Ridgeway Challenge 2014

Yikes... I'm in.

Done a 50m in just under 12 hours, Got the Wall in June which is 69M but this feels a real step up.

Any advice is appreciated image



  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Is that Ridgeway 85 (TRA), Aug BH weekend?  Have had 4 completions so far so I know a reasonable bit about it.  Very well organised and amazing aid stations.

    An ideal first through-the-night race.

    Not sure if I can do it in 2014 since I've entered the Ring O Fire Ultra which begins 5 days afterwards.

  • I'll get some practise doing The Wall in June, so that's 69 miles and i've done a 50M so stepping up in stages but yes this will be my first fully through the night. image

  • Going by this thread, surely this should have been called 0-85 miles in 27 months?


    Though not sure you recover fully for Loch Ness so that might be in my favourimage

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    What was the 50-miler and on what sort of terrain?

  • 3 and a bit laps around a reservoir. (Ladybower) So very even track / tarmac, a few k on stony ground and hardly any grass running with round 4000ft of elevation so under half of this. So yes it was a nice intro to Ultras.

    Not like the ridgeway I suspect. I'm doing the Hardians Wall thingy in June so that will be good practise, at 69m

    i know I need to learn, and quickly, pointers I guess on what sort of terrain I need to try to emulate are gratefully accepted, and any other words of advice image i know it's often the little things I completely slip up on. 

  • It was the up and down that ruined me when I did this, think I was well trained for the distance but naive about the hills. They're not even that big but pretty steep in places and once the damage is done you're obviously in trouble. If you're able to run 50 and 69 then you've definitely got the distance. Look for marathons with about 2000m+ vertical or if you live somewhere hilly plot your own. A few of those and you'll be in great shape.

  • Cheers.

    I think my average runs have about 10m of elevation in them.  ooops! Think I may need to stray further from home at times image

  • I have three Goals

    C: Finish it.

    B: Would be nice not to be last finisher, but i'm realistic, and someone has to be.

    A: Get under 24 hours

    My A target is highly doubtful, as I had a look over the weekend 59 out of 106 got under 24 hours last year... 74 in total made it to the end if I remember.

    So fun and games...

  • OK Booktrunk

    As other people have said, the Wall and the Ridgeway are  races that require very different tactics from the Ladybower 50.  I am going to guess that you used some sort of time based run/walk strategy for Ladybower.  With these two races I would suggest that you walk the uphill sections from the start, while running the downhill sections and flats.  There are plenty of people on this forum who have done both the Wall and the Ridgeway, and they will be happy to answerer any questions. 

    If you want to get a bit more experience with hills and trails, then there are a couple of  hilly trail marathons in your home county in early 2014. The Belvoir Challenge has some stiff ascents, and I understand that the Charnwood Marathon does as well.  If you want some more hilly training routes around your home county, then I can help with that, as I have trained for  all of my ultras almost exclusively round Leicestershire. 

    The dropout rate with these events can be daunting, but you can get pretty good at beating the odds, once you know what separates the N% that finish from the N% that DNF.   

  • Thanks Ben. I'm starting out gently, went around Bradgate Park a couple of times on Sunday. Think until Xmas I'm going to stick with running around there a minimum of two laps each weekend as a gentle way of breaking myself into hills. 

    I admit that I'm thinking of doing the walk anything uphill method, but hey, let's see how I improve over the next few months. I'm aware I don't want to get carried away and blowup and run out of energy far to early.

    hopefully building up to quite a few laps without to many issuesimage

  • The course of the Woodhouse Challenge (map available on website) makes a very good training run for hilly ultras.  It is a 13.5 mile trail route, which can be replicated without treading on private land, with one minor modification.  You can then extend it out to 20 miles with a couple of minor changes. In my preparations for the Lakeland 100, I used two laps of the course as my longest training run. 

  • Oh wow. Ok I'll take a look at that. I'm going to owe you a pint or two one day image 

  • Although less likely to be a problem for this paricular event mud can be a real killer on the Ridgeway.  The first section to Goring can be incredibly hard if there has been any significant rainfall prior to the event.  After Goring the going is easier, but the chalk can be tricky if there is surface water.

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Yes, you'll need to consider shoes carefully, dependent on how wet it is underfoot.  A lot of the first half is in woods/around field edges and needs good grippy,trail shoes.  Consider changing to road shoes for the second half which contains a lot of stony tracks.

    Have some warmer clothes in the halfway drop bag for the night, including gloves. Gets very cold on the Downs, even in August.

    It'll be dark before you get to Goring so have one warm layer and your headtorch from the start.

    None of the hills are serious, mostly very short, and you should walk most of them anyway.  Smeathe's Ridge about mile 78 is long, grassy, and a bit demoralising, though.

    The CP cutoffs, apart from the first two, are very generous and I'm sure you'll be fine.

  • one of the things that attracted me was the frequency of the checkpoints. Bit of a comfort blanket. That might sound wussy, but first time fully through the night etc, it seems sensible to me. 

    I already know I am not a fan of camelbak style water packs. I utterly love salomon soft flasks. Got 2 and will get 2 more so if it's really hot can have 2l of liquid between checkpoints. So I'm slowly learning what works for me.

    trail shoes are something to look at I guess almost tempted to just find the cheapest pair of salomon trail shoes I can and just give them ago. Other recommendations gratefully taken onboard. I was going to say pointless... Just wear my older pair of road trainers, but I slid over twice in hardly any mud Sunday, so I'm thinking I might have to back down on that point.

    Still need to go and try on a waterproof top, between montane, omm and a few recommended ronhill tempest. 

  • Thanks for the trainer tip trex in my 1 ultra I swapped into new socks and a dry clean pair of trainers for the last 15m felt a lot fresher doing that.

  • Scratch that one cheap salomon trail shoe weights the same pretty much as a pair of the posher ones. 

    Will need to read reviews on different brands etc... Then probably ignore it all and find a cheap decent pair and hope image

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    Welcome to the never-ending quest for the 'right' off road shoes!

    I think I've finally found them for me - La Sportiva Crosslites.

    I forgot to say that - always take a couple of pairs of clean socks on long ultras, and foot powder to dry your feet.  Most events have a kit list which is enforced to varying degrees, but a waterproof jacket I would say is essential.  Less so the trousers - I hardly ever wear mine.

    If you don't have the skill currently learning to use a map and compass would be a very useful idea.  Saves hesitating at complicated track junctions at night if you know the bearing you need to continue on.

    This event has no waymarks. You follow the National Trail white acorn signs, as I presume you will be in The Wall.  (That's one I must do one day.)

  • You've plenty of time to experiment booktrunk and you'll be putting plenty of miles in, so you'll be going through a few pairs of running shoes so you'll know what works for you soon enough.  

    I've done the Ridgeway and Wall over multi stages - I will attempt the full 85 next year when I get a bit of pocket money to enter.

    One never knows what an English summer will throw at us weather wise.  I ran the wall in road shoes as it's mostly road - maybe only 15 miles or so is trail.  The Ridgeway, as has been pointed out, can be slippy with clay and also by the Thames it can be boggy as hell it it's wet, but if we have a dry summer, I reckon road shoes would suffice.  I ran the Ridgeway in one pair of trail shoes (over three days).  They were Mizuno ones.  

    But you have to find ones that suit you.  The running shop I go to, gets their selection out and you can spend plenty of time trying them on and going for a quick jolly out in the car park.  I know that's not the same as an ultra, but some you can certainly discard straight away.

    And as T-rex has quite rightly pointed out - try out different socks.  Really important.

    And clip your toe-nails!

  • Hi people,

    Back to thinking about this now as it's actually 2014 image

    I've got The Wall on 21st June 69 Miles so after that I have 8 weeks to up my training to levels where I can get around this.

    I was thinking of putting in a six weekend spurt of 30 Miles on the Saturday followed by 15 on the Sunday, and inbetween one midweek short fast run, and one or two other midweek runs, does this sound like it's a reasonable sort of plan? or is this way to low?

  • Actually if I had the money i'd pay for a marathon each weekend to build up my medal collection, but it's going to be cheaper to just go out and run image

  • I've been one of the peeps handing out tea at the Sparsholt Firs aid station so I get to see people at the point where we go, 

    "Less than a marathon to go!" image

    From the sort of things we see and hear:

    If you can, recce the course beforehand. 87 miles (only 85 is on the Ridgeway) is a ____ of a long way and you'll feel bad enough without doing extra. There are other events on the Ridgeway earlier in the year, the more of those you can do the better or just do it on your tod. YMMV image but even on 10 mile legs of the Ridgeway Relay that I've recce'd the week before I've taken wrong turnings, IN DAYLIGHT.

    The bit through Grim's Ditch is a bugger for tree roots etc and falling over in the dark sucks. Worth practicing off-road walking at night (head torch round waist or hips works better than on head, longer shadows see).

    This is also good practice for picking the right kit and practicing eating, which seems pretty important (blisters make people drop, being sick makes people drop, and we've had 2 folk with hypothermia in the past few years and that really makes people drop).

    Practice checking all the kit (people run out of head torch batteries or spare torches more than you'd think).

    It's really hard but don't see why you shouldn't succeed. Good luck... See you August I hope! 

  • Still haven't got a waterproof coat yet, but i'm pretty much decided on the OMM Kamelika probably a Smock, so i'll keep my eyes out to get one at a cheap price. Unless I find something else cheap image

    Thanks Fido.  Good info.

    I'm hoping to run through the night on a training run or two to get my head around it. Yes, not sure how often i'll get down to train on the course, but I really must put in the effort to try, as well I work down Milton Keynes on a Tuesday so I could possibly do some evening runs then on the lead up through summer.

  • Hey Booktrunk! Ive got one of these...


    packs down really well and is very very light. Ive done Race to the Stones which was 100k of the ridgeway. Totally agree with the stoney part and a lot of chalk! Really glad it wasnt wet!!

    One thing to be noted is that if it is hot get something like a Sahara hat to keep the damn flies off your neck as they will drive you insane! They drove me so mad that I took my buff off and was using it like a helicopter above my head! ha ha ha 

  • booktrunk - I wouldn't advise doing that distance for 6 weeks - maybe have a cut-back for one or two of the weeks  - maybe week 3 and 5.  It just gives your body a bit of a rest.

    And, if you can afford it, make sure you have a good quality sports massage or two in the last couple of months.  Or overdose on a foam roller.

    I'm officially entered for this event now, so looking forward to seeing everyone there.

    Fido - your advice is much appreciated.  And many thanks for your continuing support, it's people like you who keep these events going.


  • Richyla: Thanks that's the sort of thing I was wondering about re distance.

    regarding Massage, yeah i've started having a session monthly at Loughborough University, As running has pretty much taken over as my only hobby I don't mind paying for a MOT monthly with a physio if it keeps me running.

    Completely agree with your remarks about Fido image

    EDIT: See you at the start line, and the finish if you hang around for a loooooong time. image

  • You may know this already, but the omm kamleika comes in a woman's fit.  It's not stocked at a lot of places, so I didn't know, but it's worth looking out for. 

  • Hi personnel. Yes I saw they did a woman's fit jacket, I think I like the idea of the smock, but not sureimage really want to find a shop that stocks them, it seems East Midlands doesn't believe in running jackets. 

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    I've got the Kamleika jacket . I find it more practical to be able to unzip the whole thing.  It's best feature is it doesn't rustle and also it doesn't feel like a 'coat'.  Some say it feels clammy but I only wear it in the worst weather when you don't notice if you're clammy or not.

    Not sure about entering this.  I have run the last five but this year I've got the Ring O Fire ultra 29-31 Aug.  Should I do both?  Only 5 days to recover in between?

  • TRex: I guess the sensible answer is no, and save your energy. Unless you want to go really slow and treat it as a training run / excuse to chat to some people whilst plodding image

    looking online some places insanely seem to be charging less for the omm cypher jacket than for the kamelika , in every size but small, booo 


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