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Tom Forman: My first Barefoot Ultra Marathon

It may have not been my fastest ultra marathon nor my longest ultra marathon, but the Round Ripon was my first Barefoot ultra marathon.

Organised by Go Beyond Ultra, this ultra marathon takes participants on a circular route up in North Yorkshire taking in the sites of woodlands, Yorkshire towns and a world heritage site. Such a mix of terrain coupled with the recent rain provided a perfect opportunity to try out my Gore-Tex Barefoot trainers and my feet on such a distance.
The race was a busy affair and appealed to all a abilities, this was probably due to the event organisers being well known for hosting great events, with relaxed cut off times, regular aid stations and minimum navigational requirement. For me this was ideal also as it meant I didn't have to push my feet to quickly and could merely plod along whilst enjoying the scenery (which was in abundance).  I’m also bad at navigating!
The course started off on road and after a few miles descended into a mix of trail and fields and although not as rural as I was anticipating, it provided an ideal surface to run on. This running environment however provided a prime opportunity to test the footwear as be it tarmac, mud, puddles, rivers or even ankle deep manure, the trainers ran through it.
And run through it they did! Although I didn't hang around in the puddle or river, my feet did stay pretty dry whilst running through them. I spent even less time in the ankle deep manure for obvious reasons, although a concealed effort was made to remain upright.

Coupled with the fields, trails and footpath the last mile was through a deer park which was beautiful and although it would be difficult to prove, I'm pretty sure the colour of my trainers and their smell protected me from these wild beasts.

I completed the race uninjured and happy with an added confidence in my trainers which made me look forward to my final two races of 2013.

The Final Countdown -With this race now complete I've turned my efforts to preparing for my remaining two races of this year which are The Piece of String and The Hill.

The Piece of String- although advertised as a 'fun run' is of an unknown distance that is over an indeterminate amount of time. I know two things about this race, firstly that it starts at 10am Friday 30th November and secondly, I was required to book an entire week off from my day job.

The Hill - which sounds like a horror film title - is a 160 mile race in the Peak District and has a 48 hour time limit (which is more information than I have about the PoS). The mental challenge of this will be huge, starting at 8pm runners are required to complete a 3ish mile lap 50 times with no more than a 30minute stationary period (to minimise the chance of hypothermia).

Either way the next few weeks are going to be interesting!

Follow me: @cairnhunter for race updates


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