My first timed race, my first indoor race, and my first track ultra. It went very well indeed.
I managed to cover 51.62K in six hours (222 laps of the 232.5m track), ran at an average pace of 6:58 min/km, and came in 12th out of 21 male finishers. I ran in minimalist sandals for the first five hours and barefoot for the final hour. I took fuel stops each hour on the hour, and made two bathroom stops. I’m happy with the result, as I only trained for three weeks for this one.
The venue was York University’s indoor track. This comprises a 5-lane, 200m banked rubberized track, which was used for the 5K and 2K events, and a 232.5m flat concrete-surfaced track, which was used for the 6 hour, 42.2K, and 30K events. Participants in the latter three events changed direction every hour.
Going into the race, my strategy was simple. Start at a reasonable pace – not too fast, not too slow – try to hold it for as long as possible, and accept the gradual slowing down that comes with any long-distance race. Slow down to a walk once each hour, and use that to grab a gel, a couple of sips of HEED, and half a banana from my personal aid station (a mini cooler at trackside). This fueling model worked well for me at the Vulture Bait 50K trail race I did in October. So the logic was there, and I was hoping it would pay off again.
My race kit was minimalist, as usual. I wore my Xero Shoes Sensori Venture sandals, my oldest RaceReady side-cut sorts, no shirt, and a Buff. My Garmin Forerunner 210 and my new iPod Shuffle completed the list on the technology side.
Choosing a playlist for the iPod was fun. I decided to give music a try because, judging from a video I’d seen of a previous edition of the 6 Hour, facility was going to be noisy, with a good deal of echo. I chose the minimalist/ambient music of my two favourite composer/musicians, Terry Riley and Brian Eno, because I wanted a groove that I could get behind for the duration of the event. I ended up with a 5 hour and 38 minute playlist, which was just about perfect.
Running barefoot for the last hour was a real treat. Not only was the concrete track surface very barefoot-doable (as good as, if not better than, most of the sidewalks I run on in the warmer months), my pace actually picked up during that last hour of the race. No surprise to me, as I find that my form – and therefore my cadence and pace – are always better when I run barefoot. It was just the spark I needed at the end of the race.
This was a well-organized event, with a very engaging race director, competent timers, and enthusiastic volunteers. I plan to do it again next year.
(I’m grateful to Abdollah Dehnashi for all the photos which appear here.)