The Race with the Devil is Back (maybe)

The Race with the Devil is Back (maybe)

Some History

Way back in the days of September 2019, you know, that time before everything went bananas. I entered a 50 km trail ultra called the "Devil's Staircase Ultra Trail Race". Although, to be fair, its full title is actually "Trailhead Get Jerky Devil's Staircase Ultra Trail Race".

If you've never heard of Devil's Staircase, I'm referring to the one in Wales. You can read a little more about it here: https://cyclinguphill.com/100-climbs/devils-staircase/

It's aptly named, because while you're climbing it, you feel like you're going through hell. Although, the speed you descend the other side, it's easy to think that you're being thrown down to hell too.

I had the pleasure of riding this for the first time back in 2019, courtesy of the Merlin Ride, organized by the fantastic people at County Cycles: https://www.county-cycles.com/merlin-sportive/ - This was an incredible event, with awesome views. Worth every second of suffering!

The first time I rode it, I almost made a visit to hell, too. It was a wet and wild day, and my brakes had other plans. I gently squeezed them on the descent to find that the bike had no intention of slowing. Squeezing them tighter still, the bike continued headlong towards a thin metal barrier - the only thing between me and sheer drop off the side. With only a second or two to make a final decision, I pulled the rear brake hard, at which point the bike began to fishtail on the cold, slick surface. I released the pressure a little, hoping to end the slide. I continued at an unpleasant speed towards the barrier. Unclipping one of my feet, I stretched my leg out in front, let the bike slide sideways, and prepped for collision. All I could hear behind me was the screaching of other peoples brakes. The thought process behind that decision was that a broken leg was probably better than the alternative. Thankfully, I wasn't catapulted arse over tit, and we continued on our way.

A solo 50KM?

Anyway, back to the point. As expected, the race was postponed due to that pesky rascal, COVID-19. The first revision of the race date was for the 3rd October 2020. Not long before the event date, another cancellation due to the restrictions.

I'd put in some serious effort in to the training, so rather than let it all go to waste, I plotted a 50KM route and went at it ... solo. Yes, I ran my first ever 50KM, solo.

I completed the route, which had 4,022ft of elevation, in just under 5 hours (4:55:18), rocking through 4,215 calories. It was not a forgiving day weather-wise. With an average wind speed of 17 mph (gusts well over that), and plenty of lashings of rain and hail throughout. I've been in the process of writing about this run for ages, I'll have to finish it soon.

A New Date!

But, here we are in November 2021, when out of the blue, the race organisers contact me, asking if I'm still interested in my entry, as they are planning the race again for April 2022. Well, I can't say no, can I!

I was in a rest and recovery week when the email came through too, so it was pretty good timing. It has also given me time to draft my own training plan from scratch - a full on first.

The Training Plan

A snapshot of the overview of the plan

As you can see, this is an 18 week plan, which will take me right up to race day (hopefully). It has been constructed based on 4 week cycles - which I have found to be right for my training. Three weeks of work, and the fourth a slightly easier recovery.

Before I received the email, I'd been reading a lot about the Lydiard style training, so was actually already planning to experiement with that. Generally, you'd spend a little longer in each phase of the Lydiard style training, but, needs must.

I currently have four "phases".

  • Phase 1: Adaptation / Conditioning - 4 Weeks
  • Phase 2: Base - 4 Weeks
  • Phase 3: Specific - 8 Weeks
  • Phase 4: Taper - 2 Weeks

Each week, I plan on writing about the structure, and how it went. So, make sure you add the blog to your RSS feeds if you want to follow along with the progress.

The End

This was just a quick mind dump about a few things regarding the race. I plan to have some slightly more structured posts about many parts of it soon.

If you'd like to find out more about the race, or even enter it yourself, you can go here:

Trailhead Get Jerky Devil’s Staircase Ultra Trail Race

Let me know if there's anything in particular you'd like me to write about, too!

Photo by Alessio Soggetti on Unsplash