10 reasons why the Country to Capital race is the ideal first ultra marathon

This year was my fifth running of this race. I assume I'll be getting an MBE when I hit ten.

Instead of taking you through a tale of more beautiful mud splashing and gorgeous canal I thought I would just say to anyone thinking of doing an ultra for the first time why this one is the best.

I managed to convince a few of my friends to do this one as their first ultra. At the end I got comments that ranged from "Thanks for getting me to do this" through to "Are you James? I want to kick you in the shins for making my son do this". 

But my shins are OK and I stand by my comment, I think the Country to Capital is a great intro to Ultra Running and here is why.

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The immaculate birth of ultra running

It was a blustery snowy night in the middle of the middle eastern desert in summer. Joe was still working hard in his workshop. Marie was in the lounge recalling a recently produced episode of strictly come stoning.

All of a sudden there was an almighty crash. Joe raced into the lounge to discover Marie looking pretty shaken.

"What happened" huffed Joe

"I have just had a visit from the angel Killian. He has inspired me to do an ultra marathon." "What the hell is an ultra marathon?"

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The end of the Piece of String

I was stood at the Swincombe checkpoint as Terrence went through. He was looking in great spirits despite the fact that now he was running further and further away from the centre of the race. I can't imagine what he was thinking. We started at Streatley, drove them 100 miles away and told them to run back, now we were telling them to run away. Could it be another 100 miles? More than that? Who knows.

Terrence came through before Ed Catmur who was running at a blistering pace in the 100. I missed him and the leaders come through as I had to go back to the start and pick up the drop bags of the runners who were going to run up this way and take them onwards. I returned to Swincombe and waited around to see lots of the 100 runners coming in. I got a few interesting comments from them such as "you evil bastard". Clearly they had seen some of the runners on their journey up these hills.

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How Long is a Piece of String Race report Part 2

"Leave your brain in your drop bag" - Rich Cranswick with probably the best advice for this race.

Continuing from Pewsey [read part 1 here] after James had left and a couple of things I forgot yesterday. Jackie had dropped at the 35 mile point looking quite crippled. She was so keen on doing this but had an illness in the weeks leading up to to and was not in good shape. She got a ride to Pewsey with Justin and was hobbling around pretty bad.

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Piece of String Race II - Part 1

"You know we should set up a seperate company name to do these events; for insurance purposes"

James Elson said the first part of that sentence. He didn't explicitly mention the last three words but I suspect they were on his mind. James through Centurion Running has built a well earned reputation over the last two years of putting on immaculately organised 100 and 50 mile events. His events have become the standard in Ultra Running organisation in the UK, filling up quickly with runners of all abilities, being recongnised as qualifiers for Western States and UTMB and often having people travelling from abroad to run.

So I am still to this day a little suprised that James would agree to stage my idea of a race. One where the distance is unspecified. One where the exact route is not known until 5 minutes before the start. One that prides itself in being "The world's most pointless race".

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