Winter Cross Ultra – A Festive 50k

[Photo credit: johnybravo1968 on Instagram]

I signed up for the Winter Cross Ultra a couple of weeks after finishing the Wendover Woods 50 on November. I’d been considering it for a few weeks but wanted to see how I felt after WW50 and decided to give it a go as it provided a perfect opportunity to work off some of the festive feasting/excesses, run on the South Downs Way again, and see how my fitness is ahead of a big year of running.

This was my first Second Wind Running event and I highly recommend it. The race organisation was excellent, the volunteers friendly, and the aid station food was great. Pizza, Oreos and Haribo at the turnaround point of leg 3, when my legs were tiring and my va-va-voom had go-go-gone, was a highlight!

Rather than recall the details of my race as it unfolded, here are some reflections:

Nutrition

  • I didn’t have a pre-race 33Shake shake but went for malt loaf instead – I should stick to the shakes for more sustained energy in the early stages
  • 33Shake gels and Chia Charge flapjack bars worked a treat yet again – but I still fell behind with nutrition and didn’t eat enough

Pacing

  • I started out at a steady pace (average 10 min/mile) and didn’t get carried away
  • I managed to maintain a reasonable pace (for me) over the race as a whole – despite a few too many waking breaks on leg 3

[On the return part of leg 2, just before Old Winchester Hill. Photo credit: Tim and Daena Vincent]

Mind

  • I maintained a much more positive state of mind for the majority of the race – resetting much more quickly than I managed at WW50
  • On leg 3 I walked for a bit longer than needed as my energy levels dropped and my legs tired – but I stopped myself from walking and kept running more times than I stopped running and walked

Route

  • The Meon Valley Trail (a disused railway line like the Hayling Island Billy Line) is flat and dull – but a good first 5 miles to warm up the legs
  • I’d forgotten how much fun running on the South Downs Way is – the climbs up Old Winchester Hill and Beacon Hill were rewarded with some fun downhills

[Selfie by the garage near Meon Valley Spring on leg 2 – I love this message]

[Photo credit: johnybravo1968 on Instagram]

[Photo credit: johnybravo1968 on Instagram]

Overall, I’m happy with my race. Given that I hadn’t run further than 10 miles since WW50 and had over indulged in the previous two days (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) I’m delighted. I was hoping that I might manage to get it done in around six and a half hours so to finish in 6h24m was great. Fantastic bling too. A good day in the running office and another confidence builder ahead of 2019.

I’m sure I’ll be back up do another Second Wind Running event. This one is highly recommended. There is a 45 mile option but I decided 50k would be enough for me.