Montana Hull: 24hrs
On May 15th, Montane ambassador Montana Hull did her first ‘proper’ ultra, a 24hr endurance run, lapping a circular 3.9 mile route with 220m of elevation in the North of Wales. She had organised everything, including her training plan. 4 months of hard work was now at a head.
I grinned at my crew, ‘it’s so weird being center of atten…’, I was cut off by the horn. That was my signal, 11am had come and I should start. My grin somehow extended further and I pounced into a run. Waving as I ascended the hill and out of view from my crew.
This was it, I was on my way. Just 23hrs and 59 minutes left! I got this, I knew I wasn’t going to fail, I just didn’t know what miles I would achieve in this time. I had my goals but the thinking, training and imagining was now over. It was go-time!
I was doing it to raise money and awareness for two charities and selfishly, to challenge myself. Before 2021, the furthest I had ever ran was 14 miles… And here I was bursting into the running scene with a 24hr ultra. This isn’t to say, I wasn’t prepared, I had followed a vigorously researched training plan, ate healthily and put a lot of effort into becoming an ultra runner.
I ran easily through the first 30 miles, with an elevation of 1400m, and I am not sure that my smile faded even once from my face. By Mile 35, the rain turned torrential and my spirits dipped slightly. Then at 9 hours in, my crew decided it was time for me to take a break. 20 minutes later, a Pot noodle had brought me back to life and my grin had returned. Donning my Montane Trail leggings and a head torch, I set off into the darkness. The rain lightened and soon the stars became visible across the unpolluted Welsh skies. Jogging along on stiffening legs, I became almost euphorically happy. I slowed to a walk for the graveyard shift, deciding the conserve my energy for the still remaining 10 hours. By 3am, I was definitely losing the plot and decided to rest for an hour.
4am. It was time to finish this… and It was also time to hallucinate! I rounded the hilly corner on the course, seeing what appeared to be a cow or horse cross the road in front. As I crested the hill, the animal was no where to be seen. In the infant light of the new day, head torches still lit the way and in my sanity, I decided that the animal had merely hidden itself from me as I summited the hill. That was until I watched a bird melt into the tarmac… ‘ahhh I am hallucinating” I shouted at my friend who was pacing with me. Luckily 25 minutes later, the new day came illuminating the way and banished the visions into memory.
9am. Welcome to the pain cave. I had stopped, sticking more blister plasters on to my existing blister plasters on my feet. Both knees now had supports and calves compressed. I was so tired. I let a tear roll down my face in self petty, then wiped it away, and pulled on my trainers. “I’ve got this” I grimace to my crew, who were filming my now limping gait as I set off on lap 19. I came in 42 minutes later, with a Cheshire Cat grin, and from the fastest lap of the morning. I knew this was it, I was a lap and a bit off 3 marathons (or 78.6 miles). This was the home run! Nothing could stop me!
11am May 16th, I came sprinting across my finish line, 78.6 miles and nearly 4000m elevation. It was an achievement just 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have even dreamt. But, what I was most proud of was not the milage or the elevation, but my mind and body. I could still walk, and my mind had stay determined, positive and my biggest supporter. I would have restarted the 24hours there and then. I LOVED it. A race I will never forget.
So, here I am! The new Ultra runner on the block. I might not be very fast but I’ve got bags of positivity and damn, I’m in love with this sport.