Ring O’Fire Ultra Marathon

Just back after my biggest challenge yet with a 3 day 135 mile ultra marathon around Angelsey called Ring O’Fire — I got my first DNF, only made it to 87 miles, and had to stop.

I absolutely loved it — pushing myself well out of my comfort zone and seeing what I could do, and already decided I’m going back next year to finish it. Such a brilliant event and so friendly from all the runners, supporters and volunteers, I can’t wait to get back and get it completed. To give a feel for how tough it was only 43% of runners managed to complete all 3 days

Obviously I’m disappointed not to complete the challenge, but it’s made me more determined to get back to the start line and do it again, and proud of how far I got. Frustrating that I caused most of my own problems through a few mistakes, but nothing wrong with learning on the go, just don’t make the same mistakes again. I got to spend time with some amazing runners / people and (hopefully) learnt a lot. 

It was a brilliant place to explore and such variety and so nice to get away from everything and test yourself.

Overview of the weekend

After the trip across we got settled into our great little room at the stunning South Stack, and we went for a quick explore round what I hoped would be some of the end of day 3 of the race and it was stunning. The next day we took ourselves off to the start, I’m still not sure who had the toughest part, me running the event, or Debbie who was supporting me and had to drive around the tiny roads of the island and pop up with food, drink and support , a very stressful job. Especially when dealing with a knackered and grumpy stubborn runner (sorry).

It all started so well, the first 15 miles were easy and great to get to check point 2, and then we found some hills, it was still stunning running around the coast, but the hills were relentless and there seemed to be no flat for the rest of the day, luckily as the day went on, I got to join different groups of runners and speak to many much more experienced runners than me, and I was learning on the go.

After a tough day of 36 miles, it was getting dark we found the second honesty book and headed off the coast path and into the town for the end of day 1, typically a nice long hill through the town to finish. Finally we got to the leisure centre finish line and the support was great, so many happy / broken runners (most were both).

So after a shower, some food and some camping in a farmers field it was time for the 5am alarm (although I didn’t sleep a minute and just ate snacks through the night) and Jonny Cash’s Ring O’Fire was belting around the campsite, and we gathered our stuff and trudged up to the start line.

Day 2 was always make or break in my head with double the distance and a tried body with too little food in it and no sleep we set off in the dark for a 66 mile trip to Aberffraw. As expected the scenery was stunning, and luckily after a few km I joined up with one of the runners who I met the day before and we ran together for about 5 hours, and it flew by (It turned out Hayley was the first lady finisher and a very experienced ultra runners with some great achievements including completing the Artic Ultra Marathon in 2019 (380 miles in 9 days)) — YES I was well out of my depth, but was loving it and felt great all the way to Ponnom Point at 24 miles….

Then we headed off to half way for the day in Beaumaris with a long stretch at sea level along the waters edge, and with the sun beating down, and my lack of food (despite eating all night and grazing at every checkpoint – and after the last one, I caught up with Debbie and managed to get some food in) was where I started to struggle — feeling queasy and sick I got into the checkpoint and had made my mind up to stop and call it as I wasn’t safe to continue. This was backed up by the fact that just after trying to eat — I then had to crawl out of the checkpoint and down the road a bit to go and through up for about 20 minutes ….Not good….

For some reason this woke me up, and after speaking to a couple of the volunteers, I found out I was a good few hours ahead of the cutoffs so I would try and carry on. Not sure Debbie was convinced as all I’d managed to eat were 2 jaffa cakes, 2 mini cheddars and some fruit sweets, along with a bottle of SOS electrolytes, water, and of course some Irn Bru.

Naturally the next bit was a massive hill, followed by several other nice hills as we made our way to the two bridges, again I managed to tag on to another runner (again much more experienced than me) and we made out way around the course, we got through another 2 checkpoints and down to 20 miles to go for the day and I was feeling good, and hopeful and starting to feel confident I would get to the end of the day

But then we were out in the sun for a while by the water, then a few more hills and I was really struggling again with the lack of food, and feeling sick again, so unfortunately with about 14 miles to for the day, I had to make the decision to end my race, despite several runners coming past and encouraging me to get going with them and get to the end

Really disappointing, but I was struggling, and it was starting to get dark. I was going into a tough navigational part of the course which was very isolated, and tough, and figured although I could probably make the cut offs unless it all went very wrong – I didn’t feel I could keep going for another 4 hours as I still couldn’t eat any food, and just as importantly I didn’t feel it was safe for me, or fair to the volunteers (or Debbie) to continue into the unknown area in the dark, so I made the right decision to end my adventure

Obviously gutted, and looking good as I decided to stop…. — but proud of what I’d achieved and I was already thinking of coming back..

The next day we got up and took a walk up to the route on South Stack and saw the first few runners come through — they all looked amazing and going so well, despite the fact they had ran about 125 miles in three day up to that point. We then headed down to the finish line

WOW — it was amazing to be there and see these incredible athletes completed this epic adventure, and especially brilliant to see quite a few of the people I’d ran with finish— so inspirational — and obviously made me even more determined to come back next year and get it finished (and cry alot)

I was speaking to a few of the guys who finished and the majority were on their 2nd or 3rd attempt after their own failures to complete the gruelling course, and the Race Director said I made the sensible call as a few years ago, a couple of runners got to the beach just after where I stopped got lost and had to spend the night wild camping on the beach ….Safe to say I can’t wait to go back

Just need to get round the brilliant and very different Great North Run this weekend, I finally get to wear the blue MS Trust top again, it was packed and ready for day 3, but I didn’t make it that far

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