Thursday, 8 May 2014

Preparing for the Centenary Way

My May challenge is to complete the Centenary Way, which is an 83 mile 'Long Distance Footpath' between York and Filey. Along the way the Howardian Hills, Castle Howard, Wharram Percy (deserted Medieval village) and the Yorkshire Wold are all taken in as well as a fair few other sites. There is a very comprehensive e-book on the route here. The route is comprised mostly of footpaths, bridleways and tracks along riversides, in valleys, agricultural land and over hills. There is also over 6000ft of ascent and descent along the way.

Terrain has a major affect on the difficulty of a long trail run, in that respect this should be quite "runnable". But the long distance certainly adds to the difficulty of this challenge. I've recently completed a challenging 50m route in doing the Woldsman last month. So adding an extra 33m to that - well over a marathon - can be quite daunting. I've taken on a few 50-60 mile challenges in each of the last four years, but I haven't gone longer that often. Which means my body, already very tired after 50m, could really start to suffer during the extra miles. Often the longer distances have beaten me, my feet start to fall apart, pains in joints start to occur and my mind really questions what I'm doing. 

Lets also throw in at this point that I'm running this self-supported - carrying all own kit, food, drink as no organised food-points as in events. And no other runners to offer company and support. The distance and extra kit weight also means that I won't be able to complete this within the daylight hours that May offers. So the added complication is that I have to either:
  1. start really early in the dark to finish before sunset;
  2. start in daylight and finish in the dark;
  3. or start in the evening, run through the night and finish the following day in daylight.
Option 3 might sound the least attractive, with more darkness hours run and missing a complete nights sleep. But this is the option I'll be taking as getting to York or Filey early AM and/or back from the other end late PM, is complicated and I'll probably lose lots of sleep from two nights rather than just one. And I've done runs before through the night, even one unsupported in a similar challenge to complete the 79 mile Wolds Way nearly 3 years ago.

I've chosen to start from Filey and run to York, which is unfortunately the opposite direction described in the e-book I linked. So following that might prove difficult when running. But I believe the route is sign marked quite well and I've mapped the route as I find maps easier to follow than written guides most of the time anyway. And after persuading Clare that this isn't madness and it makes sense to run through the night in this case - though I know she'll still worry - she has offered to drop me in Filey on Friday afternoon and pick me up in York on Saturday.

The online mapping tool I use, grough route also offers handy features so I can download the route to a format I can upload into my GPS (in case I get hopelessly lost) and automatic route card creation - here's mine. Confirmation from my mapped route that well over 6000ft up and down and 83+ miles. The 19:04 time is based on a guessed pace and could be completely inaccurate. I might not take that long.... I might take a lot longer than that!

So that's a lot of the logistics sorted. The next challenge I face will be packing the backpack. I hope to get all the clothes, equipment, food and drink I might need into my 12 litre pack. although as you can see from the route card I do pass through quite a few villages so I could restock food and drink at shops in these - I might even stop in a pub for a coke if its a warm day. But, quite a few of these settlements will be tiny and have no shops or pub! Malton may be my first restock option and that could be over 10 hours into the challenge (at least that might mean the shops are open; assuming I set off at 9pm Friday, the Asda opens at 7am, so I may be amongst their first customers).

Anyway, back to the type of thing I'll need to carry. Here's what'll probably be in the bag:

·         Waterproof jacket, water-resistant jacket and water-resistant over-trousers
·        Spare baselayer
·         Ibuprofen and paracetamol
·         Plasters and light dressings
·         Woolly hat, thin gloves and thick convertible mitts
·         Drinks: over 1.5l water in bladder, 500ml chia charge drink in bottle + more chia charge sachets to mix up on route.
·         Food for run: about 3000-4000 calories worth
·         Money
·         All in a Saloman S-Lab 12 pack

That's hopefully more gear than I'll need. The food and drink in their likely won't be enough as I'll aim to consume 200 calories per hour whilst on the move. So I'll have to supplement from a shop somewhere. Especially if I get fed up of the food I've packed. I pack variety to try and counter this and some food that I consider a nice treat, so I can use that as my "carrot" when needing motivation. I'll likely carry something like the below:

  • A few Chia charge flapjacks: original (378 cals), banana (357 cals)
  • 9 bar: mixed-seeds (277 cals)
  • Clif Energy Bar: White Chocolate / Macademia nut - not tried, sounds nice (240 cals)
  • Sandwiches: savoury and sweet (500 cals)
  • Banana (~100 cals)
  • various other fruit (~200 cals)
  • Chocolate: milk/dark - the latter is particularly good for a boost (~300 cals)
  • 2 x Chia trail mix (160 cals per pack)
  • Pasta in tomato-based sauce (~400 cals)
  • Gel - for a sugar boost if things get really hard (100-200 cals)
  • And although its a drink I'll get about 80 cals from each 500ml mix of chia charge, I'll probably get through 3 bottles of this.

The kit I'll wear has become quite familiar over the winter and spring months, something like the below:

·         Inov8 Trailroc 255 shoes
·         Drymax mid-protection trail socks
·         Ronhill tracksters
·         baselayer
·         Windjacket
·         Buff (pirate style)
·         Map (route marked)
·         Garmin 910xt (time and GPS)

So with all this taken care of theres just the small matter of completing the 83 miles!

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