Dukeries 30 race report

The week leading up to any ultra or marathon I like to rest as much as possible, but for some reason the week before Dukeries had not gone according to plan. I had been for a steady run on the Tuesday and this just seemed to zap me completely. I woke up on Wednesday not feeling at all well. No energy and very achy, I did wonder if I would be able to complete the race on Saturday. In fact I wondered if it would be a good idea at all.

I spent Friday thinking about what to do and decided to just go and have a steady plod round. I made the decision to take it check point by check point and if I felt really bad I would stop and finish there and then. Plan made it was time for a good night sleep, which didn't happen as Little Man has decided he doesn't want to wear nappies at night so kept calling me every hour for a wee.

4.40 am Saturday and my alarm went off. I had to run across the house to turn it off before it woke anyone else up, I had spent the night getting in and out of my bed to see to Little Man and at one point fell asleep sat up in his bed. I quickly got dressed, grabbed my breakfast and headed to the race start.

An hours car journey, the weather looked grim and I felt shocking. With no compulsory kit number collection was quick and straight forward. I had 45 minutes to spare until race start so I sat in the car and ate my breakfast.

Green race number 18 for Dukeries 30

I watched all the other runners getting ready around me, and slowly make their way to the start line. I figured I should do the same and headed the short walk to the village hall for the race brief. A quick but thorough brief and we were ready on the start line. My headphones were refusing to connect to my phone and whilst I faffed around with that the runners around me started moving. I walked and messed around with the Bluetooth connection and finally got it to work. I could focus on the race.

The first 3 miles are winding country track through beautiful carpets of bluebells. The vast majority of this is done in single file with no opportunity to overtake. It did get frustrating at times as you were running slower than you would like, and then at other points it sped up rather quick. I remember the next part from the brief, cross at the crossing please. The traffic lights had just changed as I got there and so I watched the pack of runners on the other side and waited for my turn to cross the busy road.

After a short stretch on the road the trail opened up and it was rather fun running through the woods. The trails at times felt congested as groups of runners ran down single file paths but it didn't last for two long and before I realised it checkpoint 1 was ahead. The 40 mile runners would turn off here for their 10 mile loop and the 30 miles would continue. 

I made a quick stop at the checkpoint and then continued. I felt really good leaving the checkpoint, the path had widened and I felt easy and comfortable. I had five miles to go until the next checkpoint. The sun was now out and I was beginning to feel the heat. I passed a few dog walkers and stopped to chat. Feeling thankful at several points that I had downloaded the gpx file as there were a few points I couldn't find the way to go. After a rather fantastic descent I had arrived at Creswell Crags and I knew that the checkpoint would be soon. 

I wasn't wrong either the checkpoint was ahead and I stopped for some melon and a chance to cool down in the shade. I was 12 miles in now and so far apart from feeling hot my achy symptoms hadn't got any worse. I left the checkpoint eating melon and feeling a little cooler continued. I wasn't sure how far it would be until the next checkpoint, I had in my head there was one around mile 17, so I decided to check. Mile 24 would be the next checkpoint 11 miles to go.

My luck seemed to be out. Every road crossing I had to stand and wait for ages for a chance to cross the road. Other runners would then catch me up and because they had not stood as long as me they didn't seize up as much. I was getting frustrated. I would run and find a person walking their dog and stop for a cuddle with the dog to cheer myself up. Run a bit more and another road to cross. The scenery was beautiful though. Woodlands and bluebell carpets. I hardly saw any other runners, except when a road crossing approached. Once again I was thankful for the gpx file as I almost got lost a few times in some farmers fields.

At mile 19 we turned the corner to run back through Clumber Park and a lovely lady was sat with her dog cheering us all on. I spent a good 10 minutes with her and her dog, she was so lovely and when I got up to leave the dog wanted to come with me. Running down the drive through Clumber Park was lovely. The trees providing much needed shade, although the heat was still there. I bumped into some Runners from Clowne Running club, they also had dogs, so I stopped again to have a chat and a dog cuddle.

Only a parkrun to go now until the next checkpoint so after a quick Instagram chat, I got on with it. I had hit 20 miles at 3:36, had I not stopped for the long dog chats I would have been 3:15ish I know because I kept telling myself to slow down as I was on for a 20 mile PB by quite some way. 

To get to the next checkpoint I had to go down the main road to the crossing and then run back up the road on the other side. I would rather be safe I agree, but the traffic gods certainly were not with me and it felt like an eternity before I could cross the road.

Over 24 miles in now or 38km it was time for a refill of the water bottles, grab something to eat and get moving again. Just over 10km left. The volunteers at all the check points were all really lovely and welcoming and I was surprised there was so much food, normally one of the back runners I don't normally have so much choice. I left the checkpoint knowing there wasn't much further to go and I could do this.

Once again I left the checkpoint eating, and continued through the woods to the farmers field. I felt really hot in the open sunshine and slowed down to conserve energy for the last part of the race. I was beginning to feel rather ill but tried my best to ignore it. I hadn't the energy to run across the farmers field, the spongy mud was energy zapping and that perhaps was my mistake.

The next five miles were really hard work and I was grateful for the lost horse rider at mile 25/26. I stopped to chat to her and help her back on her way. A farmer, who I get the feeling was annoyed by runners, decided to make me wait at the side of his track and each time I started to move he would drive the tractor back towards me, I would stop and so he would stop. Eventually I managed to get past him and was on my way again. 

Blue sky, green field landscape

By mile 27 the leaders of the 40 mile race started appearing. They were incredibly quick and I was in awe of them. The leading lady was storming past, I couldn't believe her speed and not far behind her the second lady came through. She was incredibly lovely and seemed to be really enjoying herself.

More dogs and I sat down on the mud next to them as I chatted to the owner about canicross and ultra running. Lots more runners ran past me and I realised I had been sat there for 15 minutes. I thought I had around 2km left as I thought we finished around 48km. So continued running along the edge of the field towards the housing estate in front.

I saw the sign at the bottom of the field which turned us back to run along the edge, and thought it strange we were running on the inside of the hedge and the field rather than on the road. Turns out that the finish is actually on the other side of the hedge but you have to run a small loop to make up the miles. Down a footpath and along the side of the chicken farms. The chickens all seemed to be enjoying themselves in the grass and dirt. I was laughing at the patches in the fence where the farmer had clearly been round to fix the holes. My watch beeped 48.8km and I thought this was how far we had to run and I was now hoping it would not be much further.

A sharp left turn to run along the other side of the chicken pens, and a slight uphill. I had three lady runners behind me who had overtaken me when I was playing with the dogs and I now wanted to keep them behind me. I pushed on, down the side of the chicken pens before making another left turn.

I begin to recognise where I was. I could see the cars parked in the farm yard. The trees lined the sides of the road and in front a group of people. That must be the finish, it had to be. Sure enough it was, I had finished. Official time 6 hours and 17 minutes. I was outside my target time of 6 hours but I had spent rather a lot of my time playing with dogs and chatting at aid stations. I was the 18th female out of a field of 55 and 1 hour 29 minutes behind the winning female. 

I made my way to the village hall to collect my medal and t shirt. As always with Hobo races the medals are personalised which is a nice touch. A warm mug of soup waiting for me and I chatted to the lady from the 40 miler for a little bit. I checked to see if it was ok to move the car and once safe to do so I made my way back to the car. My legs ached, my ribs bruised from having my phone in the wrong pocket and I still felt ill but I had done it. 

Dukeries 30 is a really beautiful route and the whole time I was thinking this would be a perfect ultra for those wanting to run their first ultra. Checkpoints are well stocked, volunteers really friendly and there is no required kit, well apart from a phone. The route was well marked, but I am glad I downloaded the gpx file as a few points I almost got lost and the hills are minimal. I know I could do the route a lot faster, but I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it anywhere near as much. I loved stopping and chatting and cuddling all the dogs on the route and to be honest I wouldn't have done it any different. 

You May Also Like


This day I love comments and I read everyone