Having mastered every distance from parkrun to the marathon, our superstar Stuart Backhouse took on his first Ultra this Saturday.
In true Backhouse style, it wasn’t a flat 30 but a full on 50 miler with copious elevation.
“When I got the opportunity to run it, I jumped at the chance! It meant I would get to run it with my long time friend and work colleague Ian Cullingworth. He’s the king of ultras but has been ill for quite some years. This was his big comeback, I was never ever not going to run it with him”
So along with support crew Caroline and Debs, they jumped in the car and made their way to Waverton in Chester. With an obscenely early 6am start the boys were all smiles on the startline.
Starting from Waverton Villiage Hall, the pair set out into the darkness on the first leg of their journey toward the River Dee and then along the Shropshire Canal
“That was my worst bit weirdly despite it being pretty flat” said Stu “It was 15 miles on road and I had my trail shoes on. It’s tricky making the right shoe choice when it’s multi terrain”
They continued onward to Dunham Hill, where the fun started. Some steep climbs of upto 125m interspersed with equally sharp descents made for some technical running from the daring duo.
They passed the marathon distance with ease as they continued onto Frodsham, the 30 mile mark and more “cheeky” hills as Stu would call them.
“The sandstone trail was amazing! It was worth the climb to get up there with the views across Liverpool and Manchester. I felt really good at this point”
Onward they went, heading South now toward Delamere, a brief bit of respite in the elevations they headed to the checkpoint with only 14 miles to go.
“I still felt good at this point” said Stu “but I was under no illusion that unless you are in the front pack, it is just about survival. Your time and distance are irrelevant, it’s about getting to the finish in one piece”
Unfortunately for Stu and Ian, the biggest climb of the entire run still lay before them in the shape of Kellsall Hill on the Mid Cheshire Ridge. A beast of 154m in elevation (that’s 500ft in old money).
But what goes up must come down, and they made their way down the huge descent to the final checkpoint at Tarporley. It was all downhill and flat for the final 7 miles to the finish.
“We picked about 10 runners off in the last 5 miles”
They’d paced it brilliantly, as they finished strong. Having run the entire course together, they crossed the line in unison in 10 hours and 44 minutes.
“It was so emotional. There were tears. After everything Ian’s been through he smashed it! It’s great to see him back. It was a massive learning curve but I can’t wait to do it again next year”
Amazing running Stuart, the first of many super distances from our super runner, and welcome back Ian, great to see you back doing what you love.