The Country to Capital, now in its 16th year, has become well established as the season opener to the ultra race calendar. This year it took place on Saturday 6th January.
The route is a point to point race comprising of 43 miles through the Buckinghamshire countryside, crossing the M25 (by bridge fortunately) and then, after leaving the picturesque village of Denham, following the Grand Canal tow path for the final run into London.
Although not an early start – 8:45am – I got there just before 7:00am as my son, who dropped me at Wendover, had to get to the Kent Champs at Brands Hatch (where he finished a very creditable fourth in the Senior Mens race). The pub, however, was warm and I passed an enjoyable hour or so chatting about other ultra events.
The initial part of the route was lovely with lots of cross country trails through the Chilterns. Although wet to start with, the day brightened and it was a scenic, if incredibly muddy, run. The aid stations were fully stocked and the event well organised.
Whilst I enjoyed the first 20 miles, I found the 20+ miles of the canal tow path both challenging and tedious. I also got very cold, which probably didn’t help. I was certainly grateful for the mandatory kit list, which had dictated carrying a base layer. Looking at my split times later, the final 10km was quicker than my earlier pacing. By this stage, I really wanted to get to the finish at the Stowe Centre next to the Little Venice Canal basin close to Paddington Station.
Overall, I ran faster than I’d anticipated finishing in 7:41:15, at exactly 4:30pm – so no need for my head torch! The winner finished in 5:01:29! I was 113th out of 356 runners.
I then had a lengthy journey home. My early morning start, combined with the strenuousness of the race, resulted in me falling asleep on the train. Fortunately, I awoke just in time! Ending up in Hastings would just about have finished me off!