North Downs Way Ultra Training Run

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Alarm goes off at 4:30am, I get out from the cosy insides of my tent (I’ve been sleeping outside for almost 2 weeks). I’m preparing myself for the Appalachian Trail by simulating the sleeping conditions, whilst out in America on the trail I will sleep in a tent every night for 40 nights.

I miss the first Train by seconds, so take the bus to the Victoria station in London. I miss the connecting train by seconds also, is this day against me already. I arrive 30 minutes later than expected, no biggie. The North Downs way national trail is now under my feet. Cloudy skies above and wind pushing me backwards.

I start running, right away I’m faced with a big hill covered in mud, I proceed upwards with my Leki Micro Trail Race poles. Eating banana and dates as the first 30 minutes has passed. I start to feel alive as nature casts its spell on me, green all around and trees noisily moving in the wind.

I ‘ve run 15 miles now and it’s taken me 3 hours, I turn around and head back towards the direction I just came from. Today is what’s called an out and back run. I trip on a root but catch myself before hitting the ground. My legs have blood on them I’m covered in mud but I’m in my happy place.

I stop and talk to a runner I passed on the way out, he tells me about his up and coming race with Centurion Running, he will run the South Downs way 50 mile in 4 weeks. Today is his long run of 28 miles, I say good luck and carry on. I run down a big hill, slipping and sliding due to mud but I stay upright as I reach the bottom.

I’m already back at Merstham train station, 6 hours has passed but it could be 6 minutes, trails running does that to me. I loose myself.