It started last year with 19 runners. This year we got up to 40. Within a few years I will be charging you bastards and able to put my feet up, counting the cash as you run over the hills.
Or not. Social Ultra is just that. A group of runners, used to training alone and coming together for a group run in a non-competitive environment. Last year I ran a lot with Emily Canvin, this year it was Mark Fox. Two runners who’s backs I usually see for about the first 0.3 of a mile during a race, but during a social I get to chat to them.
Dave Urwin and I came up with the idea for this run in late 2013 and it started the Social Ultra scene in the UK, at least in an organised sense. Rich Cranswick and Chris Mills then took it to the next level with the Social Ultra website and Facebook page and now there are group runs every few weekends.
If you have a favourite training route and want to share it with others, get on the page and post it. We all enjoy building up to our races, but training alone on the long runs can be a slog. Sometimes it is welcome solitude, but Social Ultras bridge that gap between competitive running and training.
This year the run was supported by Helen Crossland, Rachael Gould and her daughter Chloe along with Nikki Mills. They set up some roving aid stations that would put Endurancelife to shame and did it all for free. In return, we asked runners to make a donation to BRAKE, the road safety charity after the recent accident close to the start of our run that claimed 4 lives, including that of 4 year old Mitzi Steady. A quick tot up on the JustGiving page shows over £100 from our runners, with other cash donations due to be added soon.
It was pretty much the muddiest I have ever seen the Cotswold Way and made a route that people underestimate anyway, even tougher. Because it wasn’t a race I don’t know how many people finished, but I know a few decided to skip the finish in the dark due to the terrain and I can understand that. Even knowing the route like the back of my hand, as the weather came in during dusk I was ready to get finished.
I used this as a last long run before the Green Man Ultra this coming weekend. It was great to catch up with some friends and also meet some new runners, some of who were using this as their first run post marathon distance which was great to see.
All in all, a fantastic day on the hills and let’s hope we double attendance again next year.