Grand Union Canal Race
Two years ago, I was standing near to Catherine-de-Barnes bridge, watching GUCR runners who are passing through the 1st checkpoint along the way to London. It looked impossible for me at that time but when I looked for 100+ miles to run after completing a few 100 miles races, I’ve put this epic event into the top of my list. A couple of my ultra-friends including Rodrigo Freeman, Özgür Güleç, Iain Stewart and Stephen Braithwaite finished this race and their effort impressed me as well.
GUCR is the oldest ultra in this country and the event still keeps its traditions despite the modern era races. The race starts in Gas Street Basin in Birmingham and you should follow the canal path up to Little Venice in London. There are only 10 Checkpoints and the distance between them may vary from 10 to 20 miles!
My goal was to complete this around 40 hours but of course, it was my first attempt and any result within cut-off (45 hours) was OK. One of the points that I have learnt from my ultra-running experience was not to think about the remaining distance. Just focus on next CP and try to increase the buffer as much as you can.
You should not kill yourself in any case and preserve energy for the rest of this long journey. The first day was too warm and I could not keep running after 22 miles.
By the evening, I have increased my pace and arrived 70 miles CP (Navigation Inn) at 22:15. Night section was very good for me and managed to leave 99 miles CP around 08:00 (4 hours before the cut-off) I was at 45th position at that point. Luckily, the second day was not warm as the first one and despite the tiredness; I kept run-walk strategy until the end.
My last goal was arriving Little Venice before dark and I guess I managed this by finishing the race at 21:25. (39:24 race time) Finished 31st where there were 97 starters and 52 finishers.
Although I prefer hilly races, this relatively flat race has its own challenges. Using the same muscles kills your knees and ankles. However, this is another beauty of ultra-running. Variety of difficulties make them impossible to compare with any other race.
Even the same course offers different challenges at a different time of the day or year.
Thanks all for your support. Special thanks to Sean Lynch for his support at the 10th mile and my lovely wife Reside Ozsoy for her invaluable support at (and after) the finish.
#gucr2019 #gucr145 #uknetrunner #grandunioncanalrace #birmingham #littlevenice #gucr @ Little Venice, London