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First time Ultramarathon runners.

October 2022 Samantha and Vicky Tapp and Nathalie Hooper ran virtual London Marathon and after covering the distance, thought it wasn’t too bad and might be an idea to try an ultra marathon! Geraldine Suckling got wind of this and thought she’d join them. It took a while to find the right one and the Suffolk Coastal Path 50k was chosen because it was good for first time ultra runners and being in September, they thought it would be cool. Ha! Mother Nature had other ideas and it ended up being one of the hottest days of the year!

I, Nathalie, had spent the last 4 months training, covering miles of trails, strength training, yoga and working out fuelling for the event. Nothing could have prepared me for the day. We were bused up to the start at Lowestoft from Aldeburgh and the heat was already building up for our 8.30am start. The horn blasted off for the start and it was really odd starting a race at such a slow pace, but very much necessary. In the excitement it is easy to shoot off, but Geraldine and I kept each other in check.

Sam and Vicky got into a comfortable pace and headed off. We kept it slow. Check point 1 came and went and we knew there was a long stretch to the next check point. After passing the inviting beaches at Kessingland, we headed inland through the Benacre Nature Reserve until we got to Checkpoint 2. At the checkpoint I craved something cold and had an orange slice, something I’d never eaten during training. I paid the price and felt so nauseous for the next 7 miles!

Up to mile 20 Geraldine was jollying me along, but I did not feel good. She noticed I was a bit wobbly and almost stuffed a Dextrose tablet in my mouth! It did the trick. I told her to go on as she was running strongly and I knew she could finish with no problems. I had another 11 miles to go, my mind was battling with itself, but there was no way I was going to pull out. I knew I could power walk the rest, which was literally at the speed I would have run. In reflection I enjoyed those miles. I chatted with other runners when I caught up with them and took in the amazing scenery. Although the worst stretch was along the shingle beach, for what I’m sure was a mile, with Sizewell in the distance and never getting closer! The next two check points passed by and I made sure to get water and drink flat coke (this was my saviour!) and finally found I could comfortably eat watermelon.

At mile 31, with the finish flags in sight in Aldebrough, I got a call from Geraldine asking where I was. She met me before the finish, took my hydration vest and I ran over the finish. It was wonderful to step under the arch in front of the Moot Hall and receive the medal. Even better to find Sam and Vicky had bought lollies! It was brutal, but as an experienced ultra marathon runner said to me, it’s meant to be tough but maybe they weren’t talking about the 30 degree heat.

Geraldine, Sam and Vicky finished superbly in just over 7 hours. I took 7 hours 45, but I didn’t mind as I had come in well under the cut off. I should also mention that Adam Chamberlin also ran the course in just over 5 hours only 2 weeks after having run 100k! A massive thank you to Lucy Jay and the kids for all the support along the way and at the finish.

Of course the question is would we do another? Geraldine would do one tomorrow if she could, myself and Sam would wait till next year and it’s a definite ‘no’ from Vicky!


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