Race Report: Matt Daly at the Dukeries 40

Created by : Tom Shaw On : Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:48
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Race Report Dukeries 40

Well, Dukeries 40 was the first ultra run I did two years ago, and I said I wanted to do a write up after that and never did so two years on after a race I just keep thinking about and smiling I’m going to have a proper go at it……….
So, 9 weeks before I’d returned to Sherwood Pines for the Rasselbock Running back yard ultra and managed to banish the demons of the previous year (22 laps) by completing 26 laps, going beyond the 100-mile holy grail. After that, training had been ok, I’d been enjoying intervals and returning to track but had got a bit of tightness in my hamstring from maybe pushing too soon. I didn’t quite manage a couple of back-to-back longer runs that were on my plan though and my longest 20 mile run was one of those really tough ones where I just had no energy and was left thinking how on earth can I run double that distance at a faster pace. That said I did go into the race feeling fit and had the confidence from the BYU but the worry of the Hamstring issue. I’d also covered the bits of the route I was worried about in training after getting lost in 2022 (my fault) so that was one less thing to worry about. I had said I wanted to run a good time and try and win it but didn’t feel too pressured like before a marathon, felt quite chilled and slept well.
Race Day
Porridge, SIS beta drink and a couple of coffees and we were off to Walesby, making it in fine time with 15 minutes to go before the start. I had left two 500ml softflasks with tailwind at the Bulmers the night before for Holly to expertly hand me from her spot at the Hazel Gap aid station.

I also prepped another three the night before (they definitely taste better this way) for Hannah to switch me at our pre-arranged meeting spots and I’d bought a new race belt that would hold one bottle and a couple of gels to try and keep it minimal. 
So off we set at 7:30am and within a mile we were pretty much a front three, having a bit of a chat and being a bit surprised that nobody doing the 30 had gone out a bit quicker in front of us. We settled in the first few miles and then crossed into Clumber to run across Freeboard Lane. Chatting more over this section, probably weighing each other up a little bit I realised that Ste Lord was the chap Tom Shaw had spoken about that had gone out in front of him the year he set the course record but didn’t finish that year and that Matt Cummings had run a brilliant 2:50 marathon at Manchester recently but his furthest distance was 31 miles. Ste had done a lot more of the long stuff and had the aura of a very strong experienced runner, I thought anyone finishing in front of him would win it. We all flew through Hazel Gap with Holly switching bottles for me quicker than an F1 pit crew and off we went into the 10 mile loop of Sherwood Forest. This loop went so fast as we all stayed together, at this point the pace was quicker than I had planned and my heart rate quite high, but I decided the benefits of staying with the group were worth it as we were still having a couple of mind games amongst ourselves about the pace and paying for it later on.


Another expert pitstop from Holly saw me leave Hazel Gap leading the race for a short while until Matt came past me leading the way on the road section and through Welbeck. I found the road section tough weirdly and had to make a conscious effort not to go too fast racing Matt with Ste just behind us. Over the top into Creswell is one of my favourite parts and was looking forward to seeing Hannah Battenberg and Rory for the first time since the start. A hug from both a bottle change and half an orange from the aid station and I was off again, Ste had hardly stopped as well and Matt was just behind us. We headed over the road and back up through Welbeck, heading up Drinking Pit Lane. I walked up the Sandbanks and Ste ran and pulled away as Matt ran and caught me up. At this point I thought right I need to push now because I don’t want Ste to get away and as it got muddier, I knew Matt might struggle a bit more with his road shoes, so I set about catching Ste back up and strangely after 25 odd miles I finally felt like I had settled into the race. We passed marathon distance and amazingly my splits got faster as I did catch Ste and lost Matt a little bit. Then from crossing the road towards Clumber, to Trumans Lodge down the road to Clumber and across the harder than it looks Lime Tree Avenue me and Ste were pretty much shoulder to shoulder, stride for stride which is one of those running memories I’ll never forget. As we reached the end of Lime Tree Avenue Hannah was there again scaring some dog walkers with her “come on Tickle” shouts as Rory napped in the car. Here I said to Ste if I don’t see you again finish strong as I grabbed a drink, gel and my last bottle. A bit of luck with traffic meant Ste couldn’t really cross the road and that coupled with him seemingly slowing down so we could stay together meant we ran onto Clumber lake, once again shoulder to shoulder. Another uphill section through the cow field to the last aid station saw Ste pull out another short lead as we both ran straight past the last aid station and onto the very tough home stretch. Passing a group of Harriers here gave me the boost I needed to once again push on and catch Ste back up and he said to me “we are both absolutely smashing this”, full of mutual respect for each other at this point, also knowing any major drop now and Matt will be on us. Feeling the early pace now I continued down towards Elkesley passing more amazing runners congratulating and encouraging us until we took the right turn past Plevins up another incline. Again, Ste showed his strength uphill as I was reduced to a walk and this time there was no closing the gap. I’d stayed with him for nearly 36 miles and was now on my own and had to dig deep, this is the point of doing the ultras I suppose to find out more about yourself, a bit of soul searching, thinking of those who love and support you, taking inspiration from recent marathon runners etc meant I did compose myself again and kept going even managing a bit of a sprint finish to cross the line in 5:19:54, a minute and six second behind the brilliant Ste. Hugs for Hannah and Rory make me pretty emotional whilst catching a glimpse of the clock behind I say something along the lines of “that time is disgusting”, absolutely proud of what I’ve achieved and not even bothered that it was only second place. Before we know it, Matt is crossing the line on his first ultra race in a magnificent time, and you can see how genuinely happy me and Ste are for him. Two top guys who pushed me beyond what I thought I could do.


Also over the moon to see Henry Brady smash it with a big pb and well done all the other Harriers who competed over both distances.
Post Race
Now for some recovery time before we start again. I’ve been buzzing for days after, but I still want to crack a 2:45 marathon with a pipe dream of a 2:40 championship time before I’m too old. The ultra scene I really love though and having only dipped my toes in I think my goals have got to be Robin Hood 100 in 2026 and 36 laps at a BYU when I feel ready. 
Thanks Ronnie Staton and all the wonderful volunteers for putting on such a fantastic event!

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