A few weeks ago whilst looking to fill an upcoming, empty weekend I came across the Apocolypse 100 from Beyond Marathon. I’ve done some of Rich’s events before and always had great low key but brilliantly run experiences.
As I’m on a bit of a ‘100’ bagging mission this summer it seemed the perfect fit and being based in Shropshire, I thought not too long a drive from Cornwall (never believe Google maps folks, they lie!) I’d planned to stuff this 100 into a normal weekend and not keep eating up my annual leave. So the plan was to travel straight up after work Friday, race Saturday/Sunday get a little kip and with the assistance of my lovely Wingman (and stay awake police), drive back again Sunday evening after a little kip.
So the event, a route based on the four loops of the Apocalypse starting in the very pretty Carding Mill Valley in Church Stretton. As you can see below, it’s a nice flat course ……… of course!
Saturday morning started very dry and warm with 32 wisened (ahem!) ultrarunners stood ready to take on the 100 miles of War, Conquest, Famine and Death loops on what was rapidly becoming a scorching day.
I started ok, nice and steady, quickly falling into pace with a few folk I’ve met (many times) at similar events. The heat slowed things down a little but I’d brought capacity to carry 2 1/2 litres of water in my trust Montane pack so hydration wasn’t a concern.
The first checkpoint (CP) soon passed and I started running with a lovely couple. We were moving well as we ascended up to Stiperstones when the first ‘only Shazza’ moment occurred. Chatting away, not looking where I was going and bam! I’m down on my knees. Not a skid, not even a fall, just a heavy descent to my knees leaving me with a couple of small but rather deep and dirty puncture wounds. No problem, lots of spare water, wash it off……..started bleeding, lots (think of the movie Carrie!) Eventually the bleeding stopped but as I had a hot, sweaty and constantly moving knee I couldn’t get anything from my first aid kit to stay put over it. Oh well, it had stopped bleeding so time to crack on!
The next section was less eventful, it was lovely to see a great friend and my Wingman both looking after us smelly runners at the next CP. From there we went out and did a 10 mile loop to return to the same CP. This time however……what a Brucie bonus! A half pint of the coldest, most wonderfully fizzy shandy I have ever tasted was waiting just for me courtesy of Wingman. Oh jeez, if I hadn’t stunk so much I could have kissed him! And there were salty chips there too, now that was a CP I could (should) have lingered at!
Pleasant running in cool woodland followed, I was running in a group of four by now and we were doing ok with the navigation and the company. Only one mistake was made and as we all stopped to regroup, look at the map and work out the way forward I had to keep shooing a fly away from my cut knee……
Mile 50 came and a descent back to Carding Mill Valley, the start point and access to all the clean socks, food and goodies I had left festering away in my oven baked car (the cheese blocks resembled pizza topping, pre-melted!) A quick change and time to see the medic to get my knee cleaned and covered.
I sat down to take a look at the gory mess of a knee myself and…….OMG……OMG…….OH MY GOD! There were three fly eggs in the cut! I was near hysterical, screaming for the medic to get them out of me,which he very quickly did, along with pouring half a bottle of stinging Dettol all over it!
Now suitably calmed cleaned and collected I headed back out with a slightly smaller group into the night for the final 50 miles. What a warm night it was too. That extra layer I’d out on against the cold wasn’t needed that’s for sure!
So the next 50 miles contained the dreaded corn field maze, the paths were well defined but just like David Bowie in Labyrinth, the farmer had had a real chuckle not joining them up to the stile on the other side of the field! From corn fields with maze like paths to rape fields with no blooming path whatsoever followed by green lanes so overgrown with nettles that taking a post race antihistamine was starting to sound more appealing than a post race pint!
Apart from the overgrowth the last 50 miles contained some great running along the woods on Wenlock Edge, in fact this was my favorite section of the race, it was cool and runnably undulating!
At the last CP the couple I’d been running with needed to take an extended break so off i went on the final loop on my own. I’d learned at this stage that of the 32 runners that started at least 15 had now pulled out! That’s a serious attrition rate and testament to what a little toughie this race is.
The final descent down into the finish at Carding Mill Valley seemed to take ages, plenty of time to plan what I’d be doing post race, shower, shandy, sleep and home in pretty much that order. Once the path leveled off I knew it was time to take the pace up as high as I could for a (near) sprint finish. Loads of friends there to see me in which was great and a super Apocalypse medal to add to the collection.
Post race admin sorted and Wingman and I head home without mishap or event. I did see a giant tiger in the field but that’s nothing to worry about is it?!
So all in all a fantabulous low key, soul filling weekend with great people in a great place. Would I recommend this race?
NO! I want to keep it all to myself 🙂