Getting nervous for my first ultra

Only 2 weeks to go, and I’ll be running my first ultra, in Sussex. I have to admit I’m getting nervous. 53 kilometers sounds like a lot.

Less then 2 weeks to go, and I’ll be running my first ultra, in Sussex. I have to admit I’m getting nervous. 53 kilometers and 1.600 meters of altitude. That sounds like a lot.

Okay, our training weekend in Spa gave me confidence, just like my double load training last weekend. I only ran 33 kilometers in Spa, with 1.100 meters of altitude, but the legs still felt good at the end. A bit tired, but good. Especially after the Run Forest Run Ommerland that was a relief, as I was having a bad day during that 43,5 kilometer trail run.

RELATED: The lessons from a trail weekend in Spa


Out of my comfort zone

But still, it’s going to be 53 kilometers in Sussex. I’ve never even walked that far. I have no clue how my body is going to react. Then again, that’s why I’m doing this. The only way to get to know yourself, is by stepping out of your comfort zone.

Today I checked-in for Sussex. I had already registered, but now with the event coming closer, we – the runners – have to check-in. There was the option to switch to a shorter distance, like the marathon. I didn’t. I planned to run the ultra, I’m going to run the ultra.


Road versus trail

The big difference between road races and trail races is that with road races you kind of know what you’ll get. I mean a marathon in Rotterdam isn’t that much different than a marathon in London. Okay, you run through another city, but you’ll still be running on the road, and you’ll still be running 42 kilometers and 195 meters.

With a trail run you’ll never know what you’ll get. The surface is always different. I do most of my runs around here in Bergeijk on bare earth, and some paths covered with leaves. In Scotland, during the Three Mealls Trail I was running through bog and bouncing over stones. Besides that, even if the altitude is the same, that doesn’t mean the climbs are the same. You can have lots of long, slowly rising hills, either you can have some very steep ones, with long flat parts in between.

RELATED: Three Mealls Trail; the most brutal race I’ve ever done


Great scenery

I think that’s the reason I am more nervous now, than I was in my first running life, when I only did road races. Luckily I found a nice YouTube-video from Ben Time on Feet of his ultra in Sussex last year. That gives me at least an idea what I’m in for, and I’ll tell you, I like it. If that’s going to be the scenery of my first ultra, it’s not going to be bad. The only thing I can now hope for is good weather.

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John Kraijenbrink

The Running Dutchman

I run. Trails mostly. I am Dutch. That makes me The Running Dutchman.

I am also a massage therapist, yogi, sports science nerd, and journalist/writer. Everything I learn and research about trail running, I share here, on this website, with you.

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