As always it’s taken a while to get round to writing my Ring O Fire blog but as with the other ultramadness guys family life, work and running takes up much of our time.
I’ve currently got the time (too much bloody time) after having surgery on my shoulder, a dislocation back in January resulted in a full thickness tear of my right rotator cuff and detachment of the supraspinatus, surgery 10 days ago has got the ball rolling on the road to recovery, 6 weeks in a sling 24/7 with no working, driving, lifting ect has got me fighting the boredom demons a battle I’m not winning at the moment but at least I have time to write a blog, been a multi day event I’ll write up in three blogs giving each day it’s own well deserved entry.

So back to the Ring O Fire, this is an epic 3 day 135 mile circular run around the coastal path on island of Anglesey in Wales, starting on Friday 30th August finishing Sunday 1st September

Day 1 35.7 miles from the start point in Holyhead to Amlwch in 11hrs
Day 2. 65.9 miles from Amlwch to Aberffraw in 22hrs
Day3. 33.4 miles frm Aberffraw back to Holyhead in 11.5 hrs

Having had a pretty arduous run at the Lakeland 50 just four weeks previous the RoF start date came around all to soon considering my feet were still not 100% recovered but after having to withdraw from this race in 2012 after been injured there was no way I wasn’t starting it this year.
An overnight stay in a local pub and I was well rested and ready to go on Friday, with a 131place limit this was always going to be a fairly low key event, that was until it was announced Prince William and his beautiful wife Kate were to be the official starters !!!!
To make it all a little interesting the first days start time is 1pm making it a late finish for us Mid to Back of the pack runners and with a 6am start for the next two days I’m sure there isn’t going to be a great deal of sleeping going on for the coming weekend !!!!

With the royal party due the organisers and competitors were not allowed to leave vehicles in the main car park at he Breakwater Country Park our starting point in Holyhead but a separate area a good half mile away had been arranged as safe storage for all vehicle for the weekend, parked and carrying my 3 bags to the registration area gave me time for the usual ” what am I doing here” “everybody else look thin, fit, fast” “IM NONE OF THE PREVIOUS” thoughts that tend to creep into my head at these events but registration soon put those thoughts out if my head.
Not a lot of people here yet so no waiting around, a quick check on the list for my name and im handed My event t-shirt, disclaimer to sign and two tags, one tag for my over night bag that will be transported to the finish point on each day and a tag for my drop bag, on day 2 the long day we have a drop bag at the halfway point to fill with whatever we want.
I’m all done and sorted with an hour to spare so lots of nervous waiting about by everyone, I bump into Brian Roberts a Guy I’ve meet through Facebook, Brian took part last year but had to pull out on the first day after getting injured, he’s back and taking part again, chatting to him and his wife takes my mind off the pending start which helps.
Royal greetings over with (yes Kate is just as beautiful as she looks on the tv) and we’re ushered towards the starting line, all of a sudden Johnny Cash Ring of Fire blasts out over the pa system and the count down begins…… 3 2 1 were off a few good lucks pass between us all….. Part of what’s great about the ultra community … And we’re off 35.7 miles to go !

As usual I’ve secured my normal position two thirds back from the start line and feeling a little nervous but moving along nicely keeping up with the people around and chatting to Brian as we go, we’re soon heading toward Holyhead town, a quick call of nature and ive dropped back from the group to a position on my own, not wanting to spend to much time along I up the pace a little.

Through Holyhead and back onto the coastal path still feeling good, after passing a few from the earlier group I’ve not caught Brian back up but guess he’s pushing ahead and making good time while he can, the route so far has been great mostly along well trodden soil paths , through some woods and I’ve even finished the first of what was to be many beach crossing, I’ve been through the first checkpoint and fallen I to a good rythum, not too hard but I’m aware I’m working, a quick glance at the garmin shows in working too hard or harder then I’d planned as I was averaging a touch over 9min mile pace…… Wowwwwww there I’ve a long way to go in the next three days and this is far to fast time to pull the rains in and slow down if I’m to make the end.

Second check point soon comes into view so I glug what remaining fluid I have to ensure I’m leaving with two full bottles, it’s still very warm and I’m drinking a good litre between checkpoints, eating well from the choice of sweet and savoury snakes available and moving well, I’ve caught up with a few people and chatted with them for a while, the usual where you from, done much of this sort of stuff before questions before slowly plodding off back with my own now happy thoughts.

Third checkpoint and I’m way ahead of my planned time so I make the decision to walk the rest of the way to ensure I’m not too tired or over worked for the next long day, it soon became apparent I’d have been walking wanting to or not as the next section became very hilly with lots of steps, the accents and descents weren’t long but very steep, most had steps cut into the hill side, I say steps they were wooden boards holding what had a one point been a step but were now a flattened piece of soil sometimes several inchs lower then the board making parts of the downhills quiet treacherous, time to watch my footing and remain upright, the next few miles seemed to float by up and down in and around coves with some stunning view to stop and admire before flattening out again just as the last town came into sight, head torch on as it’s getting dark just as I catch two guys trotting along, I drop in behind them and enjoy the last few miles of the coastal path as we round a caravan park before leaving the coast to head inland to the Amlwch leisure centre for the night, I’m smiling to myself as I’m thinking how the paths suddenly turned very rocky and is very similar to been on the Lakeland fells which was quite nice for a change after been on a mainly flat trail for most of the day, a quick look on my map to check I’m following the right path and WHAM i kick a bloody great big boulder and I’m instantly brought to a holt with a intense burning pain in my left big toe !!!!!!
A quick wiggle and everything’s moving but a few choice words are said about the incident, a bit of a shuffle going on but back to moving forward onto the last checkpoint, Sod’s law says the leisure centre would be on the far side of the town and sure enough it was, passing the local take aways I’m tempted to stop and collect some food but I decide to carry on and get checked in for the day and hope to get something to eat at the centre.

So 9hrs 14min after starting I’m checked in as finished on day 1…… I’d intended to finish around 10hrs so a little quicker then intended but after been nearly 2 1/2 hrs ahead at the last check point I think the decision to walk and enjoy the last section saving my legs was a wise choice, after all I’m here to Complete and not Compete, others around are removing shoes and having showers but I decide to eat and drink first so head to the canteen, this turned out to be a wise choice as I manage to get the last food left, a baked potato covered in beans and cheese, I could have eaten it twice but unlike quite a few others who after the canteen shut were left to prepare there own food at least I had a easy hot meal which was a bonus.

Shower and foot care reveals an ever growing blood blister right along the base of my left toe nail, it’s very tender across the nail and surrounding area but I can deal with that in the morning, over all my feet are tired but in good order , same for the legs and mentally I feel great at finishing strong and ready to continue, time to roll out the sleep mat and sleeping bag, hit the gym floor and get some sleep as it’s going to be an early start !!!!!

To be continued ……..

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