The UK Trail Running Championships Stort30 is a 30 mile race, which is around 48km in new money. It just scrapes into the ultra category as far as I am concerned. The course runs 15 Miles out from Bishops Stortford along the River Stort and back again.
Back to Back Marathons
Having run the Beachy Head Marathon the day before, I went into the Stort30 intrigued as to how my legs would cope. I had never run back to back marathon distances so this would be an interesting test.
I was excited to discover that the race was also part of the UK Trail Running Championships. Apparently there are three races; a short, medium and long distance race. The Stort30 is the medium distance championship race.
Bishops Stortford Running Club
Having ditched my electric vehicle in favour of borrowing Richard’s car, I made it up from the Sussex coast, round the outside of London and into Bishops Stortford in good time. It was a clear, bright and crisp morning but there was definitely a chill in the air. Most people were huddled inside the small running club HQ building, which is where Race Director, Lindley, delivered his briefing.
I decided that due to the conditions, I would wear my jacket to run in. It’s a decision I often regret once I start but I continue to do it! I also decided that I would set off with a goal time of around 4 hours 40 minutes. Not too slow but slow enough to enjoy the run and allow my legs to get a feel for back to back racing.
UK Trail Running Championships
We started by running twice round the field before heading briefly through the town to reach the river. From there on it was riverbank running all the way. I chatted and filmed as I went and enjoyed the added bonus of not having Richard to catch up ahead!
Annoyingly, I kind of forgot that I was running in a UK Trail Running Championship race and as I approached the turn I decided to count the runners as they came back in the opposite direction. Usually in a race like this, i.e. a small, friendly, trail run, I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll be somewhere in the top 20 or 30 and occasionally in the top 10. So I was a little surprised to count some 55 runners ahead of me at the turn.
Feeling Better and Better
I couldn’t work out why I was so far back. Perhaps I was more tired than I realised from the marathon the day before. But I was running at a decent pace, without killing myself. Five minutes per kilometre is five minutes per kilometre whether you’re tired or not.
As the Stort30 progressed I felt better and better. I started to feel like I might be able to do this without capitulating. Unfortunately, by the time I realised this it was too late to challenge for a decent finishing position. But I pushed on regardless. Running past barges and canoes on the river; crossing lock gates and pretty bridges I found myself passing more and more runners. Others were tiring and I seemed to be getting stronger.
Age Group Placing
My initial goal time was 4:40 but I knew if I kept up the pace I was doing, that I could possibly get in under 4 hours 30 minutes. I was certainly feeling it in the final 3 miles and trying to film too made it more difficult. But I sprinted as fast as I could go on the return lap of the field and crossed the line in 4:29:46 in 36th place. I had made up 19 places in the second half of the race.
Even then I hadn’t remembered it was the UK Trail Running Championships and when I was presented with two medals, I had to ask what the second one was for. “That’s a Championship medal for coming second in your age category” said Lindley. Only then did I realise and remember.
I suppose my main focus was to produce a decent film for Lindley and Challenge Running of the Stort30 race. But I couldn’t help thinking that if I had been fresh, and focussed on the UK Trail Running Championships, I might have got an age group winners medal. The guy who was first in my age group was 10 minutes ahead of me.
That said, I was delighted with my performance in the Stort30, given that I had been filming and I had run a marathon the day before. 4:29 for 30 miles is not bad and, in fact, if I had run two more kilometres I would have smashed my 50k PB. It’s such a nice route. Dead flat all the way, if a little muddy and uneven underfoot occasionally. The river/canal is very pretty and doesn’t get boring to look at. It certainly lends itself to first time ultra runners and to those looking to run fast. I will try and come back next year to run it properly.
If you have enjoyed the Stort30 race report and video, please do share it with your friends, especially those who might be interested in running the event. Give us a ‘like’ or a +1 too and if you want to see more videos, why not subscribe to the Film My Run YouTube Channel. The UK Trail Running Championships are organised by the Trail Running Association in association with UK Athletics. If you would like to run the Stort30 next year, go to the Challenge Running website and sign up!
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