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‘Embrace the mud’: a record-breaking start to the season

The Extreme Energy 2013 race season got off to a record-breaking start at last weekend’s Pilgrim Challenge, with Danny Kendall shaving 17 minutes off the previous course record to finish the 64-mile, 2-day ultra-marathon course in 8 hours 49 minutes and 21 seconds, and Annabelle Stearns breaking the women’s record to finish in 10h23.07.

Where last year’s Pilgrim Challenge was memorable for its snow, this year’s race will be remembered by many for its deep, shoe-sucking mud – if you missed the race, get a taste of the action at our Flickr gallery.

Heavy going at the end of day one (not to mention those infamous 289 steps at Box Hill!) saw runners digging deep`into their energy reserves. The same muddy conditions made for a challenging start to day two (we even heard rumours of lost shoes …) – but, inspired by the evening entertainment from motivational speaker, ultra-legend and Enduroman-record breaker Andy Mouncey,  150 of our 239 registered walkers and runners battled on to make it to the end of the gruelling course.

“My favourite comment this weekend was from a smiley cyclist who very cheerily told me to ”Embrace the mud”. Great advice – there was little else you could do!” recalled Extreme Energy Envoy Michelle Double (12h05.25)

18 hours separated the first of the runners and the last of the walkers, with the final finisher coming home to resounding cheers after a highly impressive 26 hrs 49 minutes out on the course. From veteran UTMB points-collectors (well done to [NAME], who collected [his/her] final qualifying points at this year’s Pilgrim) to ultra-marathon virgins, the field included walkers and runners at every stage in their ultra careers, with a 48-year age gap between the oldest and youngest finishers. As second-placed lady, Jennifer Bradley (11h37.17), wrote on her blog Running and Baking:

“This weekend isn’t just about the racing … XNRG create a really inclusive, encouraging atmosphere for everyone and it was a lovely moment when Andy’s talk was halted about 8pm to cheer in Day one’s last three finishers (still smiling!) who must’ve been out there for 12 hours.”

The Pilgrim Challenge is the first of the six multi-day ultras we’ve got in store for 2013 – so, for those of you who missed out, there’s still time to take part. Coming up next is The Cotswold Way, 57 miles over two days on 6/7 April.

All our ultra marathon challenges are all-inclusive – minibus transfers to and from the race; overnight accommodation; square meals in the evening and morning and all the checkpoint goodies you need to keep you going are included in the entry fee. You compete – we’ll do the rest!

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