Sidmouth RC duo Kirsteen Welch and Sam Amend complete Wiltshire Ultra Marathon

Sidmouth Running Club duo Sam Amend and Kirsteen Welch after the 33 mile Ultra Marathon in Wiltshire

Sidmouth Running Club duo Sam Amend and Kirsteen Welch after the 33 mile Ultra Marathon in Wiltshire. Picture SRC - Credit: Archant

The Marlborough Down Challenge is a beautiful and challenging event which is a self-navigating, multi-terrain and mostly an off-road, along tracks or footpaths race, writes Hamish Spence.

The full route has around 3,000 feet of elevation gain and takes the runners through some of Wiltshires finest countryside, including The Wansdyke Path, Tan Hill Way, White Horse Trail, and Mid Wilts Way.

There are superb views across the Vale of Pewsey, West Woods and Gopher Wood, with its amazing wild garlic.

It also climbs two of the highest points in Wiltshire at Knapp Hill and at Tan Hill were the long and short courses diverge.

The 33-mile route follows the Kennet and Avon Canal into Devizes, climbs Roundway Hill, Morgan's Hill, and the Cherhill Monument.

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Kirsteen Welch and Sam Amend both entered this Ultra Marathon on advice of their coach Norman Wilson, a GB Coach.

Sam is a GB ultra runner with many years of ultra experience, Kirsteen on the other hand has just the MDC as her first ultra.

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Kirsteen found it very helpful to run with Sam, saying that, had she been running solo, she would have set off too quickly at the start and 'hit the wall' half way around.

They both set off at a steady pace of 8:52 minute miles and kept it all the way through, enabling them to pass many (the remaining) competitors during the last five miles.

This strategy really highlighted how important it is to pace yourself well. Both ladies crossing the finish line together in a time of 4:45:00, which saw them share first place!

Kirsteen feels that this race has given her a massive confidence boost as she was nervous about completing the distance.

She now knows that in future long distance trail races that she can push the pace and run quicker.

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