Tomorrow is my birthday and as a special treat from my family I have entered the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA) Winter Poppyline, a 50 mile loop around North Norfolk.

For a number of years I have wanted to take part in a LDWA event, which have a great reputation of being friendly events, well organised and open to runners as well as walkers. While they lack the bling of more commercial events, the low price for entry and enthusiasm of the members that help put them on, is supposed to be legendary.

Following The Spine Challenger in January, I was keen to get something else in the calendar to focus on and banish my post race blues. Initially I had planned to try and pick up an event in March, but when I stumbled upon The Winter Poppyline I thought why not. An ultra run on my birthday, it would be rude not to right?

Now the first thing to point out is that LDWA events are not races but challenge events. There are no prizes or medals for coming first and the only person you are racing is yourself, and the cut off times on the clock as well I guess. Just the kind of event I needed for my birthday, a nice relaxed and friendly run around the North Norfolk countryside without the pressures of trying to hit a specific time or place.

Truth be told I am not sure my legs are really ready for 50 miles, with a less than successful return to running following The Spine Challenger. I’m well short of where I would want to be to try and improve my 50 mile PB but that is not a problem. All I am after is some fun, so am pretty relaxed about how the day will unfold.

My key objectives for this event are therefore nice and simple, namely:

  1. Have fun!
  2. Finish
  3. Finish before its dark

With runners starting at 09:00 the last one will require me to focus a bit, as it will need me to finish within 8.5 hours. Still an hour over my PB but not a walk in the park as well.

I’m also planning to use this event as an opportunity to experiment a little. I’m aiming to run the race using Mountain Fuel only for nutrition between the checkpoints, of which there are 5. At the checkpoints I will pick up and take what is on offer but am keen to see how little I can get away with food wise during the race.

Also, while family will be coming out to see me on the course to wish me a happy birthday, I am not planning on using them to support me with kit etc. The aim is to run the full fifty miles unsupported and see what I can learn nutrition wise.

So there we have it. I am really looking forward to a fun day out in the Norfolk countryside tomorrow, reacquainting myself with places I have visited before, including some of the later sections of The Norfolk 100 course. Did I forget to mention the shingle beach is in there – crunch, crunch, crunch! 🙂

I will of course be back with details of how it went later next week. Wish me luck!