Thursday 26 March 2015

EnduranceLife CTS - Sussex 2015. Race review

This was the first time I've tried any of the EnduranceLife organized events. I didn't know what to expect as I was told that the track marking in UK is usually weak and the CTS events have poor tracks. 

Well guess what? All of this was wrong.

I was taking CTS Sussex on as a training event for the Ultratrail I am planning in May 2015. Ultra distance was the only option that made sense to me as I had to travel to UK and cover all the expense. This did not look that cheap. 
I've enrolled into CTS via the EnduranceLife website. Everything simple and clear. Once I've done this I received a confirmation email saying that the registration was successful and I have to look up the Event Day info on site. I must say that everything looked pretty straight forward. Some general info followed by travel guide and a list of required kit for the race day. I did, however, check on the Ultra bits as some of the info was listing 'Marathon' distance only. Nevertheless, I have received a clear explanation on the missing bits and those were updated on the website as well. The team seemed to be really helpful.
I took a Ryanair flight to London Stansted. From there on I used the coach/train service to get to Eastbourne and booked a hotel to stay. I've arrived a day before and it made sense as getting to the bottom of UK - Sussex - does take time. I've booked the taxi to take me to Birling Gap on race morning and run through my kit and preparations.
Race morning.
The taxi driver was local. His question was: so you are here for the run or are you planning to jump? I was like: jump? He replied: yes. You are going close to the coast and we do get jumpers every now and then...
He took me to Birling Gap (which is a pub), but we found out that the race base was near by. The support team was set on the road and was pointing everyone in the right direction. I have entered the race tent and was led through the route to find my number, collect the race number, get the chip, get the tech-tee (this one is included into the entry price) and a carb snack that can be used post race. Everyone in the support crew was really helpful. I found a bag drop zone and left my bag there. As I did arrive around 30mins earlier I had a chance to look around the area and see what is waiting for us. The Ultra start was meant to take place at roughtly 8:30am. Our tech briefing started around 8:15am. The crew were clear on directions, explaining the map, running through race regulation and explaining the bits on track that might be confusing. You see you have to do the marathon distance first and the once you have hit the finish line go out again to do the 10K track and collect the missing 10K for the Ultra. 
I am placing the Ultra distance graphical layout below.

The bit where you have to come to the finish area and go out again is a tiny bit confusing especially if you are tired, but it is explained and marked very well.

The Race.
I took this one as training, so I was in no hurry. I've looked around the area and enjoyed the view. We started at the coast and run a good 3mi on it. The view is amazing! Then the track turns to the 'woods' or countryside and continues like this until roughly 17mi. By this point you have done nearly half of marathon incline and about one third of Ultra.

Above is the elevation map. 
Once you have done 17mi you are back on the coast with extremely beautiful chalk cliffs and an extremely strong wind! Oh the wind! It actually destroyed my pace in the end and I could not fight it any longer. 
Cost line continues up to mile 21. Now up the hill and back to the country side. A tiny bit of land running for the next 4miles and with a glimpse of the coast back to the finish area. Pass the finish area at mile 26 and back to 10K route. This is were my brain got really tired as one has to repeat something he has done roughly 4 hours ago... but step by step I was back on the coast line and the view was something that kept me going. Mile 27 - 28 coast line and back to the country side up to mile 30. Mile 30-32.5 gives you the coast line again with some steep but the last ones to beat inclines and the aim here is to find the arrow that points you back to the finish line to do the last mile. 
All in all I got a 34.3mi distance with 5945ft ascent. Metric gives me: 54.75km with 1806mD+.
At the finish line I was met by a friendly crew with a finishers medal, protein bar and a pat on the back. I was also issue the race result once the chip was scanned.
Kit used.
I got away with the following kit just fine. 

Stuff I've used: Salomon advanced skin 5l set, Montane light wind jacket (a necessity when it comes to CTS Sussex). I did my run in Inov8 X-talon 190. The shoe was really well matched for this track. The rest of clothes really depends on the weather, just don't forget it is really windy out there! I did take a pair of light gloves and couple of buffs. Something I haven't regretted all track long.

Support crew in all the CPs. All the CPs had water, bananas, jelly beans/gummy bears. I might have missed buns as I am not using them, but the memory kind recalls that those were present as well. 
Also, the view and the track! Something that you can see only on the Sussex Coast line.
The repeated 10K at the end. However, I would not say that it was a pain. It looks like the guys did the best they can to make the track as interesting as they can.
Make sure you chip is checked in every CP. Don't go out too hard in the beginning as it will kill you at the end. And most importantly - enjoy! 

Thanks to EnduranceLife for running this. A race I would love to try out once more!

 Some video futage can be found on Youtube:EnduranceLife CTS Sussex 2015

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