Mark Bissell - Barry 40
My first ‘A’ race of the 2021 season and I’ve been waiting six long months for it to arrive.
The Barry 40 has been a race I’ve looked at many times before, but with the race calendar becoming more and more saturated with events to tempt us in, I’ve been to slow to put my entry in. The more likely reason though, is I enjoy the training and have previously struggled to direct my focus to a single race.
161 laps of the Jenner Park Stadium, the target was simple, renew my 40 mile personal best and avoid getting sucked into a crazy pace by the whippets.
My fiancée, now wifey at the time of this write up, was my loyal support and even though I’ve been told I am a low maintenance runner to crew for by previous friends, it is always reassuring to have your beloved giving you a stern look if you miss a few nutrition pickups, haha. The target was to drink 300ml of electrolyte and 25-50g of carbs per hour, just like in training. The Mountain Fuel electrolyte drink and the High 5 gels have served me well throughout the long months of training and have never given me gastrointestinal distress. Perfect!
An old school race with traditional methods of lap counting, the stadium was host to a number of loyal lap counters, accompanying their athlete taking part in the race. I was fortunate enough to have the legendary Daz Reevell shouting encouraging abuse at me, lap after lap. Daz has been my coach for over a year and has been invaluable as part of my journey, from average runner to average runner with a goal. Every 5 miles the wonderfully charismatic Mick McGeoch, the Race Director for the race and sub 4 hour 40 miler in the past, was requesting splits and giving commentary throughout the entire race.
1:38-39 per lap seemed comfortable and was hitting it consistently, taking on nutrition and generally feeling okay, not great, but okay. I knew it was going to be a tough day from the lack of bounce in the legs. Not too sure why but hey, it happens so I found myself digging deeper than expected.
Sitting in third place overall, the splits remained consistent and nutrition was continuing to be going down well. Exertion was still higher than expected, but negative thoughts can quickly derail a runners event so I tried to smile at every opportunity. The podium was unchanged through another two 5 mile splits.
The camaraderie was superb, lots of chatting and the feeling that everyone was thankful that this iconic race had been allowed to go ahead. Mick and his fantastic team have done an awesome job.
Training has been fantastic and a typical week would consist of race pace efforts, 6:30-6:40 per mile, for up to 12 miles and the weekends would be 28 and 30 mile back to backs, ran smoothly at just over 7 minute miles. Eating and drinking would be dialled in throughout these long weekends and just allowed the gut to be training for the Barry 40.
Each week the training was on point and the regular chats with Daz allowed for adaptations depending on how the body and mind was feeling with the ever increasing mileage.
Half way and everyone was still cracking out the laps and it was a pleasure to witness the performances of all the athletes, especially Mr Garrod who was cruising at 6 minute milling and looking fresh as he continuously lapped me with a Captain America-esque “Hey” (if you know, you know), haha. Nutrition was still being taken on board well and the atmosphere was fantastic, I think everyone was just remembering what racing looked like after another stop-start, difficult year.
As the business end of the race was revealing itself, so was the storm that was forecast. Heavy winds and rain enveloped the track as we ran to the finish. Still in third place, I was pretty much hanging on and even though I was still taking on fuel well, the legs just weren't where I thought they should be. Each 5 mile split was progressively slower and in the end was chuffed to have just finished. 4:43 was the official time and was pleased to have finished on the podium amongst two great runners in Ollie Garrod and Charlie Langley.
5 Miles - 32:53
10 Miles - 1:06:54
15 Miles - 1:40:11
20 Miles - 2:13:52
25 Miles - 2:47:59
30 Miles - 3:23:29
35 Miles - 4:01:41
40 Miles - 4:43:42
18 entries, 15 starters, 13 completed the 40 mile race and two completed the marathon. Amazing organisation by Mick and the whole Barry team at Les Croupiers Running Club and it is testament to them for putting the time and effort in to ensure the safety of everyone involved during the pandemic. Let's hope 2022 offers up another edition of this great event!