Too many choices and crap at navigation. Need to be decisive and enter one!

I have a plan to do an little taster ultra in Feb. want to give it a try to stepping up the distance. Started the training but now can't decide which one to go for. I'm based in the South-East and have chosen a top 3, but can't decide on 'the one that I want'.

I need to get my arse into gear and just enter one. First one, LDWA Punchbowl 30, liking the price!!! Done the 20 and loved it. Beautiful round there and everyone was so friendly, with a hot meal at the end. But worried about getting lost, I really have problems with navigation. 

Second one,, The london Ultra, like the sound of this one. Is it marshalled, I've only scanned the details quickly and need to read it properly?

Finally, the Pilgrims challenge, just the one day, at the moment. This is the most pricey, and at the moment, I need to really reign my running expenses. But it looks interesting. 

Decisions, decisions. Just wish I was brave enough to say, yep, got my map, I can do this! But I just don't want to get lost in February in the middle of nowhere on my own.


  • never got lost on my own in an ultra.usually people around about the same pace even in the quiet low key events

    go for the one your instinct draws you to image

  • As seren says, the ldwa one will have a road map so if you can read there's really no excuse for going wrong, the London ultra I think is a Coleman race and they're pretty well organised as far as I know, as are the xnrg races who do the pilgrims. Pick the one which terrain suits you best and go from there, if you don't enjoy the running what's the point
  • Hmm cc, we're you temporarily misguided on last years country to capital? I think I came past you a couple of times in the space of about five miles before I went completely off trackimage
  • Daisy, I know how you feel. I'm doing LDWA Winter Tanners in January and I'm glad I've already done one run following directions (Dunstable Downs Challenge 20), because now I know how much time I'm likely to lose stopping to work out the way. I found myself running alone for most of the way on most of the ultras I've run this year.

    London Ultra is pretty easy to navigate - it's along the Capital Ring, so there are permanent markers to follow. I did it for my first one, earlier this year. There are just a couple of places where the marking isn't great, but if you decide on this one, let me know (post on here!) and I'll give you the hints needed to avoid problems at those places. Also, because it's permanently marked, and there are route descriptions available online, it's easy to recce in sections beforehand. Not the most scenic route ever, but there are some nice sections though the various parks & commons.

    Pilgrims is along NDW, also permanently waymarked, although I hope that like for NDW50 there are extra markings on the day...

    LDWA Punchbowl, yes, you'll have to navigate, so maybe not ideal for your first ultra-distance run (personally, I wouldn't have wanted to be worrying about nat=vigation the first time I moved up to ultra distance).


  • I am also crap at Navigation, I ran three Ultras last year and got lost on two of them (The Wall and Dukeries) both occasions met great people who helped to work it out, if ever I find myself actually knowing the route I'd hope I could help out so I wouldn't be too concerned they're a friendly old bunch. Incidentally Born to Run Ultra is in Feb and even I couldn't get lost there, it was 37 miles (40 in 2013) on cycle paths and Llanelli sea front.

  • I can teach 12 year old children to use a map and compass with confidence, in the space of an afternoon. 

    There is no reason why so many ultra runners should be intimidated by the prospect of navigation. 

  • Thanks everyone, especially EKGO, I feel completely rubbish about my lack of any sense of direction, so I am glad I am not alone. But this is something I need to take on, and get over it. I've refused to buy a satnav for my car, as I force myself to use a map. 

    Think it is just a confidence thing. But I have to be honest, I got lost on an out and back marathon this year as I wasn't paying attention. I just go off into a dream world, Definitely need to get my act together. 



  • Ben: I can use a map and compass. But when all you've got to go on are route directions, with no route marked on a map, and the route directions are not clear, and no compass direction is given, that's not a lot of use. And I've been in places where there's enough granite to make compasses less reliable than normal, which in combination with less than 5 metre visibility is not fun. And I also have no natural sense of direction, which really doesn't help.

  • Ben Davies 15 wrote (see)

    I can teach 12 year old children to use a map and compass with confidence, in the space of an afternoon. 

    There is no reason why so many ultra runners should be intimidated by the prospect of navigation. 

    I agree Ben, basic map reading is a doddle but being able to map read effeciently whilst on the run and in darkness, bad weather etc takes a bit more practice.

    I prefer races without navigation purely because I train to run as fast as I can over distance so that is what I want to test when I get to a race not my map reading.

  • Exactly, reading a map isn't difficult but if a route isn't well marked then having to follow one can really hamper flow. If I'm trying a new route I will always carry a map but having to stop to get it out when you're unsure of the way is a real pain. For many people, taking part in ultras means running a distance they've not covered before and that can be daunting without then having the constant worry of whether they're on the right track.

    I know when I did the Ridgeway I was quite uncomfortable over the 1st half having never done it before. Once I was on home ground I could relax and enjoy it knowing whatever happened I would always be heading in the right direction.

  • WiB, shawk: I agree with you both. On my three ultras so far, having recced the whole route in sections was enormously helpful on the day. Adding route-finding worries to trying to run 50K or 50 miles for the first time would have been unpleasant.

  • You also need to take into account how badly your brain works when you are it just me? I got lost because a group of us concluded that a direction arrow for one race "must" have been moved....................Drrrrrrrr.

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