Moravian Ultra Marathon (MUM)
7 marathons in 7 days
This was to be
my first trip into long multi-stage racing and a new experience.
I have run the Tour of Tameside a couple of times (a double marathon
over seven days) and often raced on consecutive days, but not a
marathon everyday for a week.
The event was
based at Lomnice, a town just north of Brno in the Czech Republic.
A school was used as the base and air mattresses and blankets supplied
for sleeping on classroom floors. The marathons were all around
43km with different routes every day, they were run over multi-terrain
hilly routes and maps were supplied to help with navigation along
with orange tape and yellow arrows sprayed on the ground. Every
day the finish was in the same place at the school, which made life
easy for changing, showering and eating. Seventeen athletes managed
to finish all seven marathons, six of these females from five different
countries, making this a good international field. Most days there
were six checkpoints supplying food and drinks, only one long day
there was seven.
The first marathon
was to be a circular route around Lomnice, starting at 2pm after
an opening ceremony by the Mayor at the local Town Hall. The weather
was hot and the first 400m was run together through the town before
started the climb out of Lomnice on the road, soon we were in the
trails and I had overtaken all the women, but disaster was to strike,
in the forest I was following three men and we came to a junction
and did not know which way to turn, we guessed at turning right
and continued to get further lost.
we became separated and were running with one man and came out of
the forest onto a road. On meeting a cyclist he directed us along
the road to the first checkpoint. I arrived at checkpoint one taking
75 minutes to cover the first four miles. I carried on to checkpoint
two very demoralised, to get lost on the first day on the first
checkpoint, I did not hold a lot of hope of not getting lost for
the rest of the week and thought I had no chance of winning the
event, I just had to be content that this was to be a new experience
and a long hard training week.
three I had still not overtaken anyone and asked how far in front
the next athletes were - 15 minutes was the answer. Eventually I
did start overtaking athletes and did not go wrong for the rest
of the race, which was a big relief and was surprised to eventually
finish as third lady, sixteenth overall, some 31 minutes behind
the Russian athlete Irina Koval and 14 minutes behind German athlete
Anke Molkenthin. My time was 4 hours 41 minutes compared to Irina's
4 hours 9 minutes.
The day started
with a tour of Lomnice, visiting the Town Hall again, the Church,
the Castle and a couple of cemeteries. We were then driven to Kunstat
and had a presentation in the Town Hall for the first three men
and women (a piece of pottery) for the previous day and everyone
got a certificate with their time and position.
were split in two today, the slower runners starting at 2pm, the
faster runners at 3pm. As my time was in the second half of the
field I started at 2pm, which I was pleased with as the finishing
time was late to get a shower, food and massage before bed. Irina
also requested to start at 2pm. After spending the night thinking
about the previous day I learnt a few lessons, it was obvious when
I had come to the track with no marking that I was already off route
and the best thing would have been to retrace my steps rather than
to continue and hope to find my way, I was also a little more used
to the markings now having completed a day so felt a little more
confident that I would not get so lost. The weather was hot again
and after a slow start was not feeling too bad. I was second lady
and could see Irina in the distance.
3 and 4 the route went steeply down hill in the woods and was obvious
to me that Irina was not so fast over this terrain and picked her
way down the hill, I took advantage of my many days of running in
the North York Moors and overtook her, I put some effort in to open
a gap and was surprised when I looked back from checkpoint 4 she
was not in sight, with renewed confidence I thought if I could pull
a few minutes back from my 31 minute deficit by the end of the week
there may be a chance of winning.
at Lomnice very strongly and after a shower looked at the results.
I had finished in 4 hours 10 minutes; Irina was second in 4 hours
34 minutes and Anke in 4 hours 35 minutes. I had clawed back 24
minutes and was now lying in second place in the overall women's
We had an early
start today with breakfast at 6:45am. By 8:15 we were on our way
to Nedvedice and it was cold and raining. We had a tour of the castle
here, said to be one of the finest in the Czech Republic, it certainly
was superb but was very tiring standing a climbing up and down steps
for around two hours being guided around the castle. We then went
to a fair ground where the presentation of the second stage was
held; everyone went on the stage and was given a pen and postcards
of the area along with the certificates. By the time the race started
I was unsure what to wear, it was still raining but getting milder.
I opted for shorts and a long sleeve top over my vest. The start
was hard running up hill to the castle and through the grounds of
the castle, but the rain was starting to ease.
There was a
long climb up the road to checkpoint 2 and took off my shirt as
the sun came out. Shortly afterwards we joined the trails and immediately
overtook Irina again over the rough terrain. I finished the day
the fastest so far in 4 hours 7 minutes; Irina was second in 4 hours
23 minutes. This now meant I was the first lady on aggregate times
by 7 minutes, not a confident lead but was pleased I was challenging
Irina. I have never
beaten Irina over 24 hours and her best in 24 hours is 225km compared
to my 217km.
was to a museum and monastery at Tisnov. The usual presentation
of certificates at the town hall of the previous days race. The
first three athletes received a t-shirt and pottery cup.
was very hot today and was not really feeling any worse than I had
felt on the second day. I took Irina even earlier today between
checkpoints 1 and 2, but it was not to be a good day. Soon after
entering the woods I found myself off-route again with no familiar
orange tags, by the time I retraced my steps and eventually found
the right path between two bushes I was back in third place. I increased
my pace and was soon back in the lead again but was having to run
hard. I struggled in several places today to find the route and
felt that the marking was not as good as previous days. Between
checkpoints 5 and 6, again I went off-route, the first time on the
road where I followed the orange tag, which was on the wrong side
of the road, when I retraced my steps I then found the yellow arrow
pointing left and into the woods.
While in the
woods the same thing happened, the tag was above the path indicating
to climb the hill, on reaching a junction again there were no markers,
by the time I retraced my steps this time Irina was coming the opposite
way towards me at the same time as the first two men from the 3pm
start were overtaking her. The was the first time the men had overtaken
me and put some effort in to stay in front of Irina. My time was
slower today with 4 hours 38 minutes due to losing my way three
times, Irina finished in 4 hours 44 minutes.
start to see a castle that was being restored in Veverska Bityska.
The presentation was in the Town Hall again and another very hot
day. I had a couple of blisters now from having got wet feet, they
were painful on starting and hurt more when running down hill. From
the start we ran to the castle and through the grounds down to a
I was in the
lead from the start this time but it was to be a very tough day,
there were some really steep climbs in the woods and there were
seven checkpoints, which should have told me this was harder. I
had no problems with navigation but finished in 5 hours 6 minutes,
my slowest so far. I was starting to feel tired after having run
for the usual four hours and realised this was going to be a long
day. Irina finished in 5 hours 23 minutes and one of the German
men, Rainer, who was wearing a GPS, said the route was over 47km.
Just two more
marathons to go now and was confident of finishing and was extending
my lead over Irina by a few minutes every day. The weather was really
heavy rain and the excursion today was cancelled, as it was too
wet for the outdoor trip. This was such a relief; the marathons
were hard enough but getting up early every day and sightseeing
every morning was just as tiring. We rested in our rooms grateful
that it was raining.
We left to go
for the start and presentation at Boskovice; the presentation was
a candle in a glass with a picture of Boskovice. By the time the
race started the sun was out again. The route felt so much easier
today when I finished in 4 hours 20 minutes compared to the previous
day and finished feeling quite strong and confident for the last
The last race
had a staggered start between 10 am and midday. My start time was
10:50 with Irina starting at 10:40. It was to start and finish at
the school and was to be two laps, the second one slightly shorter
than the first. I could not find my way out of Lomnice from the
town hall and spent 10 minutes running up and down three different
roads trying to find the way out , eventually I got it right and
had no more problems on the first lap, I caught Irina before the
end of the first lap and so knew I only had to finish without getting
lost to win, I did have one more scare after the last checkpoint
when we switched to the shorter route and missed the marker across
a field, but only lost a couple of minutes this time. I finished
in 4 hours 9 minutes. My overall aggregate times was 31 hours 13
minutes, Irina was second with 32 hours 20 minutes and Anke Molkenthin
third in 33 hours 22 minutes.
There was a
big buffet dinner and presentation that evening and watched the
race on the local television. The first man and women won a silver
medal. I was elated just to finish and could not believe I had really
won this event. I was surprised at how strong I remained throughout
the race, I had anticipated getting slower and slower as the week
progressed, but my race on the last day was comparable with the
other days when I had not got lost, my average time was 4 hours
27 minutes. Overall I had really enjoyed the whole week and would
definitely like to run a few more multi-stage races. Overall 17
athletes finished all 7 marathons, 6 of these were women, I finished
8th overall (40 athletes did various stages).