By the time the 22nd March rolls around Spring will have well and truly sprung and you’ll probably be enjoying a few Sunday chores, papers and pancakes or perhaps a spot of batch cooking.
Think yourself very lucky if that’s the case, because these two mugs will be running 31 miles. Out of choice.
Neither of us had heard of an ultra-marathon until around this time last year, when I gingerly, some might say foolishly, signed up for the most daunting challenge of my life and somehow managed to actually complete it. Clocking up 31 miles up hill and down dale on a balmy Peak District day, it routinely crossed my mind that I’d never get those painful eight-and-a-half (count ’em) hours back, but nothing matches the feeling of euphoria when you actually manage to achieve something you’ve set your mind on, whether that’s your first tentative run around the block, a 10k or a 100 miler (yes, these do actually exist). If only because you’re elated it’s finally over.
An ultra, variously dubbed an ‘über’ and ‘horrenathon’ by our friends Claire and Jo respectively, is anything longer than a marathon. Which, at 26.2 miles, is long enough. My first ultra came last June, idiotically before I’d even attempted a marathon (which happened later, in September, when Chaz and I completed 26.2 long miles in our old stomping ground of Nottingham).
Vowing never again as I crossed the finish line of the Intro Ultra organised by Dig Deep (how apt) having been roped into it by my boyfriend Jak – follow him here – I’ve somehow found myself training for another such ordeal but this time with the pleasing addition of my partner in crime, famed FOMO victim Chaz.
Canalathon does what it says on the tin. It’s a 31-mile point-to-point trek along the Leeds-Liverpool canal, starting in Manchester and winding up in Sowerby Bridge (the setting of last year’s Happy Valley, trivia fans).
To train for this beast, Jak has designed a pretty gruelling schedule that we have all three been religiously following in a bid to cross the finish line in one piece. Here it is in all its glory:
I do most of my running on the canal as it’s a hop, skip and a mile from where I live (I get on behind the Hare and Hounds pub in West End, Oswaldtwistle which gives you the option to turn left (once you’re on the canal path) towards Altham, Clayton, Burnley or right towards Rishton, Great Harwood, Blackburn and beyond). I am under no illusions that this gives me an edge over my fellow Canathletes. 31 miles is a long way and Chaz and I are steady eddies who top a 9-minute mile on a good day. We have had very realistic discussions about the possibility of actually coming last.
Still, we are gearing ourselves up for the challenge so watch out for regular training updates as we count down to the big day. This morning, true to schedule, we tackled a 16-miler along said canal.
Chief of team morale, Bernard the beagle has been fast asleep ever since. Weary legs and blinky eyes all round for this squad.
If you’re thinking of taking up running but lacking motivation and unsure where to start, we’ve got a post coming soon to get you going.
Trust us when we say if we can become runners, let alone über runners, ANYONE can.