Set in the Rushmore Estate near Tollard Royal in Wiltshire, this glorious part of the English countryside is nestled within Cranbourne Chase, an ancient deer forest. Formerly the royal hunting grounds of King John, the last 10 years have seen some major restoration work resulting in the area now being recognised as a wildlife site of national importance.
In it’s 5th year now the Ox races have evolved. They are now largely based around the 10k circuit used for the light/dark races, runners wanting to compete at distance could either take on the 50 miler or the 12 hour challenge (run as many loops as you can)
Two of our tenacious ultra specialists, Dan Williams and Ian Russell took not the bull, but the Ox by the horns by running just about everything on offer over the course of 2 and a half days.
Starting on Saturday night they started their monster weekend of running by competing in the “Dark Ox” A 10k single lap of the course setting off at sunset. They both got off to a cracking start with Dan coming over the line in 12th and Ian in 13th
“We were meant to take the 1st race easy” Ian tells me “but we both got a bit carried away running 8 minute miles”
Off they went to bed using the onsite camping facilities. Getting themselves a good nights sleep for the main event in the morning- the 50 miler!
“I woke up feeling really good for the 50” said Ian
They both got off to a brilliant start with Dan and Ian clocking the 3rd & 5th fastest laps respectively of the whole competition.
They had to complete 8 laps to reach the 50 miles, (or 53.6 as it turned out! – good old White Star Running giving out free miles again!) As if that wasn’t hard enough, there was also 6100ft of elevation to contend with.
“I suffered bad tummy cramp between 16 and 26 miles, but it wore off thankfully. I only had 4 laps left by then so I kept going. I chose not to take any rest stops and just kept going. I’m glad I did as I reached the 50 mile mark in a pb time of about 9hrs 30mins”
But they done it! 53.6 miles each for the day, Dan in 5th place and Ian in 6th. A few beers to celebrate and another night in camp. Not too many though as it was business again the next day.
Dan was on the startline of the Light Ox bright and early.
“I was going to take it steady. In fact I did….. for 1 mile….. then I got all competitive and started picking people off. I don’t know how the hell I managed to hammer it” he told me “I felt like I was flying!”
Fly? You could say that! Dan managed to work his way through the field to finish in 6th place.
Unbelievably, within an hour, he was back on the startline for the last race of the weekend. This time joined by not only Ian, but also club “national treasure” Lyn Snow.
Last but by no means least, the half marathon was still a bit of a beast. 1700ft of elevation and classically White Star overmeasured it was no easy finish to the weekend.
“After Saturday’s race, the half didn’t feel very long at all” said Ian
Dan found the last race surprisingly emotional.
“There was a big announcement on the startline that 2 others and I were the top 3 finishers over the previous 3 races” said Dan
Those completing all 4 races were vying for the pole position in the Ox Epic. An additional set of prizes for the top scorers all weekend. Suddenly everyone knew Dans name and were cheering him on, willing him to complete this amazing challenge and become… well… epic.
No super fast times in this last race, hardly a surprise as Ian’s total mileage for the weekend hit close to 74 miles and Dan almost 80. Temperatures were considerably higher than the previous day too, as the sun peeked through and the Mercury was hitting the early 20s.
“I don’t know how I did it” Dan says “I felt really emotional at the end of the half. I was so pleased with my positions in all the races, despite my tired legs”
His time was quick enough to give him 2nd place overall.
“I am so chuffed to come 2nd, especially to such a quality runner. Maybe I’ll give up smoking and try and beat him next time” he quips “it just all came together nicely. I found that special place and lit that fire inside”
Lyn also enjoyed her outing over the 13.75 miles.
“That was tough” she says.
But she smashed her way through it and was treated to a rapturous welcome across the line by the others and cheerleader and fellow club member Lucy Deville.
A good weekend had by all.
D.Williams – 49.48 12th overall
I. Russell – 50.35 13th overall
D.Williams – 9.21.33 5th overall
I.Russell – 10.03.03 6th overall
D.Williams – 48.27 6th overall
D.Williams – 2.13.51
I.Russell – 2.21.49
L.Snow – 3.50.07
D.Williams – 13.17.33 2nd overall