17-year-old Morgan Wylie ran the 152km ultramarathon unsupported, setting a new Hadrian’s Wall Record with a time of 16 hours 7 minutes. Beating the previous record of 16 hours 25 minutes set by ultra runner Jacob Snochowski in 2016. Here is Morgan’s story.
At 3:30 am 25th May 2019, I woke in Bowness-On-Solway, had breakfast and prepared my gear. 4:40 am, at sunrise, I walked out onto the country road and started running East.
The first step was to run through and beyond Carlisle, however, 2 hours in I followed a sign turning left running down the track only to see it led to the sea, I had taken a wrong turn. Having to run back to the same sign, I had wasted time running an additional 6km, I was angry, but there was no time to dwell on it, and I now had to run faster to make up for it.
Not long after my mistake I was in the City of Carlisle, this gave me a massive boost of energy because regardless of my mistake I was making real progress. However in the city, I managed to get lost again, but I figured if I ran to the castle, the wall would be nearby!
My plan worked, and I managed to find the wall again, I was on a clear path now and could up my pace. I decided I was now going to try and follow the wall rather than trail signs as that way I thought I couldn’t go wrong. I was now running through open meadows and with no cloud or cover I was sweating in the full heat of the sun, and I was grateful of having the Duro 6 running pack which includes a reservoir. With great relief I passed the marathon mark, I had done it bang on 4 hours which I was pleased with.
The Meadows were covered in little flying bugs, I had to wear sunglasses to shield my eyes.
After stopping for only a few minutes to get my food from my pack I got going again. I allowed myself an hour of fast hiking while I refuelled on the go. I was now ready to properly ultra run, this is where you run for 90% of the time but when you come to steep hills you hike up them. You gain more efficiency that way while not losing any speed.
I really got into the flow of it at this point with good speed as well. I ran through many villages, ran up plenty of bridges and up hundreds of hills. Before I knew it I was halfway in and I had 8 hours on the clock so I knew I was on track. However, I knew the steepest sections were still to come…
As I was running into more remote country Hadrian’s Wall was becoming more intact.
Sewingshields Crags 325m
Around 9 hours in it got really hilly, this was the famous part of Hadrian’s Wall and there were many hikers. Despite hill after hill, I was smashing them out and before long I was standing on top of a very windy last big hill with a 30km stretch of downhill ahead of me.
When I went into a pub to refill my reservoir the bar woman laughed at me because of how knackered I looked. I told them I didn’t have far to go because I was going to Newcastle, they laughed at me again because in reality that was still a whole marathon to go.
I was now running alongside or on the road to Newcastle, trails are more interesting but I could count down the miles off the road signs as I went along.
Outskirts of Newcastle
After a lot of road running and taking on more hills I was looking down on Newcastle City. For a few minutes, I felt relaxed but when I looked at my phone and watch I realised how big Newcastle is and how little time I had left. If I was to beat the current record, I was going to have to run fast.
The wall finishes in Wallsend; I found this part the hardest as I had lost the path again, I just kept running East, it felt like the city went on forever. I had an hour to go, and I was sprinting, I had to beat the record.
Amazingly I managed to find my way through the busy city centre and could now follow signs to Wallsend. While sprinting as fast as I could, I spotted a sign ‘Welcome to Wallsend’. I passed the sign, and I had done it, I paused my watch, and it read 16 hours 7 minutes I had broken the record by 18 minutes!
Wallsend, East Coast of UK & End of Hadrian’s wall!
Map of my journey
The moment I stopped my legs seized up, I could barely walk. Writing this more than a week later, I’m still recovering.
When I told people my plans beforehand, many people told me I was crazy or didn’t believe I would even attempt it. But I knew as soon as I started that nothing was going to stop me from getting to Wallsend. There’s a saying I found a few years ago that’s used in the NAVY SEALs, when it got hard, I thought of this.
“When you think you’re done and have reached your limit, you’re actually only 40% done.”
I made many mistakes along the way, resulting in me running further due to wrong turns and instead of making excuses, I just kept going. I pressed on, growing in confidence every hour that passed. I ran the last marathon in 3 hours 40 minutes enabling me to, eventually break the record.
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