Friday, 3 February 2017

Salisbury 54321 50k - sun and hills

The Salisbury 54321 is an outstanding race.  It's extremely cheap (currently £25 for any of the races) and covers distances from 10k to 50k over multi-terrain courses, raising funds for the Salisbury Fire Fighters Charity.

In 2015 Matt and myself had run the 30k race as a warm up for the Bournemouth Marathon and vowed to return for the marathon (42k) or ultra (50k).  We had a 09:30 am start and the day was due to be warm with an average temperature of 27C.  Matt and Maria (who was running the marathon) arrived at my house and drove down to Salisbury discussing race plans which would never be followed.

Not sure of Maria's shoe choice!

Me, Matt and Maria
The races start at staggered times on the common opposite the Salisbury Fire Station.  As a warm up Matt and I ambled to the start line, having been wished good luck by Maria, and bickered about whose fault it was we were in this position.  Then we were off!  Heading north along the banks of the River Avon, past Stratford Sub Castle and loop around Little Durnford.  Then back, climbing towards Old Sarum castle, a loop around the top and then cross the busy A345 to head south, picking up the footpath at the back of Pual's Dene estate, then through a housing estate and under the A30 and through Laverstock at about 8 miles.  Each of the busy crossings was manned by marshals and managed excellently.

This guy beat us, in suit and normal shoes!

Then three and half miles of real trail running with some gentle hills and great scenery, with time and space to re-arrange on the hoof.  At 11.5 miles we crossed yet another busy road (A36) and then follow roads along footpaths until mile 13 where you enter the extensive grounds of Longford Castle. Having passed through the grounds we passed through Bodenham at around 14.5 miles and had to cross yet another busy road (A338) on to a prolonged section of trail.  At this point, on one of the many hills, Matt decided to slow his pace and I carried on, albeit only a few minutes in front at times.

One of the CP's was located on the edge of a Yew Tree wood, once passing the CP you follow the carefully laid markers through the wood or you would be in there for some time.  This wood is at the southern most point of the race at about 19.3 miles.  The trail then turned north towards Coombe Bissett at 21.5 miles before the last big hill of the race - 2 miles of steady climbing that eventually provided beautiful views across Salisbury.

The 50k route then wound its way west to Wilton and turned east back towards the City along roads and footpaths that finally led past the cathedral at 30 miles.  The bemused tourists moved aside as I worked my way through the centre and then along the footpath of the River Avon once more. Knowing the area was a bonus as many runners have got lost at this point.

The last mile seemed to never pass, but eventually I emerged from the tree covered path and back onto the common into the finishing funnel.  I was happy with my time of  6:10:15, Matt crossed the line at 6:31:43.

Race elevation

Would I recommend it?  Definitely, a great race for beginners to distance running and challenging enough for experienced runners.

Shoes: Altra Olympus 2 with Dirty Girl Gaiters
Race Vest: Ultimate Direction SJ v2
Fuel:  Tailwind, home made chia seed flapjacks and pretzels.

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