This weekend is my 70km ultra marathon across Goeje island. I’ve been preparing for the past few months for this race, yet still feel woefully underprepared, although I doubt many runners go into their first ultra feeling ready. I have no idea how my body will react as the hours tick by.

I was trying to figure out a time to try and aim for during my race. I’m normally pretty accurate in figuring out what pacing I can keep up. I got both my half and full marathon times within 10 minutes of what I had predicted. So I looked at my training paces, thought about how my body tires over time, tried studying the route from various maps and estimated that finishing within 10 hours of the start seemed doable. So that was my initial aim.

Then whilst searching for a comprehensive packing list on the website I managed to come across the race results from last year and found that out of all the competitors only one finished sub 10. I thought, ‘maybe it’s because it was the first year, no decent runners entered it?’ Or maybe I’ve underestimated the route. Then I stumbled across the trail on another trail marking website..

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Maybe I’ve underestimated it a bit. Pretty much constant climbing and descending. It’s going to make for a fun day and having now seen the finishing times my main aim is to finish and around 12 hours would be fantastic.

I have inspiration from my uncle who finished his 100km in 15 hours the other weekend and I’ve been burning through ‘Born to Run’, a barefoot running book he sent me, this week. The insane distances serious ultra runners complete makes my 70km seem a walk in the park.

My run starts at 2am on Saturday morning to get you going without the heat of the day. I haven’t been able to fit in any night-time trail runs up until now, so I went to do one to give me a bit of an idea what to expect.

This turned out to be the most terrifying run of my life.

I cycled the 6km out to the start of a trail into the hills, locked my bike at the bottom and flicked on my headtorch with flashlight in hand. I turned on my music and started on the climb up through the woods becoming quickly swamped by darkness as the trees wrapped around me and any light from the city/sky covered.

Now this is a trail that I’ve done many times in the day, but at night it becomes a different monster. I’ve just finished watching American Horror Story and also Luther (grisly serial killer detective drama) – so maybe my mind isn’t in the right place to be going solo into the woods, but I was definitely trying focus on just the music and the trail rather than my surroundings.

The light was playing tricks with my eyes, shadows appearing like they were moving just off the edge of my light. The blowing breeze moving branches and blowing leaves across my path leaving me very jittery. This is an idea of what I could see as I ascended.

Coming across the makeshift workout area – a clearing half way up the hill looked more like a body storage area and I definitely didn’t stop to take any pics whilst heading through the gravesite.

I reached the top a little bit quicker than I had planned to – the frights powering me on. Once at the top the views were beautiful and just a gentle hum from the city reaching my ears. The darkness of the hills around me then the outer ring of light – it made the scary climb worth it. I descended also pretty quick and realised that to ensure I finish on Saturday I just need to stay frightened for the entirety.

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