WOMEN'S CHAMPION - ELAINE BURROUGHS COMPLETED PAN CELTIC 22, 1020 MILES WITH 41325ft ELEVATION, IN 5 DAYS, 17 HOURS, 34 MINUTES.
Here are a few insights from that time.
Having not ridden a road ultra before I just planned within my known variables from multi-day gravel events. I made sure I got at least 5 hours of sleep a night as I hadn’t practised riding without sleep and I made sure I kept eating and staying hydrated.
The event started officially at 7 pm after the neutralised ferry to Ireland, so the temptation to ride through the first night was strong but I stopped at around 1.30 am and slept for a few hours, rolling again by 5am. I tried not to be swayed by what anyone around me was doing and stuck to what I knew would give me and my body the best chance of completing the ride and sleep was a vital aspect of that sustainability.
Around day 3, I saw on Dotwatcher.cc that I was in 3rd place and I was approaching the second checkpoint. Doing some quick sums, I worked out that I could hit the Tarbet ferry in the middle of the day and then split the remaining mileage across 2 instead of 3 days and hit the evening ferry on the Friday, putting me in with a shot of the win. I only ever aimed to finish but as soon as the chance of a podium place became a reality, I started to think about how I could give myself the best chance.
The day before the ferry was 220km of hilly terrain but I had until 9pm to cover the distance so I got a bit more sleep the night before and went slower so as to conserve as much energy as possible. I stopped in Dublin to have a good meal (in fact I had two !) and made a few checks on my bike to make sure it would run as fast and as smooth as possible.
In the end, the final 'sprint' for the finish was the most painful part of the whole event, the adrenaline kicked in and once I launched, I kept going full gas to the finish.
I was incredibly lucky, with the weather and terrain. We only had a couple of rain showers and the usually omnipresent headwinds around the coast of Ireland were light. The Gradient was flawless,with no issues at all, I only needed to lubricate the chain a couple of times as I had decided to use wax rather than a wet lube. I ran tubeless and carried two spare tubes with me that never saw the light of day.
My body was the only uncertainty. My longest ride up to that point had been 200km in training and I was going to be doing that and some, every day for 5 or 6 days. I did have quite a sore undercarriage but then so does everyone who sits on a bike for 16 hours+ a day but I had plenty of 'medication' with me.
I also wanted to ensure that I had time to take in the scenery and really be present in the moment and not just head down churning out the miles. I did listen to music a few times to lift my energy levels but on the whole, I was never bored. I set my sights on the next town or the next Spar shop for food and ….. took it all in.
Everything went to plan and I was lucky enough to come away winning my first road ultra.... quite the surprise and honour considering the field.
So what next you ask? Well let’s just spend a few weeks recovering before I think about that but it has certainly ignited something I may have to revisit again at some point……
Pan Celtic Race Results click here.