St Bega’s Ultra (SBU35)

Julie Dumpleton sends this report from the St Bega’s Ultra:

Following the inaugural running of the Claremont 35, it seemed only right and proper to “try an ultra”!. Thus it was that four slightly nervous but excited first time ultra runners arrived for registration at the SBU35. Nina, Mary, Elaine (now Elswick) and I had decided to give it a go!!

The St Bega’s Ultra is a largely off-road 36 country mile point to point trail race from near Keswick to the coast at St Bees designed for beginners with a long cut off of 12 hours and plenty of support.

We registered on Friday, the mandatory kit was checked and we collected our detailed road book (containing step by step instructions to support the maps for the novice navigator) as well as the timing chip. Reassurance was also available from the organizers and other runners!

Saturday 4.30 am, the big day arrived. Time to get organized! A bag for the run, a bag for the middle, a bag for the end and a bag for everything else!! Off we went to board the bus for the start!
A short walk from the bus to the start in Dodd’s Wood near the osprey viewing point and we were off. A drone was there to capture the moment as well as our very own supporter, Marie. 143 starters, all ages shapes and sizes but all providing a sense of camaraderie, setting the tone of the whole event.

The first leg was a combination of trail, grass and a slippery steep descent, putting quads to the test straight away. The sun shone as we made our way along the lakeside at Derwent Water.  Nina had a close encounter with a bog but at 11 miles we were at Checkpoint 1 providing flapjack, peanuts, malt loaf and sweets as well as water.

The second leg was the toughest incorporating a long climb up to the Honister slate mine. I was thinking what goes up must come down, gearing myself for some running instead of plodding.  I was to be thwarted however, as the steep downhill was even more difficult due to the rocky terrain.  It was a long 11 miles but rewarded by the stunning view on such a clear day from the top of Honister. Checkpoint 2 provided sausage/jam sandwiches, custard and more flapjack!

The third leg started well with a trail through the peaceful Ennerdale forest and then along the lakeside. Just as you thought it was safe, another grueling hill appeared (known locally as Bummer’s hill) but we could see the sea from the top. Mary decided to take a closer look at a bramble bush (now you see her, now you don’t!) but luckily a few scratches were the only injuries.  The final checkpoint arrived with more flapjack and the ubiquitous Marie!
The final jog/walk to the sea was a triumph for camaraderie.  We had teamed up with some other runners and kept each other going for the last push.  A flying finish holding hands in a long line and the 37 (some say 39) miles was done in 11 hours (Nina and Elaine were a little ahead with 10.45).  The goodie bag was awesome with a technical t shirt and merino wool socks.  In addition there was fish and chips and a pint provided.  Each medal was unique as they are made from pieces of slate from the Honister mine.

Oh sorry, not quite finished, there was also a plunge afterwards into a deliciously cold Irish sea!! A perfect end to a perfect day.

We would like to say a special thank you to Marie for her extra special support!

In summary, a fantastic first ultra, friendly, well organized and supportive with stunning scenery and a great bunch of people. What better way to spend your Saturday?