear, I’ll admit that I had to go...

Read more

The 2022 ARC of attrition

The 2022 ARC of attrition

Written by - Antonio Codina The why I just love running winter ultras in the UK, which is strange because I am Spanish and in theory I am more adapted to milder...

Read more

Arc of Attrition 2019 - 100 Mile Ultra

Arc of Attrition 2019 - 100 Mile Ultra

Written by - Colin Bathe February 1st/2nd 2019 - Cornwall At school I was always the second to last person to get picked for a team in games. This was because I...

Read more

Arc of Attrition 50

Arc of Attrition 50

Written by Jean Baptiste Rouvelin - https://jbrouvelin.blogspot.com/ Another weekend down in Cornwall to be part of the run fest Mudcrew organise every January.  This time it was for the 50 miler, so the start was...

Read more

The Arc Of Attrition, A.K.A. That Horrib…

The Arc Of Attrition, A.K.A. That Horrible Pendeen Slog

Written by Adrian Busolini - https://www.thetrailexplorer.co.uk/ Over the years, I’d heard various rumours about how tough the Arc was. I knew nothing about the race itself though. I had assumed it was...

Read more

OMM Kamleika Jacket

OMM Kamleika Jacket

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I owned a Kamleika jacket from the OMM around a decade ago. In fact, I also owned the Kamleika trousers too. The jacket was nice...

Read more

Kahtoola EXOspikes

Kahtoola EXOspikes

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC Years ago, tired with either not being able to go running or sliding around like mad when the temperature plummeted, I purchased a pair...

Read more

2021 Ultra Trail Snowdonia 50 Race Repor…

2021 Ultra Trail Snowdonia 50 Race Report

Written by Alec Burns - https://uphillalec.substack.com/ Location: Capel Curig, Wales Time/Date: 9am, 11 September 2021 Distance: 50.38km (by my watch) Elevation Gain: 3,438m/11,279ft (by my watch) Map of the course from apexrunning.co Elevation profile from apexrunning.co For my first ultra distance race...

Read more

Avoalre socks (plus discount code)

Avoalre socks (plus discount code)

Avoalre recently contacted me asking if I would like to test their new socks. I hadn't heard of them, which is probably as they have no other running products in...

Read more

Lon Las Ultra 2021 – not all DNF’s are e…

Lon Las Ultra 2021 – not all DNF’s are equal

Written by Richard McChesney - http://richardwalkslondon.com/ “I don’t remember there being a castle in Adelaide” I thought to myself as I realised I was walking beside a castle having found my way...

Read more

Ultra Trail Snowdonia 165

Ultra Trail Snowdonia 165

Written by Tremayne Dill Cowdry - https://dill-runs.blogspot.com/ As UTMB drew closer the uncertainty was doing my head in. Would we be able to travel? Will the race be able to enter other...

Read more

Brave, bruised… Me

Brave, bruised… Me

Written by Kim Cavill - https://www.cavillcoaching.com/ After about three years of only entering and running trail races, vowing that ‘technical’ routes were my nightmare, last weekend I found myself clinging to what...

Read more

RACE REPORT: LAKES IN A DAY

RACE REPORT: LAKES IN A DAY

Written by Gavin Pittman - https://marsdenracers.co.uk/ The race in my happy place and my first blog. With Fellow Marsden Racer Team Mate, Jon Edwards The race started with the usual anxiety - packing my...

Read more

Montane Gecko Ultra V+

Montane Gecko Ultra V+

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC When I first saw pictures of the new vest from Montane I was excited! The Gecko Ultra V+ is incomparable to Montanes other vest packs which...

Read more