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Race Report: Bouddica Way Guided Ultra, 23rd April 2022

Race Report: Lou Barker shares her experience of the Boudicca Way Guided Ultra – Spring Edition last month with friends Naomi Course and Jennifer St Quentin, a 36 mile test of endurance from Diss to Norwich that runs roughly parallel with the old Roman ‘Pye’ Road and takes in the beautiful, gently undulating countryside of south Norfolk and the Waveney Valley.

“Why did we choose this event? Well, it caught my eye because my son had been learning about Boudicca at school, it wasn't a race, we didn't have to navigate and it was local, bonus.

My running background, a marathon 10 years ago, a few half marathons since and a middle distance tri last year, surely 36 miles of running is possible, all you've got to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other right? My training was going reasonably well until covid

finally got me about 5 weeks ago, I took an enforced rest week, had a good swim then picked up another throaty/cough thing so I think I had about 4 runs in the 6 weeks leading up to the event, not ideal but still I figured there was a support van so it was worth giving it a crack.

We met our guide Neil and the other 14 runners at Diss station at 9am, headed over the footbridge to dump our kit in their support van, briefing “if you can’t see the guide or another runner please stay where you are until we locate you“ followed by a group photo, ready ok for the off & someone said ‘where’s Steve?’ It appears we’ve already lost someone before we’ve even started!

Steve was located, he’d nipped to his car & missed us going over the bridge & thought we’d set off already. Half an hour later than planned we got started, the route headed out through a housing estate & quickly joined the Boudicca way trail, we regrouped at a pub after approx 8 miles, taking an opportunity to use their facilities although the bar looked pretty appealing too, it was clear that Steve perhaps after his earlier panic was suffering a bit with the pace of those at the front. 11 miles was our first scheduled meet with Hannah in the support van, providing fruit, tribe bars, crisps etc.

We continued on, the wind was pretty strong at times, at mile 18 and 4 hours in I thought wow this really is a long way and it's going to take a long time, our next stop was around 22 miles at a village hall, Steve pulled out here, turns out he'd done the Manchester marathon just 3 weeks before, we continued with me counting down the miles and strategy from Jen of 8 min run 2 min walk.

Mile 30 the next scheduled stop was a out and back point near to Caistor St Edmund and the remains of a Roman market town and capital of the Iceni tribe, I didn't actually take a look at the site, it meant taking extra steps & being further away from a snack stop at the van and all energy was reserved for the final 6 miles to go. Mile 32 my calf gave me a nasty little nip, possibly cramp, so I walked for a while until I dared run again. I think I was counting down every half mile by now.

Finally, we made it to the outskirts of Norwich and through to the finish at the station, job done. Including all the stops it had taken the full 9 hours. Group congratulation & medals exchanged, we picked up & kit & headed for food, I had a chocolate milkshake as I've been thinking about one for the previous 3 hours but struggled to find my appetite for the food - it's not often I leave food on the plate believe me, I wasn't too sure that sitting down to eat was a good idea either but my legs were definitely glad I did. We caught the train back to Diss to collect the car and head home.

The next day my calves were very tight but loosened off once I walked around, no niggles, no blisters (I sought expert advice from Leigh a few weeks ago).

This was a lovely small group, some of whom were experienced ultra runners who breezed through it and I know could have gone a lot quicker, I think I enjoyed it, sort of, I'm certainly glad to have achieved it but I'm not rushing to find the next one just yet, it's definitely time to dust off the bike now.

Check out ESCAPE Trails they do regular organised trails runs from 10k upwards”

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