Winning My First Ultra Race

It’s 6:45am on Saturday morning and I’ve just finished my last lap at the Dusk Til Dawn Ultra 12Hour Solo race. I’ve been running for almost 12 hours but somehow feeling fresh and strong. I haven’t checked my results during the race so I headed over to see how I actually did and how many laps the first lady did so I know how much more I need to train.

Winning My first ultra race - Dusk Til Dawn 2014 - medal and trophy

As I was waiting for the computer to display the 12Hour Solo Women’s results, some runners stopped by and asked me if I won as I was apparently looking really strong….

Although I felt strong and really enjoyed the race…I laughed… and “heh I don’t think so..” was my honest reply to them.

I looked back at the PC screen as the Women’s Solo results were on. I obviously looked at the the bottom of the list and slowly moved to the top…

1. LENKA ISTVANOVA Number: 33 Laps: 11

Winning My first ultra race - Dusk Til Dawn 2014

I thought….LOL, OMG, WTF, (and so on) ….I couldn’t believe it at all!!!

I won it
I won the bloody race
I won a race for the first time
I won ULTRA race, I won my first ULTRA trail race!!!

So yeah I will never ever forget Friday 9th and Saturday 10th August 2014; the day I won my first Ultra Trail race. I’ve never been so proud of myself; seriously the feeling was better than when I finished my Master’s degree and graduated as the best student of my class. Winning my first Ultra race is definitely on the top of my list of achievements.

Winning My first ultra race - Dusk Til Dawn 2014 - pre-race photo

Freestak Team before the race

My Race Nutrition

Gels and Bars

Before the race I asked Julie for advice on nutrition – what and how often should I really eat. She is experienced ultra trail runner and the best person to know this sort of stuff. She told me to keep eating every lap – have a bite of some bar or have a gel or a banana – basically keep eating even if you’re not hungry as running on empty will soon get you. I kept stopping at food/drink station and always had a glass of water and a bite of something.

I love Nakd and 9bars so I stocked up on these as they are very easy to eat while running. I think I had 2-3 Nakd and 2 9bars.
TORQ gels – I’ve never tried these before and I’ve been a big GU fan but I’m now a TORQ convert. I’ve never had such good tasting gels. Seriously, the taste is amazing; apple crumble is the best flavour. I had 4 of them during the whole race; first one after the second lap, second one after the 5th lap, third one after the 9th lap and the fourth one just before my last lap.

I kept drinking only water and had 2 cups of coffee to keep me going and that’s pretty much it.

Home-made food

As I wasn’t sure if there would be any food, I cooked some wholegrain pasta with kale. I also made myself 2 rye bread sandwiches with peanut butter and cocoa powder which I ate on my 15minute food break.

My Race Kit

Salomon Exo S-lab Twinskin Skort

THE BEST RUNNING SKIRT EVER! Pricey but totally worth the money especially if you have problems with chaffing. I have big thighs and finding 2 in 1 shorts or skirts is really impossible. The inner shorts always move up or are simply not long enough to prevent chaffing. I’ve heard great reviews about the Salomon skort and hey, elite runners such as Emelie Forsberg and Ana Frost wear them on every race so I thought I would give them a go.

And I’m so glad I did it. The skort features inner compression shorts which are long enough and they don’t move up; they stay and skirt!!! I’ve run over 55miles in them in one go and no chaffing at all!

I was well chuffed; I’m definitely going to buy more…just need to figure out where I’m gonna get the money from. You can buy it from £100-£120 (Salomon site) but I managed to get them for £60 so total bargain.

Salomon Exo S-lab Twinskin Skort in Red and grey colour

ashmei 100% Merino Jersey

I knew merino gear before and wore some winter merino underwear when I used to ski back at home but I’ve never ever tried it on my runs. I was given ashmei merino short sleeve jersey to try out and was really shocked how good it was!

ashmei merino running jersey - red

The jersey is made of superfine merino wool which regulates your body temperature and therefore keep you cooler in hot weather and warm when it’s cold. I’m one the people who wouldn’t believe it until I tried it. As we ran for the whole night plus it was raining the weather got cooler but I wasn’t cold at all. I kept running in the t-shirt for the whole race. It dried out very quickly which is apparently thanks to the mix of merino and carbon fibre which enhances the performance of the wicking and drying of the material so that you stay drier longer.

The key advantages I noticed are;

  • it wicked and dried really quickly
  • it didn’t smell
  • keept me cool during the rain and night and cool when it was warmer

Adidas Adizero XT4

As a part of Adidas Team at TR24 I was given these beauties for free. They’re super-light and comfy and I run around 60km in them before the Ultra. The grip is really good with Continetal rubber making them perfect for muddy trail races.

Winning my first Ultra Race - My Race Kit - Adidas Adizero XT 4 - continental rubber Winning my first Ultra Race - My Race Kit - Adidas Adizero XT4


Have you got any ultra races planned? 



Lenka Istvanova


  1. You ran the same loop over and over again for 12 hours?!? That sounds mental! 🙂 I have to say I’m intrigued to try something like that though cause mental is great 🙂

    Amazing result for you! I’m in awe.

    • Thank you! To be honest it didn’t even feel so bad and actually I quite enjoyed it and got to know the course so good that I could run it with my eyes closed. But I guess I would struggle to run 400m loops for 24 or even 12 hours. Definitely recommend it; I’ve started doing these 12 and 24 hour races and really like them; the atmosphere is awesome! Many runners actually come with whole families so you can deffo take your kids and they can enjoy camping adventures while cheering up on their mummy 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *