If you can complete a marathon, you should be able to complete an ultra of this distance but you may find the following information helpful and, hopefully not too alarming!!
Can I run 48 miles?
The majority of Ultra runners do not run the full distance and will often walk on the uphill sections, or build in regular walk breaks on flat sections (such as 5 minutes every 30 minutes and as tiredness sets in reduce the run sections by 5 minutes). This allows you to use different muscles and will allow you to run further, as well as eat and possibly enjoy the scenery!! Try practicing this run / walk strategy in training on long distance trail runs.
One veteran of Ultras once said, "The first third should feel easy, the second third you run with your body and the last third with your head." However fit or well prepared you are it will be a challenge and you need to be mentally prepared for the fatigue and pain!! Haruki Murakami in his book on running said "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" so enjoy it!
How fast do I need to beat the cut off times?
If you can complete a marathon in 5 hours and use the run / walk strategy you should be able to achieve this; The 12 hour cut off time is the equivalent of 15 minutes per mile. Remember in this type of event where you are running and walking on trails with steep uphill and downhill sections it is the average pace that is important, your speed will vary enormously throughout , but as long as your average pace is kept above 15 minutes per mile you will succeed.
How much training do I need to do?
Many ultra runners find that it is easier to complete these events than race a road marathon as there are changes in terrain and surfaces which target different muscles and are more forgiving than 26 miles of tarmac. You also have time to rest and even refuel your body properly. As this is a single stage race you do not need to be completing long back to back sessions and many will find that there is no need to go beyond the marathon distance in training.
It is advisable to spend some long runs on trail routes, don't worry about speeds or distance just concentrate on time spent on your feet. Allow your body to gradually get used to running for four hours plus, incorporate walking breaks and refueling.
Do I need special clothing?
This ultra is not taking place at altitude or through the night and so normal running gear will be sufficient. Some runners like to wear trail shoes but they are not necessary as most of the trail sections are well managed. Just make sure you are comfortable and if the weather is unsettled you might want to have waterproofs, extra socks, blister plasters or clothes; these can be transported to the mid way check point or you can carry them.
How do I keep fuelled and hydrated?
Remember, you will be burning in excess of 6000 calories and losing at least 4 litres of water; our bodies are not designed to run efficiently without keeping fuelled and hydrated. Even with the best carbo loading and hydration regime your body will only store approximately 2000 calories of energy and will start to become dehydrated after 90 minutes, so you need to be able plan for this to avoid hitting the wall and becoming one of the DNF (did not finish).
It is important to start eating and drinking early on and not waiting till you are depleted, if you feel thirsty it is already too late. Keep to the maxim of little and often; trying to sip liquid every 10 minutes and eating every half hour will help to keep your tank full. This strategy will stop you having to eat or drink large quantities at once and ending up with a slopping stomach.
There is a huge amount of research on what to eat or drink and you need to experiment to see what suits you. Remember that what seems palatable on a two hour run can become inedible after 6 hours! Sweet energy drinks can become sickly, whilst energy bars resemble cardboard! Many runners rely on natural foods such as honey, fruits, nuts, sandwiches etc whilst others prefer gels and products designed for ultra endurance sports or if you are brave try making your own gels and energy bars. Dean Karnases "The Ultramarathon Man" consumes pizzas and cheese cakes whilst tackling his ultra ultras!! Most people seem to prefer to have a selection of foods and drinks to suit their needs as they run; a mixture of sweet foods as well as savoury and salty. Do not leave this to race day, eating on the move needs to be practiced to allow the body to get used to the sensation and you need to feel confident that you can keep your body topped up.
How do I carry food and water?
Some runners like to run light and simply use a bum bag and a couple of hand held bottles which they fill up at check points. On the other hand some prefer to be well prepared and so wear a hydration pack or rucksack. You can decide whether you prefer to run light or carry everything you need and so not need to stop so frequently. There are pros and cons for each. Whatever you decide upon just make sure you practice in training as you need to be prepared to carry your load for 8 plus hours; What seems comfortable for one hour can end up causing painful sores later on.
A word of caution... you might want to carry some toilet paper for those emergencies!!!
There are some useful links in the "Interesting Links" section!
This website does not provide medical advice. Any runner who is not sure of their ability should seek professional medical advice. Round The Rock accepts no liability whatsoever for competitors who do not seek or adhere to professional medical advice. Round The Rock is a serious athletic challenge and any competitor who feels unwell or unable to start or complete the race must withdraw and inform the organisers. The health and safety of all entrants is of paramount importance to us.