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

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 shoes

Salomon S/Lab Ultra 3 shoes

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC Since Salomons first S/Lab shoes were developed for Kilian, the range has grown and been further refined each season. They are always lightweight, fairly...

Read more

My Favourite Running Gear

My Favourite Running Gear

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I’ve been running for a few years now, and I have tried lots of different bits of kit. A huge amount of stuff has...

Read more

A100 - Ash Hogg

A100 - Ash Hogg

Written by Ash Hogg Preamble Having been an active and reasonably sporty kid (soccer, hockey, tennis, squash, even a 10k fun run), like a lot of people I got lazy once into...

Read more

Cimalp 864 Drop Evolution shoes

Cimalp 864 Drop Evolution shoes

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I, like I imagine most people who read this, often find myself checking out other people's shoes. It’s not really a conscious thing. I...

Read more

Polar Grit X Watch

Polar Grit X Watch

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I first had a polar unit many years ago, in a previous lifetime before I was a runner. In those days I was a...

Read more

Pulseroll Mini massage gun

Pulseroll Mini massage gun

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I recently reviewed the excellent Massage gun from Pulseroll. I really liked its intense power, and how you could really focus on particular areas with...

Read more

KILIAN JORNET SETS HIS SIGHTS ON 24-HOUR…

KILIAN JORNET SETS HIS SIGHTS ON 24-HOUR RUNNING CHALLENGE

Salomon athlete steps down from the mountains in Phantasm 24 Project this November Kilian Jornet, the most decorated trail runner in the history of the sport and the man who summited...

Read more

Petzl IKO Core

Petzl IKO Core

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I have tried pretty much every Petzl headtorch over the past decade or so, and there have been many, so one thing I know...

Read more

Thailand by UTMB - Day 1 (Video)

Thailand by UTMB - Day 1 (Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U--AjbFCZjg The inaugural edition of Thailand by UTMB is going to end on Sunday 1st November 2020. This is the most challenging period in the world. Yet, Thailand By UTMB, hosted by Sports Authority...

Read more

Record breaking on the A100

Record breaking on the A100

Written by Debra Bourne - https://runningape.wordpress.com/ The 2020 edition of Centurion’s Autumn 100 was a very special race for me: 23 hours and 8 minutes of special. All my training over the...

Read more

Ice Ultra - Simon Dicks

Ice Ultra - Simon Dicks

Written by Simon Dicks - https://www.focusedrunning.co.uk/ It was the night before an early start to Gallivare, Northern Sweden. This being my third multi-stage race you may think I was calm and ready...

Read more

MELTING ON THE NORTH DOWNS WAY (NDW100)

MELTING ON THE NORTH DOWNS WAY (NDW100)

Written by Debra Bourne - http://runningape.wordpress.com/ I spent 2018 and 2019 running lots of marathons and ultras (mostly ultras) to finish qualifying for the 100 Marathon Club, which I achieved at the...

Read more

Pulseroll Percussion Massage Gun and Vib…

Pulseroll Percussion Massage Gun and Vibrating Foam Roller

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC For a 20% Pulseroll discount code, scroll to the bottom. Roller competition on the URC FB group here I think I am like a lot of...

Read more

Centurion One Community Challenge

Centurion One Community Challenge

Written by Ilsuk Han It was shaping up to be the worst of times. And we didn’t know it yet, but it was to get bleaker still. It was still relatively...

Read more

inov-8 TERRAULTRA G 270

inov-8 TERRAULTRA G 270

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC If you have already read the 'first look', then scroll down for the update. The first thing to notice with the TERRAULTRA G 270  is...

Read more

Petzl Swift RL Headtorch

Petzl Swift RL Headtorch

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC I have had many Petzl headtorches over the years and am generally very happy with them. They are not always perfect, but that is...

Read more

Review of the Rab Skyline range of cloth…

Review of the Rab Skyline range of clothing

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC When I received this pack of clothing to test, I wrote a 'first look' at all the gear which gives some info on how...

Read more

Coros Apex Pro Watch

Coros Apex Pro Watch

Written by Neil Bryant for the URC If you have a GPS watch,it is likely either a Suunto or Garmin, but there is now a new kid in town who wants to join and eventually...

Read more

Share This

Follow Us