08:00: It’s a chilly, grey, damp Friday 13th morning for the aptly named 'Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon' at Grimsthorphe Castle Estate in Lincolnshire. You can still smell the wet grass from the rain of last night in the air as 150 runners make their last minute preps for the ultra distances ahead.
09:00: The gun fires and we are off! Last minute wave to my partner who is still filming on social cam and we trot, run, walk off from the start. Within minutes up the drive way I'm surprised at how quickly some runners tear off up to the castle grounds. I purposely slow my pace not to keep up with them and check I'm not going any faster than an 8:30min/mile pace.
I reach the field to stamp my race card for the last time, which feels good. I try my best to up the pace but my legs seem locked into auto pilot at a steady 8:00 min/mile on this lap. Looking at my Garmin I'm just over 5 hours in and have only a few more miles left to the finish. I come up the winding pathway and trails to see the castle peeping through the trees and have a sudden feeling of accomplishment that I've almost done it…I've finished my first Ultra race and it looks like a good time too!
I try to hold my cool as I still have a little way left and just focus and keep to it passing others on the way. One guy says 'Please say this is your third lap!' I tell him ‘No, sorry I'm almost done here, last one!’ I try not to show my excitement too much as I realise it can't be good knowing you have another lap or worse, seven left to go....
I quick step around the bottom of the gardens to the driveway up to the castle for the last time and already hear ‘Come on number 5, go Luke!' I hear the jokers from Team 9bar say ‘Well done, half way Luke nearly there!’ I laugh aloud and roll my eyes. 'I'm done!' I say as I pass through the two flags leading to the checking-in tent to a big applause.
I would like to thank the Race Director Keith Gray and Team 9bar for making my first epic Ultra race such an enjoyable and unforgettable experience!
I would also like to thank all my family and friends for their support in all my running adventures and lastly my partner 'Sunday' for being my crew, support and taking time out to be there for me on that not-so-summery weekend in Lincolnshire.