UK Ultra Trail Running Championship

For some reason that he has never been able to adequately explain to me, Rich Wilkinson took part in this 86.5 mile/9000ft of climb trail race over the last weekend, finishing a magnificent 14th place overall out of a field of 170 runners, achieving the bronze medal for being 3rd British V50 man to finish. This being his longest challenge yet, although somewhat flatter than the usual fells terrain, the race was a relentless plod along the beautiful long distance footpath starting at Ivanhoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and finishing at Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire.

With Rosie and I following him by car, and with a complex schedule of meeting points, in addition to the nine official check points at which to provide support in any way possible, the race started at 12.00 noon on a fine day weatherwise.

Being used to running at a quicker pace than is sensible for a course of this length, Rich always faced the danger of going too fast early on, and indeed was in 4th place in the early stages, ie, approx 20 miles. However, as the race wore on he began to feel the miles, along with the enormity of the distance still to cover.

Following the route by car wasn't easy either and unfortunately Rich had missed "H" off the map we were were using to track his progress, and for some reason we didn't tell him, leaving him a 8 mile stretch to the halfway point. Still, only 43 miles to go!

The number of meeting or check points still to reach seemed endless as the mile count clocked up, it couldn't have been much fun for Rich either, who by this stage was really starting to suffer with cramp, muscle aches, light-headedness and severe fatigue, as he was gradually being passed by runners who had started the race more conservatively. Non-the-less he doggedly stuck to the task as day turned to night, and being continually supplied by energy fluids and water, the end gradually became closer.

Eventually, in the light of a new day, and in a time of 18 hrs 42 mins, Rich reached the finish line (winning time - 14hrs 48 mins), having passed the pain barrier several times over. A truly heroic effort.

Unfortunately, his post-race recovery didn't go well giving Rosie and I, and a very attentive St John Ambulance cause for concern, and eventually an ambulance was called for and Rich was taken to Swindon General for precautionary tests. The next time I saw him he was being re-hydrated by intravenous drips, having been given blood chemistry and ECG tests. Turns out that he was suffering from damaged skeletal (leg) muscle waste products in the blood, a safe level of which would be up to 200, with 2000 being a safe maximum upper limit. Wilko's count was 50,000 - surely another club record - and he had acute renal failure. His reply of "will I be ok for the Club Fell Champs on Friday night" didn't go down well with the medical staff.
Well done again Rich, get well soon.

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