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Grantham Running Club's Limmer hits target for 50 miles

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Grantham Running Club's Chris Limmer took part in the Chiltern Wonderland 50-mile race.

Starting in the village of Goring on Thames in Oxfordshire, the race comprised of a circular route taking in the hills and trails of the Chiltern, with sections on the Chiltern Way, the Ridgeway and the many trails that linked the two.

Chris and the other 211 starters were greeted with a misty and cool start ahead of the race but the forecast was for it get warmer as the day progressed.

Chris Limmer (51687992)
Chris Limmer (51687992)

Chris’s race began just after 8am with the majority of the other competitors all wanting to make the most of the cooler conditions.

The first 10 miles passed with Chris and the other runners all in a positive mood as the route ran along the Thames Path before climbing into the Chilterns, which greeted them with the spectacular trails and largely isolated scenery that inspired the organisers to name it the Chiltern Wonderland 50

Another hour or so later and with the temperature increasing, Chris arrived at the second checkpoint with nearly 18 miles done and with legs starting to warm to the task of carrying him successfully to the end of the course.

The next couple of sections met the pre-race expectations of being the most challenging of the entire course. Longer sections in the warm sunshine, with some technical climbs and descents, made it hard going. Indeed, there was no light relief around the half way point.

Having descended into the small village of Turville (the village best known for being Dibley from the sitcom), there was the steepest hill of the entire course.

A couple of miles later and with his water bottles emptied, Chris arrived at the third checkpoint at Ibstone after nearly four-and-a-half hours and 26 miles of running in real need of refuelling. With a generous handful or two of fruits and nuts and plenty of water, Chris was able to resume his onward progress.

At this point he had climbed from 71st at checkpoint one to 46th and was overtaking others, but did not appear to be losing any positions.

Though the warm weather still made conditions a challenge for the runners, when there was shade and conditions allowed, Chris was able to run well and make up ground on other runners.

Another three hours and 15 miles had passed when Chris arrived at the final checkpoint.

Fully refuelled and with his bottles refilled, Chris pushed on knowing that with a bit of luck and by summoning reserves of both mental and physical strength he could finish in under nine hours.

He had around an hour and 40 minutes to complete the last nine or so miles, but the lack of shade again and narrow trails littered with tree roots threatened to jeopardise his attempt at the sub-nine hour time.

With about two miles or so to go and back on the Chiltern Way that led back to Goring, Chris pushed on, finishing the last of the contents of his water bottles, pumping his arms, lifting the legs and surging on the fast downhill section.

With about half a mile to go, he knew it would be very close and a final lung-busting run through the village got him back to the village hall just before nine hours and in 23rd place.

Although Chris’s official time was 9:00:33, this was due to him stopping a metre or so short of the official timing scanner, he was delighted to have performed so well and to have given everything that he could on the testing course.

In the end, 184 runners completed the course under the 13-hour cut-off.

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