I met Julie at checkpoint 3 during the 110K Lakes Ultra in June 2015 and we chatted our way around the course. I then bumped into her at the Snowdonia Trail Marathon in July 2016. Our next meeting was in a restaurant in Chamonix in August and this time we were able to swap contact details. For the next couple of months I received numerous texts asking me if I fancied taking part in various hard core events. Each time I felt unable to accept due to lack of training/fitness or working etc. But, when she suggested the White Rose Ultra, I really had no excuse to decline. There was a 30-mile option, the route was fully marked (no navigation required) and there was a generous eight-hour cut-off.
Race day dawned. Simon and I got up at 5am, breakfasted and headed off to Huddersfield. It was freezing. I collected my race number and looked around for Julie. It became apparent that Julie was not there.
Start time for the 30- and 60-mile options was at 8am. The 100-milers had set off at midnight. It was cold. I wore my Ron Hill leggings, long-sleeved top under my vest, gloves and a Buff and at no point felt overdressed. Then it stared to snow. The route was a 30-mile loop, two loops for the 60-milers and three loops with a 10-mile out-and-back at the start for the 100-milers. There was more tarmac than I had expected as the route alternated between road and bog and there were some very steep climbs.
At about 15 miles I met a lady wearing Number 5. She commented that she liked my pace and very politely asked if I minded if she tucked in behind me. I had no objection so off we went. We didn’t speak much, head down, hoods up but I did ascertain that Number 5 was planning to do the 60-mile option which made me more inclined to help. It wasn’t all one sided, having Number 5 behind me was company and I felt obliged to maintain the pace rather than dawdle. Also, Number 5 had done her homework and had studied the route. She knew what was coming next such as a 3.2-mile climb after the next reservoir and she wore a Garmin, so knew our mileage.
We completed the loop and after a quick turnaround Number 5 set off to go round again. I wished her well, struggling with mixed emotions – delight that it was all over for me and I could stop but, feeling wimpy because it was all over for me and others were still hard at it.
Happy to get home, hot chocolate, hot bath, hot food but my thoughts returned to those still on the course, especially Number 5. I turned in at about 10pm, 2 hours before the 60-mile cut-off and tried to send positive vibes to all those still running.
A couple of days later the results were out and I can confirm that Number 5 has a name, she is called Ros and completed in 14 hours 55 minute. Well done Ros, you have my utmost admiration!
— Steph Goodchild
You can find out more about the White Rose Ultra at http://www.whiteroseultra.co.uk/