The Ring of Fire Ultra marathon is a 3 day ultra that takes in the complete coastal path around Anglesey and runs from August 30-September 1 this year. The total distance over the 3 days is 131 miles.
The Celtman on the other hand is a one day event in the North West of Scotland – Torridon to be precise and falls under the category of Extreme triathlon. This event is on July 6 this year and covers a 3.8k swim, 202k bike ride and a 40k run.
I am competing in the Ring of Fire but for the Celtman I am support runner for my mate Gareth.
At the start of May I had the opportunity to recce part of the Ring of Fire route with 3 others who I knew from the TriTalk Forum (Danny, Nick and Martin). We did what would be the 2nd half of the 2nd day, so part of the course which some of us may have to do after nightfall.
Gareth and I were able to head up to Torridon on the last weekend in my (while Fiona – my other – half was doing the 300km Snow Roads Audax) to recce the 2nd half of the Celtman run course which takes in 2 munro summits on Beinn Eighe. The first half is very much a nice trail run on fire roads.
Both of these recce runs turned out be very good both for the conditions on the day and the lessons learnt about the course.
A lot of the Ring of Fire route is in good runnable trails and roads but it does meander off in places onto pebble beach or sandy beach. It turned out to be one of the first hot weekends of the year and I got a rather one sided sunburn as we were running round the south west corner of Anglesey from Beamaris to Aberfraw.
I quite enjoyed the beach sections as they kept me off the tarmac which on the day really bothered me especially in the latter stages of the run. My feet felt too hot on it. The Coastal path is well sign posted but in places it does require a degree of navigation as the sign will often just point you into a field with no inclination of how to get out of the field again. It definitely won’t be enough to just rely on signage and being able to follow a map will be useful.
The latter stages of Day 2 of the Ring of Fire definitely were worth the recce run as this is field after field after field and if we do run this in the dark I don’t fancy trying to navigate. Very pleased to have seen this. Too many cows for my liking in places though.
The day had in general started cloudy and I wasn’t really to impressed with the route from Beaumaris westward but when we reached the Sandy beach beyond Newbourough it was well worth it. The sun was out by then too. Running along the beach here was amazing. Only hope it will feel that way 50 miles into the 2nd day of a 131 mile race.
It was good to catch up on the day with the other ultra runners too. We were quite a mixed bag from seasoned to very novice although Danny has in the meantime posted a really good result for a recent 50 miler in Kent I believe.
We talked a fair bit about race strategies and this will be interesting for me as I have never raced a multi day ultra but have done a fair few races of 30+ miles. The first day is “only” 32 miles which feels like it should be over in around 5 hours but I will have to be sensible and take this really easy to save myself for the days to come. The 2nd day with 60+ miles will be a real test of pacing, stamina and mental strength.
For the Celtman run Gareth and I got wall to wall sunshine after we did get a bit of a weather scare 2 days earlier with snow falling in parts of the highlands again and I was asking around what the conditions would be like on Beinn Eighe (which is just over 1000m high).
In the end we didn’t have to worry as the only snow we saw was some old snow on the way up to the first summit. The way up was a good long power walk for both of us and we got an idea what this would be like on day. Gareth is also going to be my support runner for the West Highland Way Race which I am doing in less than 3 weeks time so it was good to share race and support runner strategies and what would be required of each other.
When we reached the first munro we got a good bit of running/climbing over bouldery rock done over the next two tops to then end up on the second summit. The views were amazing.
We passed another couple who were also doing a recce run of the route. On the way down we decided to try out an alternative descent route which Gareth was aware may be an option on the day. It has in the meantime come to light that this won’t be the case. The route nonetheless worked pretty well.
Instead though we will descend via the not very scree like scree shute. The run out from the bottom of the main descent is still remarkably technical and you have to keep an eye on your footing throughout which on the recce day was fine as we had only been on our feet for 4 hours but after thrashing your legs for 200km on the bike beforehand is going to be an altogether bigger challenge. At least you know there are only a couple of miles of road left to the race finish.