Devised with the aim of raising money for three different charities, the Roly’s Run event offers a choice of a 15, a 20 or a 40 mile distance. The organisers use the proceeds from the events they put on to make donations to Papworth Hospital, the UK Sepsis Trust and Help for Heroes. They also encourage participants to raise sponsorship money which all then gets added into the pot and distributed between the charities. It’s a great way of helping out some very worthy caused whilst putting on a race that can be enjoyed by runners or all abilities, or even walkers.
Kirsty Drewett has always been one who likes a challenge. In fact she loves throwing herself in at the deep end, so of course, she decided to go for the 40 mile option.
It was certainly a big undertaking but Kirsty possesses a steely determination and when she has her heart set on something, she invariably makes it happen. This was upping the anti slightly though on anything she’d done previously.
She did run the Mendip Marauder 30 Miler at the beginning of September, completing the course in just over 6 hours and 9 minutes. That made her joint 3rd female and 20th overall out of 80 competitors.
The route incorporated over 4,750ft of elevation, making it full of steep and energy sapping climbs. Kirsty handled it well though and it made her realise she was a much stronger runner than she thought she was.
A couple of weeks later she went to recce the route for the Old Harry Ultra that was being put on by Badger Trail Events in October. In that she covered 32.9 miles in just under 5 hours and 5 minutes, giving her an average pace of 9:16 minutes per mile.
That was a much flatter route than in most of her previous long distance races and it was also a lot more road than what she’d normally go for.
Kirsty resume also features some of the toughest trail marathons in the Dorset region as well, including the Purbeck Marathon, the Hellstone, the Dorset Ooser and Giants Head. In those races, she’d got used to being out there for a long time and managing her effort according the distances she had to do and the elevation she had to scale.
Despite all those hugely tough events, the Roly’s Run was going to be her longest one yet and it was an extremely challenging trail route as well, incorporating over 4,000ft of elevation. There were at least eight big, steep climbs to tackle along the way so keeping some energy in reserve was vital.
Given the success of her Mendip Marauder 30 Miler and Old Harry Ultra recce, Kirsty wasn’t daunted by the distance and went into it with no fear. Reaching the first checkpoint in 1 hour 11 minutes, she was in 8th place overall and was 3rd female at that point. Of course, there was still a long way to go and everything could change as she went to tackle the more meatier climbs.
The conditions were testing as it was extremely muddy and there was also some flooding on the course as well. Kirsty was still holding her position by the next checkpoint, although a couple of the runners behind her had made inroads into catching her up.
Reaching the next checkpoint in 2 hours 20 minutes, she’d been caught and overtaken a couple of guys who were behind her. By the time they got to the fourth checkpoint though, Kirsty had caught them back up and they were running together.
Those guys were called Dan Tracey and Neil Richmond and by the time they reached the next point, they’d gone on ahead and opened up a six minute gap over Kirsty. She was now 3 hours and 2 minutes into the race and had reached 16.6 miles.
By the time she hit the next checkpoint, Kirsty had found another running buddy. This time it was Matthew Galante who had caught her up. They were still close to each other at the next station, which was 4 hours 11 minutes in.
Matthew pushed on ahead after that was two minutes ahead of Kirsty by the next checkpoint which was 5 hours 9 minutes in. She’d now completed 27.7 miles.
At the next aid station, Kirsty got to enjoy some delicious Christmas cake before soldiering on the final checkpoint at Meanstroke. She’d now been going for 6 hours 33 minutes and had covered 34.9 miles. It was a really impressive effort from Kirsty and she now had only five miles left to go.
Of course, there were still a couple of touch inclines to get over which must have felt like mountains at the time for Kirsty took it all in her stride. Fortunately the last couple of miles were mostly downhill and Kirsty finished strongly to get to the line in 7 hours 28 minutes and 22 seconds.
That put her in 11th place and she had indeed come in as 3rd female, with a 35 minute advantage over Kate Small who was 4th lady and 13th overall in 8:03:19.
There were some excellent performances from the women in the race, with Alice Robinson finishing in 3rd place overall, recording a time of 6:42:28. Eloise Stradling was 2nd female and 6th overall in a time of 7:01:07.
The winner of the race was Calvert Howard who crossed the line in 5 hours 38 minutes and 19 seconds. He was 40 minutes ahead of Paddy Prout who came 2nd in 6:18:25.
For Kirsty though, it was another run where she’d demonstrated tremendous endurance and a real unequivocal sense of determination and spirit. She even suffered an epic fall on the 28th mile but picked herself up and carried on to complete the course. It will certainly be a memorable one for Kirsty and an achievement that she can look back on with immense pride.