On Sunday 22nd July Darryl Carter broke the official record for running the entire length of the Cotswold Way. The record now stands at an incredible 20 hours and 36 minutes!
Read on to find out how he approached the challenge and what motivated him to keep going:
"Itís hard to put into words what a great experience and adventure I had running the Cotswold Way non-stop from 21 to 22 July and breaking the record in the process. It has been my intention to hike the Cotswold Way at some point and also to have a go at a National Trail record so it seemed to be the logical conclusion to do both at the same time.
First of all I have to mention my support crew. I certainly couldnít have achieved the time (or even finished) without the help of them, and they made the experience a whole lot more enjoyable, or should I say Ďless painfulí! Itís certainly important to know the route of the Cotswold Way, so I was relieved to have support from local ultra running friends who had a first-hand knowledge of the course.
We had concerns that the conditions would be too muddy for a serious attempt at the record. Thankfully the rain eased off three days before the day, but I still packed my cross-country shoes just in case. As it turned out the weather was a little too good (!). After meeting my official time-keeper for the start at Bath Abbey we soon found ourselves heading uphill on a busy Saturday afternoon with a temperature closing in on 25c.
For the first 55miles to Painswick I had support from four runners (to navigate and provide record verification). Pete dropped out at 30miles and Mark continued to 55miles. Our main support driver, Dan, would turn up at circa 9mile intervals to provide nutrition, a few words of encouragement and anything else we required. We reached Painswick at 10:30pm after nine and a half hours of what felt like continuous ups and downs over the escarpment. Mark and I were greeted by the crew (and family) who would take me through the night and hopefully to Chipping Campden the following morning. Everyone was in high spirits and the new driver, Scott and runners, Austin and Justin were all keen to get started. My support team were aware that I had dropped behind my own schedule due to a slightly harder anticipated course, and the warm weather. I was also having trouble eating, and had to extend aid stops to get a few more calories on board.
Night running can be quite an adventure. Austin, Justin and I had fun running through woods and over the escarpment with our head-lamps on full beam, on what was a perfectly fresh and clear night. Cleeve Hill was my favourite part of the run, not just because of the lights of the towns that welcomed us as we ran around the edge of the hill, but also the soft surfaces underfoot as my legs were now becoming quite heavy. As we moved on from the Golf Club the sun finally started to rise, which provided a new lift. I had been struggling all night trying to consume food. This didnít improve but the morning light gave me new impetus and I started to think more about finishing and whether or not I could get a new record. Austin, Jason and I had been making occasional calculations to keep the rest of the run more interesting. We were getting increasingly confident of breaking the official record, but a sub 20hr time was starting to look unlikely.
As we ran through the morning I started to once again appreciate the beautiful Cotswold towns and villages we passed through. But we had to press on. The final climb to Broadway Tower seemed a little cruel after everything we had gone through, and by this point I could no longer run even the shallowest of climbs without feeling nauseous. It was another clear and warm day and once we were past the Tower we were keen to press on and get to the finish line.
The run in to Chipping Campden was a little emotional. Iíd managed to comfortably get the course record after a lot of hard work, and had shared a great experience with friends. Iíd like to come back one day and do the Cotswold Way, but at a much more leisurely pace!
Iíd like to thank my support crew of Mark Palmer, Peter Cusick, Sue+Tom, Dan Martin, Scott Garrett, Jason Harrison and Austin Blackburn. Also the time-keepers Paul and Kate for giving up their time and James Blockley from the National Trail office for trail information."
Darryl Carter, July 2012