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Wendover Woods 50 miler - Gabby Smart

3000m of elevation is equal to climbing Scafell Pike 3x from sea level, Ben Nevis 2.2x, or 80% of the way up Mount Fuji. But why climb something beautiful, famous, majestic when I could climb that over 5 laps in a small woods near Hemel Hempstead?

I signed up because Gildas said it would be a good idea. If you haven’t met Gildas, someone recently said ‘he’d make a good cult leader’ and I think that’s an accurate summary.

So with not that much training between my triathlon and this event, I turned up nervous and with a wet pack as my bottles had got crushed in the taxi.

To offer a brief insight into how I felt each lap;

1 - Oh this is nice, people are friendly, it’s very pretty here

2 - Wow did you try that homemade gluten free brownie?

3 - I thought I was sick of eating every 30 minutes but omg cheese sandwiches have never tasted so good.

4 - Okay I can’t be distracted that easily anymore, actually I’m quite fed up, why did I sign up to this? I don’t even care about ultras. This is STUPID.

Then I saw my boyfriend at the checkpoint and burst into tears, ate some more cheese sandwiches, and realised if we pushed it we could make sub 12 hrs so off we went again, in the dark, round the same goddam hilly hap.

5 - Gildas’s annoying race math got worse ("so if my watch says it’s this many km's to the cafe, (which was neither the start nor finish?!) and what’s our pace is the average of 2hrs 24 divided by 16...which is...What’s the square root of 175? So 8x 7…")

He was consistent with his constant cheery coaching tips ‘pick up your knees!’ Which was equally annoying but effective, as I would then pick up my knees, then despite being so many hours in and feeling rather fed up "Gildas I am on 1 PERCENT RIGHT NOW. I AM AN EMPTY TANK OF PETROL" somehow I was at the top of the hill, somehow we were overtaking people…

We crossed the line in 11 hours 54 mins and 7 seconds, nothing to do with Gildas’s math I’m sure but everything to do with his constant encouragement, reminders to drink, eat and to pick up my knees.

And 3 days later, when I could just about walk again, I found myself signing up to another one…!


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