For almost 2,000 years this vast Roman construction has stretched across the wild beauty of Northern England, and is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Hadrian's wall starts in Carlisle and is approximately 69 miles (111 kilometres) in length, ending in Gateshead near Newcastle. 

One of the UK's most popular races on the ultra calendar will see over 1,000 participants run, walk and hike the expert one day event or the multi two day.  

Carlisle Castle 

Pick up this morning is from running buddy Tanya, who lives in this part of the country. Myself and sister Sam go through the itinerary for the day. Bosh runner Andy is staying just around the corner, so jumps in for a lift to the Castle. 

Today I am wearing Luna sandals with Injinji Trail socks and shall change into Earth Runner Sandals at the halfway point. 

Fantastic planning on laminate Tanya!

Usual race nerves and ready to begin...

BOSH runner Andy about to embark on his furthest race

My fantastic support crew for the day! Tanya and big sister Samantha

After a race brief we start by heading out of the Castle and around to the River Eden, following track and trail. Staying slightly back from the front pack I settle with the middle group at a 9 min/mile pace, and plan on keeping this up for the next 10 miles.

and they are off...

Miles 1-13 
Fastest pace/Slowest pace
8:43 9:19

The route meets a small country lane, winding through over the M6 and passing Black Wood. I chat with other runners and Colin, a friend of Tanya's, who has not yet run over a 50 mile distance. The route carries on to a check point at 10 miles in. I have some water and raisans before heading off again. 

300+ expert runners to finish in 24 hours

Miles 14-26 
Fastest pace/Slowest pace
8:18 11:53

Eventually after a few more miles I reach Lanercost, in 2:18:10. This is the first of four pit stops. Welcomed by clapping spectator's. It is a quick hello to my crew, water and a handful of raisans before heading on the move again. I tuck into my supply of salted nuts whilst heading out.

Views over Combcrag Wood

The path winds through rocky and scenic mounds before crossing some fields scattered with cows. The route eventually heads onto a small country road that leads through scenic rolling hills of Northumberland. 

I keep my pace below 9min/mile where possible and slow to a climbing march on the grassy climbs. After reaching 20 miles and over the River Ihrling, the road meets the B6318 in Girsland. The first parts of Hadrian's Wall can finally be spotted in the distance. 

Nothing like a few steps during an ultra

Following the markers. The track leads off into some fields then meets a cobbled steep decline, where I navigate carefully with speed. On through another field of thick wet grass, then a climb up some steps where I am greeted by a photographer. Not the best place to capture a shot but I can see why it was after the result below.

After a marathon distance my legs start to feel the burn but I still have energy left in them to pick up some pace for later.

Soon the rain clouds come, so far we have been lucky with just drizzle but now the rain is pouring and blowing in both directions. As brief as it started, it stops just as quickly and the slightest bit of sunshine peeps through the clouds. 

Quad burn

Miles 27-39 
Fastest pace/Slowest pace
7:32 17:36

After another check point and some water it is onwards along the Penine Way and the beautiful sights of the wall. This is what I love, the off road and scenery that come with. 

The markers guide us back onto country lanes, turning here and there until eventually the large tents and marquees can be seen through the trees ahead. This is the halfway pit stop at Vindolanda. I see more spectators cheering as I approach and spot a marshal, I scan my tag and then meet Sam and Tanya inside the tent for refreshments. 

Almost half way...

Hydration and a big kick combined

Halfway.... Fueled and ready

After hydrating with coconut water, a Naked green smoothie and strong coffee. I change my footwear to my earth runner sandals. They feel so comfortable immediately. Thanking my brilliant crew I make my way out scanning my tag on leaving. 

Scrambling to the top

Just around the corner and over a style the directions go uphill to the top. This is no small hill. The sharpest and steepest of the race. With wet thick moss and grass below it is a zigzag climb using hands to scramble to the top. Daunting at first but so enjoyable and rewarding once at the top. I enjoyed looking back at the other runners defeating this beast of a climb.

Once out on top of the moors I can pick up speed and fly along the track. A little too fast in places, the coffee seems to have down the trick. I feel great and my legs just roll smoothly on autopilot. 

No worries of getting lost up here

Miles 40-52 
Fastest pace/Slowest pace
8:13 14:19 

This section is rather hilly and with thick grass to add to the mix. It is a relief on my feet, along with the scenic sights of the wall, climbing over styles and through gates around the woods. I enjoy this section the most, even if I did get rather wet during a rain shower. I can see a few runners walking up the road ahead, I wish them well when passing. I pick up pace on the flat and downhill. I climb the steeper parts at a marching pace.

Another pit stop at last 

At the next pit stop, I fill up with some water and have some more supplies from my crew. Sam says I am about 25 minutes from the lead and only have about 8 runners in front. At this stage I am still feeling strong, but just to finish is my goal today. I am not familiar with the route ahead and know there is plenty of flat road to come.

Ultra runner ramblings

Out of the pit stop area and back along the trail. Eventually running on pathways and then the cycle lane. A few steep areas, I begin to walk while eating on pine nuts and dates. My energy levels have dropped suddenly and can feel my body giving up on the hard surface. The constant road is tiring my leg muscles fast. 

I trot jog, over taking a few ahead who are having walking breaks. The scenery by the River Tyne is a nice distraction from my lull. After a few miles I start to feel better, just enough to keep a steady pace going. 

The path leads through Corbridge, woodlands and high bridges over looking the river. A speedy runner over takes me here and I watch him hurtling ahead. I wish I had some of his energy right now. 

Miles 53-65 
Fastest pace/Slowest pace
8:44 14:54

The cycle path seems to go on for eternity and my walking breaks become more frequent in places. Until eventually I find a second wind and manage to pick my feet up again. The arrow markers take us through off the path into a camp site, then the woods, before coming out at a stream. I look across to see any signs of markers or other runners. I see someone up ahead walking through the stream, scrambling over the rocks. As it is warmer this evening and the sun has come out this is a nice treat to cool my feet. 

I chat to the support at the next check point and drink more water. They say I am about 6th position at the moment and not far behind. It is just a few more miles to the last pit stop. The cycle path carries on until reaching residential areas. The signs for Newcastle come up more frequently, reminding me how far I have run today.

Once reaching Newburn the route follows the A6095. What feels like forever, the last pit stop is finally in view. I have a quick strong coffee and some nuts, really not feeling the food and just want to get to the finish. The endless path and roads have started to give my left ankle some discomfort. I can also feel hot spots on my soles forming. I tell the girls I shall see them shortly and hope to be finished in the hour.

One of the many bridges before the finish

Miles 66-69
9:12 8:25 8:24 8:38

The time is now 17:20
Without any markers to lead the way I just follow the cycle path in the Newcastle direction. I pass a runner from ahead and wish him well. Weaving through housing estates, I can see the sights of Newcastle slowly creeping into view. 

The path soon splits over a bridge or to carry on ahead. Both are in the right direction but I decide to stay with the cycle path directing to Newcastle, in the hope the bridge will soon approach. The runner who over took is heading the other way but looks confused. He soon follows my path and we chat about how difficult so much road has been today. He has struggled in parts but is really suffering now. I stay with him to help him keep going. 

Soon enough the bridges and city of Newcastle comes into sight, my Garmin has already died and checking my Runkeeper, it looks like we have just 2 miles left to go...

I can see two more runners in the lead that I have seen on and off during the day. They look like twins. There pace has been strong but has slowed now. I manage to over take and the guy with me stops to a walk, he says he is ok and just needs to walk some.

The sun came to shine at the finish

I pass one, two, three then four bridges but cannot see the millenium bridge. The path is right by the waterside and spectators start to clap and cheer as I run past. What feels like 6 miles later, the bridge is in sight. 

At last, I pick up my pace as much as my legs can take and reach the bridge, more public stop to clap and cheer and then I can hear over the loud speakers, this is Luke Ashton coming into finish in third place, looking strong. I thought I was hearing things, I see the finish at the end of the bridge and feel so great it is the end. Pleased and proud at the same time. I am not sure how I managed to reach 3rd position and with the time I had planned I am rather surprised of my position. 

Although it turned out warmer after the rain it wasn't a scorcher of a day, to me anyway. My last ultra four weeks ago was in the heat of the Florida Keys. I later found out many suffered in the weather and out on the course, especially the hilly off road sections.

I finished just 12 minutes behind first place position.

Bosh runner Andy came in 15:34:38. Which was a little longer than he anticipated but he is very pleased for his second ultra marathon. Such a great result and amazing achievement in a short space of time training. I am very chuffed for how far he has come.

The last expert runner came into finish 24:12:58

3rd place 11:05:50

Couldn't have done it with my sister and Tanya!

After a finishing photo, medal collection and getting changed. I meet up with Sam and Tanya. I have my feet checked over by the paramedic on site. He removes some dead skin from my previous blisters and then sprays with savlon antiseptic. Tapes up with this huge tape bandage and I am good to go. For now that is. 

I later discover from a visit to see Matt at Studio57. I have slight bruising and trauma to my ankle muscle tendons, and after some ultra sound, taping and good strengthening advice. I am advised to let it heal and only run the very minimum distance if I have to. 

The Wall was day 245 of my running streak and I really was hoping to keep it going. 

Although it was slightly uncomfortable the first few days, slowly the ankle improved and the muscles started to repair nicely. 

I love wearing my running sandals and the Alpha Earth Runners feel great and comfortable. But the Birkenstock sole and foot bed is not designed over longer distances. After 20 miles I suffered bad blistering to the heel and forefoot which made the last 10 miles very uncomfortable. The Circadian, however has a Vibram tread and is much more longer lasting on distance, but with a 4mm sole. This wouldn't have been ideal on the harder surfaces today. 

I started in the Luna sandals and since have run the whole distance Race to the Stones 100k in Luna with no blister issues. This will be my preferred choice covering longer races and using the Circadian for complete barefoot experience, training and short races. 


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