The 'Deangate turns Meangate' race is an overnight trail endurance race consisting of 2.5 mile laps of Deangate Ridge Sports Complex in Kent. Unfortunately, this was the one and only edition of this event as the site of Deangate Ridge has now closed.
The weather was cold, wet and windy. Combine all that with the fact the event was through the night and it was still my idea of a walk in the park. Although not so much for my girlfriend who sat in a tent freezing cold all night to support and act as pit crew for me!
The race started at a fairly fast pace. This was my first ultra marathon and I had decided to do 10 miles at a time before pitting for food and a hot drink. The first 10 miles I did in under 2 hours; I realised at this point I was going way too fast!
The most challenging part for me was the boredom of doing laps. One part of the lap went on for around a mile and I can only compare it to the stretch of the M20 going from Maidstone to Ashford. Yes, it really was that boring! However, this was part of the challenge and I had to find a way to deal with it. Singing to myself, listening to music, trying to establish the meaning of life, they all happened at some point.
At the start of every lap there was a ridge that was very windy and cold! I layered up for this every lap so as not to get too cold, forgetting every time it was only half a kilometre so had to take my jacket off every time I came of the ridge from getting too hot! The Katy Perry song 'Hot And Cold' springs to mind!
What I found a little odd was people turning up to do 30 miles then going to sleep in their tent for a few hours before doing “the big push” for the last 2 hours. Saving energy is one thing but they fell well down the pecking order. I decided not to sleep, but I knew how I was feeling after 6 hours- tired cold, aching and in a fair bit of pain- so I walked for the majority until the last 2 hours when I jogged again.
The best part of the night was around 3am when a group of around 6 runners, the real ultra-runners I called them, came past me with a speaker blasting the song “Red Red Wine”. It was awesome as we all sang at the top of our voices and it was such a lift to spirits.
I ended up finishing 31st out of 150 runners covering 40 miles, not bad for my first ultra!
I will definitely be looking to do more ultras in future, I think night ones are my thing, there is an aura of running at night that I find calming.
Next up for me…..Europe's Toughest Mudder – Midlands May 2018
About the author: Scott Gray is a personal trainer and Sundried ambassador.