When your Ultra-Marathon is cancelled but you run it anyway….

Over the past 15 months we’ve all got used to races being postponed; it’s become the absolute norm. There’s a glimmer of hope that something might go ahead but as it gets closer to the time the inevitable happens.

This was the case for the Pegasus Vale of Glamorgan Ultra Marathon (VOGUM). It almost looked like it might go ahead but sadly Pegasus had to make the decision with a few weeks to go that it couldn’t go ahead as planned and would be postponed until late August, when (hopefully!) events are able to go ahead.

Within She Runs: Cardiff there was quite a large group of women who were preparing to run the VOGUM. Training for an ultra is no casual affair. Marathons were run in preparation even. It’s one thing when your 10k race gets cancelled, it’s an entirely different story when your 40 mile race is pushed back 2 months! How do you reconcile all that effort you’ve put in? Do you keep training at the same level for another 2 months?

An intrepid group of 9 came up with their own solution. They would run their own 40 mile race, and affectionately name it the FAUX-GUM. On the 5th June they set out bright and early from Ogmore and ran the 40 miles all the way to Penylan Community Centre in Roath, Cardiff, the “unofficial home” of SRC, to be greeted by family & friends celebrating their achievement. To top it off they raised a staggering £1,987 (to date – donations are still open here).

So what made them do it? What were their motivations to run an ultra in the first place? Read as they tell us in their own words.

AMY

AMY
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
In early 2020, I was looking for my next challenge. I’d jeffed the Manchester marathon in 2019 and felt comfortable at the end (and walked halfway through Manchester after the finish to get the train home!) and wondered about Ultra marathons. The idea of a race that was about adventure and endurance instead of speed was interesting but I was still nervous about entering a race. Then in the course of a couple of weeks I happened to listen to a podcast with Nicky Spinks, heard a radio  interview with Anna Mcnuff and one Sunday morning She Runs run, I ran with Bernadette Mccarthy who told me all about Pegasus and how she had run the VOGUM.  My mind was made up and I signed up that day. Being able to start and finish from home, no cut off times and the promise of cake at the aid stations sounded a good idea.I also spoke to Gruby and volunteered to man an aid station at another race so I could get an idea of what it would be like.Training was going well until March when covid struck and the race was postponed until 2021.  However, I was still keen to complete it and several other She Runners signed up too.
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?

Before signing up I’d completed several marathons. During lockdown I completed a birthday ultra for Pegasus, several times around Roath Park with lots of She Runners joining for a lap or two.However during the training leading up to the VOGUM the longest distance I ran was 20 miles a couple of times, one of which was on trail with lots of elevation. I also did a couple of recces of the Coastal Path, which I found really helpful on the day.
How did the training go?
Apart from the false start in 2020, the training in 2021 went well. I signed up for a coach who sent me weekly plans for my runs. Until the end of March my longest runs were 10-12 miles but I was building up endurance with interval training, back to back runs and strength training.  Then from April, I increased my long run mileage, trying to incorporate trail and elevation, also jeffing different intervals too.
4. What was the best thing about the run?So many things as it was an awesome day! Starting at Ogmore amongst the sheep, lambs and bunnies, the stunning views and beautiful coastline, the sense of adventure and freedom, the kindness of the support crews and everyone who came to see us finish. Most of all it was running with 8 amazing women who supported each other from start to finish. 
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
40 miles is a long way and I think all of us felt tired or found it tough at some point during the run. The other runners were really supportive and positive and friends and family who support us were fantastic in lifting everyone’s spirits. I also recommend having a cup of tea en route ( Thanks Gruby!)
Will you do another?
Definitely! I’ve swapped my entry to do the RIDDUM in September.

KATE

KATE M
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
Ahhhh let’s just say it didn’t take much encouragement from fellow SRC friends… turns out I’m a pushover!!
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
I’ve done a few marathons in the last couple of years
How did the training go?
On the whole really well- I very much enjoyed exploring new trail routes with others also training for ultra marathons. Fitting it around family life was a little challenging, especially as the mileage increased. 
What was the best thing about the run?
The company of the eight other girls, the beautiful scenery, the overwhelming kindness and support and the glorious sunshine! And the rather emotional finish line!
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
Not getting to eat one of Gruby’s amazing brownies at the aid stop she and her husband kindly manned for us on the outskirts of Barry! I’m breastfeeding my baby daughter and she has various allergies so I’ve been dairy free for several months: the brownies looked incredible. Gruby and Mark has also bought fruit: the mouthwatering watermelon and fresh pineapple were an absolute tonic to the artificial, sweet gels!
Will you do another?
Well there’s the actual race later this summer but I can totally see why people get bitten by the ultra bug .

SAM

SAMANTHA
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
If I’m honest the main reason I entered the VOGUM was that it was 40 miles and I turned 40 this year so it seemed a great way to celebrate. Most people have a party I wanted to run an ultra! Also, Pegasus, who run the event, have a great ethos in that they don’t have cut off times. What could seem like a really intimidating challenge felt much more manageable knowing that there would be no sweeper behind me if I was struggling time wise. Finally, the race was local which meant that my family would be able to be at the end, which was really important to me.
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
The furthest race I’d run prior to our FAUX-GUM was a half marathon, which just seems bonkers on the surface of it. But get the right training plan and you can do anything. 
How did the training go?
I really enjoyed the training. It meant that I went of exploring places that I would never have considered before as the distances I was running in training meant that I could go further afield. I have to admit that during the final couple of weeks training when I was reducing my milage I really missed those long runs.
What was the best thing about the run?
The support we had on the day was beyond what any of us could ever have imagined and totally made the day. The support from our She Runs Cardiff crew was phenomenal. They were there ready and waiting with everything we could have wanted or didn’t know we wanted – thank you for the ice lollies! We pretty much had someone pop up every five miles to see if we wanted water or haribo. Without the support we wouldn’t have been able to complete the run.
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
This may be a bit of an odd one, but I didn’t struggle on the day at all. I had expected to ‘hit the wall’ physically and mentally but felt alright all day. Clearly a diet of cheese sandwiches and ready salted crisps agrees with me! I was very lucky not to get blisters as well as I think that would have made things far more challenging. 
Will you do another?
Absolutely – just don’t tell my husband yet! He needs to get over the training from the first. Plus we have the actual race in August as well.

SIAN

SIAN
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
I’m always looking for a new challenge and wanted something to aim for with my running. An ultra-marathon is a box I never thought I’d tick off but I’m so happy that I have! 😊
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously? 
A month before the event I ran my first marathon (unplanned and solo!) up to Caerphilly Castle, back towards Pontypridd and then returning to Cardiff. That was a great sense of achievement!
How did the training go? 
I didn’t really have a training plan as such, I just increased the frequency of my runs and ensured that I did at least two 10K plus runs per week. I also forced myself to slow my pace as I tend to start out too quickly and then have no energy for longer distances! 
What was the best thing about the run? 
I can’t really pinpoint one favourite thing about the run, it was an epic day in so many ways! But the thing that stood out for me was how much support we received throughout the whole day, every step of the way, from friends, family and our extended She Runs family, it was hugely heart-warming, and I can’t express how much it meant to us all. The scenery was pretty good too! 😉
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
The hardest aspect for me was running with an injury, I really wouldn’t advise it but I made sure I didn’t push myself too far and made contingency plans beforehand in case I needed to tap out at any point. Luckily it didn’t impact too much on the day and the continued support and encouragement kept me going.
Will you do another?
I’m actually doing the postponed VOGUM in August, so yes definitely! I’m also tempted to sign up for another next year…so watch this space!!

REBECCA

REBECCA
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
Mainly because my sister Kate signed up for it and I was worried I’d get FOMO 🤦🏼‍♀️ But also wanted a challenge to focus on to get through lockdown
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
The furthest official race I’d done previously was a half marathon. But we’d done a marathon as part of our ultra training.
How did the training go?
Great! Actually really enjoyed it! Especially the Sunday long runs! Went on some lovely new routes and really enjoyed the chats with Kate and Alex. 
What was the best thing about the run?
So many things to choose from but it’s going to have to be the support we received – it was phenomenal!! Not just from our families who were amazing, the support we had from the she runs group was incredible! So emotional when we arrived back in roath! Felt so privileged to be part of it! 😭💜
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
Getting the nutrition right (which I didn’t!) I’m not the best at drinking / eating on runs but managed ok on training runs. But on the day it was so warm I ended up drinking way too much and it resulted in me feeling sick from about mile 20. That made the rest of the run really tough and I felt so frustrated with myself. Pep talks from my family and my fellow fauxgum runners got me through it. I don’t think I’d have finished it without them!
Will you do another?
Yes!! Deferred my official race entry to next year so look forward to doing it all again in 2022!! 

ELAINE

ELAINE
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
I knew I would NEVER do this on my own – I know full well that I don’t have the mental strength for the long training. So it was now or never when I knew that others were signing up. 
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
I’ve run three marathons in the past (but the last one was 6 years ago and the other two were way before that).
How did the training go?
Mixed. I had a few niggles which completely destroyed my confidence. But I absolutely loved the training runs with the other ladies – just wonderful.
What was the best thing about the run?
One hundred percent the support we received from our She Runs Cardiff family, friends and the families of those running. It was absolutely beyond anything I could ever have imagined and I will never be able to say thank you enough.
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
Some parts were tough but the cup of tea at the layby in Barry was just the best pick me up ever! My ankle really started to hurt at Penarth but my daughter had joined us for the last six miles and I couldn’t let her down. The fact that she made me run (shuffle!) the 0.1 miles along Richmond Road so that I was running when I hit 40 miles was just the best.
Will you do another?
Not much choice if I want my medal (not sure it will be as good as the ones Amy arranged though?!). We go again at August bank holiday and as it’s my birthday the next day I may even wear a party hat!

ALEX

ALEX
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
I’m crazy! I love a challenge and I’d always said I would do an ultra one day. What better time to train than during a pandemic. 
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
Before training for the event the furthest I’d run was a half marathon. My longest run before the ultra was a 22 mile run. 
How did the training go?
Training was tough. I printed out a training plan and stuck it to my fridge but by week 3 I was already doing my own thing! Ultra training turned me into a morning runner. I enjoyed our long run adventures on a Sunday morning but I would always be nervous the night before. Hilly routes became the norm but I found it tough to keep up the momentum over many weeks. The best runs were the runs with company. 
What was the best thing about the run?
This is the hardest question to answer as there were so many best bits. I loved the route that took us over cliffs, beaches and through huge fields. Most of all I loved the company!
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
I found the middle section hard between miles 20 and 30 when we ran through Barry. It felt even hotter than it had all day and there were lots of road sections.  The amazing company of the ladies got me through the difficult sections and knowing that we were running to raise money for such a good cause – Kidney Wales. The fact that we had family and friends waiting for us at various points to cheer us on was a huge incentive- I will forever be grateful! 
Will you do another? 
Never say never!

KATE & REBECCA

KATE J
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
Through lockdown my runs and been getting longer and I’d been enjoying running for the sake of running and not pace.  After seeing some sign up, I knew I’d get FOMO if I didn’t as well – and it sounded like a beautiful route. 
What’s the furthest you run you’d done previously?
Before training started I’d run a handful of half marathons.
How did the training go?
I actually quite enjoyed the training – it wasn’t as intense as I thought it might be (although most of it was done during lockdown when there wasn’t anything else on!) and it was great doing the longer runs wit Bex and Alex and exploring new areas. Special mention also goes to Marie and Jane who helped me get out of bed for the early morning week runs 😊
What was the best thing about the run?
So many to choose from but I’d have to say the amazing ladies that we ran with, some who I’d never met in real life before the day, it was so lovely to start and finish as a big group and the encouragement was amazing.  I can’t not mention the support we had along the route though as well – the fabulous SRC ladies, friends and family that ensured we had all the encouragement and supplies we needed along the way – we literally couldn’t have done it without them! 
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
I think the hardest thing was the heat as with typical Welsh weather none of the training runs had been done in the heat.  Having support out along the route with cold water, ice lollies and sun screen really helped – ice cold water never tasted so good! (and a note for anyone running in heat – don’t forget to put sun tan lotion on the back of your knees!!). 
Will you do another?
Yes!  It was such an amazing day that I will definitely do the real event – I’m just deciding whether to do it in August or next year (but think I might end up doing both!).

SHARON

SHARON
What was your motivation to sign up for an ultra?
The first motivation was the route, it just looked so pretty. But then also to see if I could, and the sense of achievement. I always like to see if I can!
What’s the furthest run you’d done previously?
26 miles when I completed the Virtual London Marathon last October. I did that without training and although tough was achievable so figured if I can do that then with training I could surely do the 40 miles.
How did the training go?
I can’t follow training plans, I run because I enjoy it and the thought of running on a day when I don’t want to because a plan tells me to would never of worked, so the training was brilliant and enjoyed it as it didn’t feel like a chore.
What was the best thing about the run?
There’s just so many things. The scenery and the route were just breath taking, especially in the sunshine but ultimately the other 8 ladies. It was such a pleasure and it was just so much fun. Oh and the pineapple!!!!!! Courtesy of Gruby at the Barry checkpoint.. I had struggled to eat all day and I had one piece of pineapple and just couldn’t stop eating it, a definite must for the future!
What was the hardest thing about the run and how did you get through it?
The state my feet got in, in the first half. Luckily Zoe was on hand to sort them out at the halfway check point, but the pain for the last 20 miles was tough going. Also my inability to eat and the heat on the day. 
Will you do another?
Yes absolutely. As well as the actual VOGUM now on the 28th August I already have the Race to the Stones on my list for next year after missing out this year. 

THE FINISH LINE!

We are so inspired and proud of our incredible 9!!

Are you feeling inspired? Why not check out what races Pegasus Ultra Running are putting on next?

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