HARTLEPOOL Burn Road Harriers’ Jason Ellis is celebrating after winning the Northern Cities Ultra 60 Mile Race.
Jason took on the mighty challenge of the gruelling 60-mile race – and won by almost one hour and a quarter.
The start was a little later than advertised, meaning that Jason had to push his pace early in the race in order to catch the ferry ahead of his opponents.
He also had to manage the 10 A4 maps and associated directions that competitors had to carry.
Jason had the route on his watch which would have been great but the course had been changed in places so it couldn’t be relied upon.
Once warmed up and heading north, Jason took the decision to follow the coastal road to South Shields rather than on and off the beach as detailed on the map.
This turned out to be a wise decision as the tide was in meaning that he wouldn’t have to double back losing more time.
He felt good and was running light with only a small amount of liquid in his bottles.
At seven miles he looked at his pace and realised he could make the ferry so took the decision to go for it.
Before he knew it, he was approaching South Shields.
A quick look at the map and he dashed through the streets possessed and locked on to any sign that said ferry.
After a few corners and through the market the Marina appeared. The ferry was there, still running he flew straight past the attendant who had his hand held out expecting paymen.
Two minutes later the ferry left for the north bank with Jason being the only runner aboard.
Time to get his breath back and check his maps.
He decided to take it easier on the next section but not lose sight of his half hour time advantage.
It was mostly flat following the national cycle route for about 10 miles giving him time to think about his strategy.
Unfortunately, he had not picked up any fluid from the first checkpoint so was feeling a bit dry.
At mile 21 he caught sight of the Millennium Bridge which would take him back on the southbank, check point two (21.5 miles), and that much needed drink.
Walking the long ascent out of the checkpoint heading south gave him time to bring his fluids back to normal and take on more food. Within half a kilometre he was refuelled and knocking off more miles through Gateshead with a pace that was not unusual Ultra tactics.
Unfortunately, he missed a right turn with all the excitement but got back on track looking forward to 26 miles and being supported by fellow club member Andy Lamplough who had turned out as part of a small team of Harriers to support and encourage Jason along his journey.
Jason reached Angel of the North which was check point three still well ahead of the pack.
Andy Lamplough began his run here where navigation was becoming important as Jason didn’t want to fall into the trap of running off too fast in the wrong direction.
A crucial turn off led them to the long stretch along the disused railway heading west.
From here on a good chat was in order to help knock off the miles.
Feeling great, Jason and Andy we did a decent pace for quite a few miles talking about all things running until they were met by Karl Edwards – then it went to another level.
Entering the woods around Beamish was a great relief as they had been running on Tarmac forfar too long.
The cover from the sun was great too as heat during a race is not ideal.
Just before checkpoint four at 30 miles they had a decent climb and here Jason’s legs were feeling a bit weaker than usual but Karl had to climb it carrying his bike.
With a bit more navigation they ended up on another disused railway track and picked up the pace.
At mile 35 Gail Gould, John Mansfield and Jack Hutton came into view.
The relief to see them was overwhelming. Jason topped up with drinks, new socks and shoes and also a good wipe down.
Andy said his goodbyes and John and Jack took on their supporting roles.
After about 43 miles and checkpoint six they left Durham and headed east along the W2W track and then north for three miles of the worst running surface which pulverised the soles of Jason’s trainers.
John’s alertness spotted the left turn that they needed to get them to the 50 mile point were Sarah Black would be waiting to run the home stretch.
They were greeted by loads of Burn Road Crew out to support Jason.
The last 12 miles felt like 30.
Luckily, Jason could rely on Sarah’s strength to get him to the finish line.
It was hard up to Penshaw Monument – the legs were not faltering, it was Jason’s mind that was suffering at this point.
Gail Gould and Emma Watson joined Jason and Sarah for the last five miles of the 60 mile challenge, encouraging him right to the end.
The fantastic support from club members certainly worked and Jason won the race by well over an hour, claiming first position and much kudos amongst his fellow runners.