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How do I play British Tanks? Tea Bias and Masochism- British 2.7-5.7: An Aussie Mantis Review.

How do I play British Tanks? Tea Bias and Masochism- British 2.7-5.7: An Aussie Mantis Review.

Section 0: Important stuffs.


Guess who's back. Back again. Manti's back. Tell a friend. Or really just u/Verb_Noun_Number, who enjoys reading these reviews, of which I have done precisely one other. I have no credidentials for this. I am not some God of War. I am not a 6-trillion-years-of-tank-playtime player. I simply honestly enjoy British 3.0/3.74.0/4.7/5.3, and I want to teach people what I know from those BRs so that they may enjoy it too, as many people have difficulty playing at these BRs. This will not be a short post.
NOTE TO ALL READERS:
Now, first off, a disclaimer. I'm not the best tanker, nor the best pilot. If you see something you believe is wrong, tell me, and I'll see what I can do about it.
This post was made in response to u/thermicterror 's post on, "how do British Tanks compete at higher tiers?" I was intending on writing a nice, short little comment. The user claims that british tanks aren't fun to play above 2.7 and for that reason, they have stated that they will not play until Gaijin makes them "more fun to play", but... I know for a fact that they indeed are fun to play, as long as you have your head screwed on.

I realised that maybe- JUST MAYBE- some other people could benefit from this, so I decided to write a larger post. Fueled by tea and some Chicken Crimpy-flavoured Shapes, and in between watching John Scorese flicks and Blackadder... I began to write.

Table of contents:

Section I: Introductory Preamble
Section II: Dr. Solid Shot
Section III: Tactics and Tricks
  • Subsection A: How to into run away?
  • Subsection B: How Pley Chorchell?
Section IV: Doing your Lineups

Section I: Introductory Preamble

Or, the one where Mantis tells you his Life's Story.
A scene from when I was grinding this account for the first time...
And here I am now... a million miles away. Don't ask where all my GE went or you'll be disgusted at how much premium time and how many low-tier premiums I've been buying.
When I was a young boy grinding out the British Tree for the first time, there was only one thing that I had in mind- Garth Ennis's Battlefields series, or more exactly, the three arcs he wrote on British Tanks- Tankies (featuring a Churchill Mk IV/VII in France, 1944), The Firefly and his Majesty (Rhineland, Late '44/Early '45, No points for figuring out what that was written about) and The Green Fields Beyond (Centurion Mk III in Korea, 1952, featuring the Glosters). These all had the same character- this guy called Sargeant Stiles- who had been in practically every tank that the British had ever done, and, to quote him and his Geordie accent- "Ah've had ev'ry single woon o' them shot oot frae under me."
I remember the scene where he and another veteran from the Second World War- his Tank Squadron's commander- discuss taking a crack at a Tiger II with the gun on the Centurion III, and about its armour- and seeing as my family history is deeply involved with the Korean War and the War in Vietnam, where the Aussies would once more take the Centurion into battle against the NVA and the Viet Cong, I decided that I wanted it. The only thing that stood between me and that was the entirety of the British tree.
I was so sure that the grind would be so easy, and indeed it was good to a point. I got my Crusaders straight off the bat, along with the Daimler AC II and the valentine I, and learned to love them. I even could say that I had a whole 1:1 K/D in the Crusader III. Looking back now, that's... hardly something to brag about, especially now at level 100, but at the time... it was everything. I felt invincible.
Then I hit the cromwells and something inside me just died. Now, keep in mind- this was long, long before the Crusaders and the Valentine I were tier II, the Stuart I and III didn't exist at all, the Matilda III was a tier II tank that stood alone, the Val XI and IX were unfoldered, and I really had no idea what I was doing. My typical game plan was:
My extreme tactical prowess on display. Mind-bogglingly complex, I know.
Understandeably, I was flanked, backstabbed, and very much bamboozled. I would spawn in my cromwell only to die to something I couldn't see, spawn in my crusader and die again, and then in my A13 3RTR and die yet again. I shot at enemies and they never died on the first hit, and for some reason every time they shot at me, I got one-shotted immediately, and those (at the time) annoying little russian fleabags in their T-34s sat in points laughing as bounced 6-pounder shell after 6-pounder shell off their UFP, before they just stopped, stared and then I disappeared off the face of the earth. Years onward, I tried again. Again, I got to the same point with the Cromwell and the Crusader, and then died horribly. I gave up entirely because it simply wasn't fun.
Eventually, though... I came back. Here's the story of how I learned to love Britain.

Section II: Dr Solid Shot

Or, how I Learned to Stop Panicking and Aim for the Turret.

Pop Quiz!

You popped around a corner, and then a wild tank appeared and now it's staring quite threateningly at you and yet it has not fired yet. You are now in a situation that we experienced players call, "having a significant emotional event". Which of these would you do?

A: Panic. B: Panic and shoot at his general area to drive him off and hopefully hit. C: Give up and hold J to bail out D: "Oh, wait a minute. He's stopped. He's given up!" E: "DRIVER, REVERSE! REVEEEEERSE!" F: Aim at the turret and shoot G: Aim at the front plate and shoot.

Through careful scientific determination of people's responses to Significant Emotional Events in War Thunder Ground RB, I have determined that the most common things that people do are, in order, A, B, and E.
G and F are the most uncommon. As easy as it sounds, it's surprisingly hard to actually calm down and aim properly when you're panicking, which is generally the standard reaction of most players when you find something in front of you or something hits you. With most tanks, if you shoot, you penetrate and you immediately one-shot, because har har, HE filler. It's kind of like FPSes. You pop around the corner and you find someone, so you shoot back in their vicinity with your Generic FPS SpunkGargleWeeWee Level 42069++ xX_Assault_Rifle_Xx, backpedalling faster than a sane man from a Coronavirus Party, and hope you don't die.
(Again, much like the sane man running from the Coronavirus party.)

Unfortunately for you, you're British. One of the most distinguishing factors of the British Tree is its near-complete reliance on Solid Shot. Prior to the addition of the (quite frankly useless) 2-pounder APHE, the only explosive-filler rounds in the entire british tech tree were found on the Sherman II (an improved M4A1 with APCBC(HE) and T45 APCR). The rest of the APHE was found on the A1E1 Independent (Gunboat Diplomacy at its finest) and the Grant I (An M3 Lee with a roomier turret in the British Tree). Even now with the 2-pounder APHE, Solid shot is frankly just better to use, because 2-pounder APHE does less damage than the 2-pounder AP as the explosion doesn't create an appreciably larger number of fragments. This same issue in real life was the entire reason why the British eschewed explosive filler in favour of solid shot, in combination with a defective batch or two of M61 75mm shot making the shells act more like HE.
Aiming is tantamount, and frankly, when you're a new player to ground, it's hard to aim properly at the turret in an acceptable time frame in order to get the firepower kill on the enemy before they shoot half your crew out and leave you as a pillbox/expensive mobile roadblock/a burning wreck. However, when you're panicking, it's hard to breathe, shoot back, and aim while you're doing it. You need to get yourself into routines. You need procedures to fall back on, especially when you've gotten shot at by an enemy and you have NO CLUE how to react. As I keep saying- British tanks cannot simply shoot back at an enemy and get an instantaneous one-shot. You need to respond and aim, instead of reacting and just shooting, so start establishing these Standard Operating Procedures. as you go. My personal one is S I R I U S.
S top and breathe. Calm down and start looking for a way out. I dentify Direction in which the enemy is. Look for the gunsmoke/tracemuzzle flash. R everse/advance to cover (whichever is closer). I dentify target. U se your brain/rangefinder and aim properly, preferably at the enemy's turret/gun. S hoot.

These kinds of routines, once you drill it into yourself, with practice, become second nature. You'll be shooting back and getting kills in no time, tanker.
A tank is a relatively large armoured block with a gun and an engine. Without an engine, it becomes a pillbox, without a gun, it is a mobile radio vehicle, without either it is a rather top-heavy metal paperweight. You need to disable these to make it a sitting duck (top-heavy roadblock).
To do this, you need to know where to aim, especially with solid shot- you need to fire at places that get kill the gunner first, and preferably the driver at the same time, so you can finish off. For this- Protection analysis is amazing. Click on any tank and go to "customization" or "preview". Check that the sidebar is open and set the tab to display "armour".
Just below it all is a tab called "Protection Analysis", with which you can view all the different ways in which you can shoot at a tank. You can change the gun you're shooting at it with and the tank that is shooting, as well as looking at all the different types of ammunition it has. 500m is typically a nice standard engagement range. However, most fights do happen from below 400, especially if you're defending a capture point like the northern points on Jungle. I typically set it to 700 because I favour sniping and long-distance defensive engagement. Let rip. Keep in mind that you won't typically get a nice front-on shot so be prepared for that too! Using this tool, you can discover some weak spots on an enemy tank that you can shoot at! These include but are not limited to:
This really flat bit on the StuG IIIG (kills the driver, gunner and commander in one shot with solid shot 17 pr, or even 6-pounder in some cases.
This section of the Panther's hull just below that bevel is vulnerable to APDS from the Comet/Challenger. One good hit there kills the Driver, Gunner and engine in one fell swoop, and can also kill the commander and loader if you aim right.
The fat turret ring on a T-34 (instant firepower kill due to disabling turret ring)

Section III: Tactics and Tricks

Or, "what in Tesco's name is a reverse gear? I just want a rock."

In this section, I will discuss tactics and... things you can do. General tips that you'll get from everywhere apply- things like "use the binoculars from behind cover to see things in front of you", "Don't charge across open fields in a straight line or you'll die to snipers", "Take less than 30 rounds of ammo, or typically around 20-25" and "be careful around forested areas" not withstanding.

Regarding crew skills- the same applies for any tank crew here. Keen vision is not important, field repair is a "meh" priority- it's good to have, but it shouldn't take precedence over the Big Four- Targeting/Rangefinding for your gunner,weapon reloading for your loader, and Leadership for your TC. The first three are life-and-death, and the fourth boosts all of them.

At 2.7, most guns you face are 50mm and below, but once you breach 3.0/3.3, you start meeting things like T-34s and panzer IV F2s, which have formidable 75/76mm guns that can practically obliterate you with one shot if you're not careful and you overexpose- and there's half the battle. Play conservatively- not aggressively. Most of your tanks have paper armour and you generally only have decent mobility and a good gun going for you, which means that you're fucked as soon as you exit covego into anywhere open without a plan for what you're doing, since you can't one-shot anything from the side unless you hit an ammo rack, and you absolutely need to aim at specific parts of enemy tanks in order to get a kill, unlike with other tanks at the same BR such as the aforementioned Panzer IV and T-34. The point is that aiming matters- and since your gun reloads fast, you can typically put two shots into the enemy when they've only managed to fire one and start reloading for the next follow-up shot.
In game, as in real life, the British often have some of the most capable anti-tank weapons with high penetration values compared to other guns at their tier- a stand-out example is having a 17-pounder gun at 3.0 and 4.0, BRs where most guns struggle to penetrate above 100/150mm, much less nearly 200mm of penetration, and having a 6-pounder at 2.7- a BR where most armour is still around the 40mm-50mm mark, and you can punch just over the hundred and twenty millimeter mark. However, none of these shells have APHE. Also, as a general rule, if it's got a good gun for its BR, typically the armour is absolute dogshit.
Britain thus rewards you for aiming well at weak spots, knowing what part of an enemy tank is which, figuring out where to shoot the Big Scary Fat Man to ammo rack him/get a firepower kill, and typically if you aim right and have the experience you'll be getting one-shot after one-shot as comically large/fast/high-penetration shells for the BR go in one side of an enemy tank and out the other, or kill the driver, the gunner and the commander and then (of all things) destroys the engine too, because fuck your ability to run away or fight back, you stay right the fuck there and take this second follow-up shot in a ridiculously short reload time as I sip my tea, please and thankyou. What do I mean by "comically short"? The 2-pounder reloads in less than 3 seconds, the 6-pounder on the Crusader and Churchill in 4 seconds sharp, the 17-pounder in 5.9 and the 3.7-inch QF gun on the QF Ram at 5.3 that fires a full-bore 94mm shell penetrating 204mm/8in. of armour in 6 seconds. You don't need to bother with worrying too much about KILLING the tank on the first shot, because if you at least get a firepower kill, you'll be able to follow it up with a second shot relatively quickly.

Subsection A: How do I actually run away?

Or, "How do I use a 3km/h reverse gear?"

Something you may have noticed from the Cromwell is that British tanks should not ever reverse.
Want to have fun with British tanks? Don't charge headlong into the fray. Or, for the visual learners amongst you...
What a fucking surprise. Younger me's tactical brilliance was in fact mistaken. Who could've ever known?
Since you play Britain, you need to keep your situational awareness up. While it may be tempting to take your cromwell/Crusader and rush a point and shooty shooty bang bang, this is tantamount to suicide with your thin armour and inability to run in the other direction away from cover. Don't rush the point. Don't head STRAIGHT towards the gunfire at maximum speed or you'll just get thwacked.
As a famed British Philosopher once said in his famed treatise on the meaning of life-
Don't do it, don't you try it baby, Don't do that, don't-don't-don't, Don't do that, You got a good thing going now, Don't do it, don't do it, don't- Don't try suicide, Nobody's worth it! Don't try suicide, Nobody cares! Don't try suicide, You're just gonna hate it! Don't try suicide, Nobody gives a damn!
- Freddy Mercury, "The Game", Chapter 7, 1980.

But how does one... not commit suicide?

Something you may have encountered is that in forested areas you get blasted by tanks that are well-camouflaged, and the first you know of their existence is when their shell smacks into you. How do you defend against something like that? The thing with this is that you just need to look hard. Don't be the first to push- and if you are, look around real hard. Dead giveaways of enemy tanks include random barrels sticking out of bushes, antennae sticking out from behind rocks or near trees that there shouldn't be, and of course, smoke kicked up by a muzzle flash. Generally, they won't be moving, either, so aim carefully and shoot. Use the binoculars and sniper scopes to confirm whether they are tanks or not. The first few times you do these you'll be playing a game that I used to play, called, "Is that bush/rock a tank?" Sometimes you'll jump at shadows and shoot at rocks and bushes, but with practice, you'll be able to spot and destroy the enemy before they do the same to you.

In urban areas, stop and look both ways before you cross the street.
No, seriously.
Pictured: Your Churchill after you don't look both ways on a street in Vietnam, Advance to the Rhine, Berlin or any other map with streets and junctions.
When you're going towards a point, often you don't expect that little @#*$ing @%$* @$+^% #&$*@&!!!! who parked in a spot just around the corner who you don't see and get sidepenned by. Especially with British tanks, whose tanks already aren't known for their particularly impressive armour- with the exception of the Big Boys like the Matilda in Tier II and the Churchill III/VII in Tier III- you need to check both sides of the street before you cross. Stop just behind a junction and use freelook- typically bound to C, but in my case it is bound to Alt for easier thumbing- to look on both sides. Is it clear? Then cross and go wherever you need to go. Is it not clear? Traverse your turret in the direction of the enemy and push carefully. Especially with the thinly-armoured cruiser tanks (Cromwell, Sherman, Challenger, Avenger, Crusader etc etc) you might actually just be better off finding a way around. You're a cruiser tank. You go fast. Unlike many other tanks you have the leeway to zip around. But what if you're driving a tank that doesn't have that leeway?This leads perfectly into my next point.

Subsection B: How Pley Chorchell?

One of the main things I come across on WT forums and reddit is people saying that the Churchills are dogshit and Britain only has viable sniper tanks, which... well, let me explain.

At first glance, the Churchills do not look like heavy tanks at a BR where the next competitors for the role- the KV-1 ZiS-5- has one hundred millimeters of armour (flat). Unlike the KVs, whose guns can pen a lot of things at 4.3 or at least do acceptable post-pen damage when it does, the 4.0 Churchill only has 89mm of completely flat, unsloped armour with an awkwardly large gap for the MG port, and the 57mm gun only fires solid-shot AP that doesn't spall enough to do any damage beyond the place you fire at. The III plays more like a beefy, slow medium tank than a true heavy thanks to this, but if you angle, you can bounce german 75mm shells all day. The turret's flat armour is however a glaringly large weakspot that you need to protect, so don't think you can stick around for long in a hot zone. The armour will hold for as long as you need to reverse into cover.

The 4.7 one is subject to uptiers where the Jumbo and German Big Cats reign supreme, and the 75mm gun at 4.7 cannot penetrate much. The armour, when flat and unangled, is absolutely horrible and vulnerable to anything with a gun that has a caliber above 75mm, including tigers, panthers and the other german big cats.

Both Churchills need support from tanks with bigger guns to succeed, and typically you should squad with one person in an achilles and one in a churchill, so that you have a decent mix of guns and if you can't pen it, the Achilles will. The Achilles can lag behind and cover a narrow field of view in front of you while you leave light tanks/medium tanks to clear the flanks around you, and if you find something, designate the target and your pet achilles can roll up and take it out. Just like in real life.

With the Churchill, angle your hull. This can at the very least double the amount of protection you have against the enemy, or do funny things like:

Yes, you are reading right- that says 984mm of protection against one of the best guns at its BR. Nothing says \"Fuck you, I'm staying here\" than nearly a metre of armour.
When in an open area in any churchill- keep your enemies between 10:30-11:30, and 12:30-1:30. These angles maximise the amount of armour that you show to the enemy, and the 10:30-11:30 position allows you to shield your machine-gun port from the enemy- a weakspot universal on both churchills, and even the premium German version.
https://preview.redd.it/kzgnqjy6uvm51.png?width=502&format=png&auto=webp&s=8f6e022b5f91f0b21a01fc71d06b8563cea1d2ea

If you're in a Churchill... sidescrape or front-bait, depending on the BR. Generally, it'll be sidescraping (especially with the Churchill III) but if you're in a downtier against 4.7s with the VII, you can risk the front-bait. The only thing at that BR getting through you frontally is a Panzer IV/70 (A), one of the italian 90mms (when you're close and unangled), or a Flak 88 on the German Flakbus. The Churchill III simply does not have the frontal armour to withstand a hit from the 88mm or the 90mm, but with luck can stand up to the long 75 that the Germans have.
1 and 2 indicate the different phases. Dotted lines shows shooting, solid arrows movement.
While you're behind adequate cover, the enemy cannot shoot at you. While angled, the enemy cannot easily pen you. Aim for the turret/gun so that you can make the most out of the relatively small guns for your BR that the Churchills have. The 6-pounder is a little long in the tooth at 4.0 against heavier opposition (KVs and sometimes StuGs at certain angles), and at 4.7 the 75mm is a joke, useful only against the odd KV-1(C), M4 Tipo ICs, the odd Panzer IV and Sturer Emil, and Panzer IV 70 (A)s when they expose that large flat 80mm portion of their comically tall casemate.

To front-bait, angle and advance forward out of cover, covering the weak-spot on the left side of the hull (MG Port) by angling that side towards the enemy (the massive trackguards cover it up, making it harder to spot). Keep your turret angled and only when the enemy has shot their rounds, shoot back, so that they don't penetrate the flat armour on your turret. Front-bait with the enemy to your left in order to hide your MG port.

To sidescrape, angle and reverse out of cover, letting that thick side armour ricochet most of the enemy's shots, and again, keep your turret angled. Shoot back once they've shot their piece. Side-scrape with the enemy to your right in order to hide your MG port.

Move one track forward and the other one back Fuckin' slide around like on a Nordic Track Bait to the left, Scrape to the right, Angle your turret and go into the fight. It's the- It's the- It's the Churchie dance~

Section IV: Lineups above 2.7

Or: "HONEY! WHERE'S MY SEVENTEEN-POUNDER!?"

At 3.3 and 3.7, you don't really have much choice. There is a 3.0 lineup that you can make consisting of the Valentine IX, Archer and the Churchill Gun Carrier (which plays like a tall churchill with good armour for its BR, neutral steering and a decent gun), but people mostly go for the 3.7 lineup, which is Cromwells, a single solitary sherman, and not much else unless you want to uptier the Archer or Valentine. The basic instinct that players have is to add the new shiny tank to their lineup Now, Now, now, and quite frankly for Britain you cannot do that as uptiers are already bad enough, and uptiering above certain BRs crosses armour boundaries that your tank cannot penetrate, which is where you start to have issues, since in the slower tanks (Valentines for the most part) you can't flank because they're so slow and their armour becomes literally useless. Starting at 4.0 you have an excellent lineup with a 17 pounder and a 6-pounder, and the 4.7 lineup is pretty good too, as is 5.3- but the thing is, notice how I say lineup. If you bring 4.0s into 4.7, you're gonna have a bad time. Let alone 3.7s. I've seen terrible lineups, such as a Sherman Firefly paired with both Cromwells or the Valentines (an excuse to die instantly to Big Cats), and things you'd never believe, like the 4.0 Churchill in a 5.3 lineup because their user "forgot" to grind out the 4.7 one, which is the only one with armour that even stands a chance at that BR. So, since this post is already long enough- here are my lineups and what each tank is used for. If you would like me to be more specific about anything, just ask me.

https://preview.redd.it/98qyls4ihwm51.png?width=490&format=png&auto=webp&s=8901d74851551ba64ecdb28be725ab326db6e850
Matilda III: Heavy/Medium tank used for pushing points. No angling due to weak spots on sloped frontal armour. 40mm gun is 50/50 at 2/7 and often causes more problems than it alleviates.
Crusader III: Light tank that has the gun of a medium tank. An excellent point capper, with an amazing gun but bad armour. Stay mobile and move from one position to the other, and if possible stay in urban, cluttered or forested areas where you can use your low profile and good gun to get snapshots on enemy tanks (Urban/cluttered) or snipe enemies from afar with the good gun (forests) while staying hidden from the enemy and out of the open due to your thin armour. Also gets active scouting so that's another reason to stay on the move.
Hurricane Mk IV: 40mm CAS that is good at killing anything it sees, best used with 500m convergence with Vertical Targeting. Can be substituted for the Hurricane Mk IIB/trop, which has 12 7.7mms (best used with 300 or 400m convergence) and 6 RP-3 rockets that can one-shot anything... if it hits. This is hard for new players and hence why I encourage use of the Mark IV, as it uses guns.
Valentine XI: 75mm gun tank that is useful for sniping, capping points and when angled is a decent medium tank. The tank itself has a solid turret which is hard to penetrate, but the hull has some funny parts and weak spots you'll need to deal with. Always keep your enemy between 10-11/1-2 o'clock to maximize your armour. The tank is slow and will not reach cap points first and has weak side armour, so watch your flanks and peek around corners carefully. It can't front-bait too well but it can sidescrape decently if you get past the 2.8km/h reverse gear. This tank is a glass cannon due to its weird armour (when not angled) and the fact that it only has three crew. If the enemy gets a solid hit on the turret, you're out, so be careful!
Valentine I: same as the Val XI, but with a worse turret and gun but better side armour.
Crusader II: Crusader III but with worse gun and better turret and a front MG secondary turret that tends to catch APHE rounds and shield your main fighting compartment. If possible, angle it towards the enemy- it's worth losing a crewmember to protect the rest of the people in your tank.
AEC AA: Good AAA but also decent at killing tanks from the side if you decide to run around being annoying.

https://preview.redd.it/sx0bqwjvjwm51.png?width=476&format=png&auto=webp&s=a053378b5646b0e9a0aa9734fb1a64dc81b802ce
Wellington: Can be switched out for another tank (typically the Valentine XI). Carries the 4000lbs bomb which can clear a cap point assuming you get to the target.
Archer: Excellent sniping tank with an easy escape: you just drive forwards to go backwards. The gun is amazing. However, the tank needs a bit of range and a bit of cover to perform well as the tank's armour is absolutely pitiful, even with the volumetric armour update (which doesn't affect it that much).
Valentine IX: The same as the XI but with a better gun and no MG. It also has a much better turret.

https://preview.redd.it/syt2x620jwm51.png?width=490&format=png&auto=webp&s=01e86bc82c528f3bf4537135dad096f88522798e
Cromwell I/V: Essentially the same tank but the V has a worse gun. These tanks should be used like light tanks/oversized crusaders since their armour is absolutely pitiful. There's a reason why these 1944 tanks fight mostly '41-'43 tanks. Stay mobile, stay behind cover, make sure you look both ways before crossing the street, stay out of the open as much as possible. These tanks cannot reverse and if you need to go backwards, either neutral-steer around and do it, or go forwards towards another bit of cover instead. For their BRs, the gun is decent but it's still completely solid shot.
Sherman II: Dogshit. Sucks balls and I hate it. Has APHE but that's about it- the armour is a slightly better M4A1 hull with a slightly smaller 20mm weakspot on the hull roof. It still gets penned by wirbelwinds frontally and fortunately it doesn't have the 38.1mm sides that aren't worth shit. The .50 caliber machine gun is useful against low-flying aircraft and lightly-armoured targets like the annoying R3s and Pumas you come across at this BR, but against those types of hull-breakable ground targets there's no reason you shouldn't just shoot at them with the main gun.
Crusader AA MK II: A beefier AEC AA on the Crusader III Chassis.
Hellcat Mk II: A premium that carries 2*1000lbs bombs and 6 HVARs (which pen less but are easier to aim than RP-3s) as well as fifty-cals. Good performance against air targets and ground targets. Can be switched out for the Beaufighter Mk 21, which carries 8 RP-3s, 4 .50 cals and 4 Hispano Mk IIs, which is heavy but packs a formidable punch.

https://preview.redd.it/8trk5odrkwm51.png?width=468&format=png&auto=webp&s=cc13d871af2dc18317fcbf8e80a970debd04421d
Churchill III: Decent armour for its BR, and a good gun, but should not be used without support from lighter tanks or from vehicles with bigger guns. Explained in depth above in Section III, subsection B.
Achilles: Good sniper tank with a low profile. Go hull-down behind defilades and typically in areas with lots of bushes to hide yourself, and let rip at an enemy. There is nothing at 4.0 that your gun will not penetrate and frankly it's just a meme. The armour is thin and the ammo is all in the side of the hull, and the turret does not rotate very fast, as well as being open top- watch out for enemy air attack, don't stay in one place too long, and play defensively. Don't stick your nose into areas you shouldn't when you could be firing at the enemy from far away with your excellent gun ballistics. Support your team from the rear by throwing 17 pounders at pesky sniping tanks that're bothering them, and use your decent maneuverability to get into good spots that overlook cap points or strategic choke points, or wherever your teammates happen to be pushing. Keep an eye on your flanks, though! You're a favorite target for Pumas, R3s and other mobile tanks, and if people recognize you, they'll make you a priority target due to your big gun.
Hellcat Mk II: Can be switched out for the Firefly Mk V when necessary at this BR, which carries 16 RP-3s- which is a significant load. However, as stated before- RP-3s are harder to aim than bombs or guns.
Tempest Mk V (Vickers P): A Hurricane IV for 4.0-5.7. At this BR its performance (the FM is the same as the 5.7 Tempest V) is ridiculous.

https://preview.redd.it/uq5olkwelwm51.png?width=476&format=png&auto=webp&s=9fedf9b3aa49df3e3a0aedf1c18c88fd5c53bed3
I kept the Achilles here because it has the same gun and there was no other 4.7 tank I could shove in.
Sherman Firefly/Sherman IC "Trzyniec": Excellent sniper tank with decent armour (when it has the additional armour package). The IC has extra armour on the side of the hull and most importantly in front of the gunner on the turret.
Avenger: A cromwell with a 17 pounder. Use it as such. It can be played like a more mobile M10 with turret traverse and roof armour if need be, but just be aware that if you ahve to push poitns or run around a city flanking and spanking, it can do so. Absolutely ridiculous on urban maps where you can zip around alleyways and appear in the enemy's rear or flank when they least expect it, but since it is a Cromwell (or at least the Chassis is a variant thereof), don't pretend to be a heavy tank.
Churchill VII: Heavier Churchill III. The gun is pitiful, and the armour amazing- be at the head of a push but don't go without support from your allies. Again, described in Section III, Subsection B.
Crusader AA Mk I: Has a Bofors and can now penetrate 72mm of armour if it has to, but it's still better as an AA aircraft. Fires slower than the Mk II but rewards more per hit- it's down to playstyle as to which Crusader AA you bring in.
Typhoon Mk Ib/Mk Ib/Late : Good CAS aircraft with RP-3s and Hispanos. Can be switched for the Brigand B1 or the Hellcat F II or the Firefly Mk V if you deem it necessary.

https://preview.redd.it/qtfpk4ckmwm51.png?width=466&format=png&auto=webp&s=eeee8337d4731d8fb6c9ba0c278605e3f60996eb
QF 3.7-inch Ram: An excellent ground gift vehicle from Operation Frost 2019-2020. The vehicle has an excellent gun and amazing armour penetration with the ability to slice through neraly 8 inches of armour with little to no effort, but unlike sabot it has trouble going through the front hull of panthers.
Comet I: First British tank you'll encounter with Sabot and thus the first one that can do the Two-Step Good-bye to Panthers- aim at the bevel on the side of the hull where the two holes in the turret are, kill the driver, gunner and commander in one strike, reload in 6 seconds and finish off on the other side of the hull. Still a cromwell hull but with a very good gun mantlet, especially after volumetric armour update- Go hull-down if possible so your hull isn't exposed, and stay at range. Cap points where necessary but don't overextend, and peek well around corners so that you don't get a nasty surprise. Play this like a cromwell with an even better gun.
Brigand B1: Heavy CAS option with a massive payload of 2*1000lbs bombs, or 2*500lbs bombs with 16 RP-3s. Excellent at demolishing enemy tanks. It also has dive brakes, which helps, and four hispano Mk Vs for taking on Me-410s. It's still not a fighter, though, and it will have trouble dealing with more maneuverable enemies.
Sea Fury FB 11: Lighter CAS option that carries 2*500lbs bombs or 12 RP-3s or 4 Triplex RP-3s. I haven't gotten the Triplexes yet, but with the RP-3s, generally you don't need to load them, as the 12 RP-3s still work at this BR from top-down shots that are much easier to aim than the side-on shots that the other aircraft can do. This plane also swats 190s and yaks out of the skies with ease with its maneuverability, speed, and fast-firing hispano Mk Vs.
Avenger: can be switched out for the Challenger at this BR, which is the same thing but with sabot, and a much higher profile. The Challenger is a good sniping tank but suicidal used otherwise. If you don't mind the uptier you can also use the Centurion Mk I- a tank that personally, I have never used (I went straight to the Mark III and the FV 4202 at 6.7, which are excellent tanks with good armour that make the low-tier suffering all worth it in the end). Apparently after Volumetric Armour the tank's weak spots have decreased, but the turret is still pretty flat and only 127mm, so... that sucks.




Concluding thoughts:


British Tier II and III are hard. DOn't get me wrong here- the grind is difficult, and often a long, arduous slog. But I hope that I can help you get the most out of your tanks, and at least give you some enjoyment, by teaching you some of the things which help you not get killed immediately after leaving the spawn. Solid shot is a pain when everyone else has APHE, but... hell. You've got those monstrous penetration values at all BRs, so...

The key to British Tank play is knowing what you're doing and playing with your head screwed on. DOn't play taking excessive risks- know when to push and when not to, be careful and keep your head on a swivel. Learn to aim at key components and key areas on a tank for maximal effect, because once you do...

You'll be here with the best of us.

Godspeed, young ones. I'll see you at the Centurions in the Green Fields Beyond.
submitted by Aussie_Mantis to Warthunder

hell or glory: the endless mile 48 hour race

Race Information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A don't quit early, do the full 48 Yes
B 100 miles Yes
C 110 miles Yes
D 116.3 miles (top 10 leaderboard) No
E podium No

Splits

Hour Mileage
1 6.5 miles
2 6.2 miles
3 5.9 miles
4 5.4 miles
5 4.9 miles
6 4.5 miles
7 4.1 miles
8 3.5 miles
9 3.7 miles
10 3.5 miles
11 3.5 miles
12 3.1 miles
13 2.1 miles
14 1.1 miles
15 3.1 miles
16 3.5 miles
17 4.3 miles
18 0 miles
19 2.8 miles
20 1.4 miles
21 2.8 miles
22 2.8 miles
23 3.2 miles
24 3 miles
25 3.2 miles
26 2 miles
27 2.8 miles
28 1.4 miles
29 2.4 miles
30 2.4 miles
31 1.6 miles
32 2.6 miles
33 2.4 miles
34 0 miles
35 0 miles
36 0 miles
37 0 miles
38 0 miles
39 0 miles
40 0 miles
41 0 miles
42 0 miles
43 0 miles
44 0 miles
45 0 miles
46 1.4 miles
47 3.8 miles
48 5.7 miles

Training

Ok, so, first of all: I did not train for this. I’ve been running all summer, but that’s not the same as training for a multiday ultra. If you’re interested in the raw numbers, check out my strava training log and see for yourself (https://www.strava.com/athletes/15875698/training/log). I’ll also provide a short summary of just how much I fucked myself going into this. In my defense, I didn’t plan to do this race, and only signed up about 3-4 weeks out from race day because I was bored. Please do not repeat my mistakes.
Okay, let’s rewind to, say, June. I’m in Pennsylvania living at my parent’s house for a month while I try to put my life back together. I’m doing the GVRAT (Laz’s virtual race, ~635 miles in 3 months). I’m just trying to maintain a base at around 40-50 mpw. June passed fairly uneventfully running-wise, with weekly mileage of 55 mi, 41 mi, 55 mi, 55 mi and a few walks/hikes sprinkled in. I was doing 1 workout per week (just kinda whatever I felt like that morning, fartleks or tempos usually). Long runs were around 13-14 miles with some quality sections here and there.
In early July, I drove back to Colorado, moved out of my old apartment that I had shared with my ex, and moved into a new place on my own. My running stayed about the same as before, but my daily walking skyrocketed. My monthly running mileage was 51 mi, 34 mi (moving week), 55 mi, 53 mi, 55 mi. When you add in walks (which I think count when you’re doing a race that will be a LOT of walking), my weekly mileage in July went 51 mi, 34 mi, 80 mi, 80 mi, 81 mi. As you can see, I was adding about an extra ~25 mi per week from walking every day after work. I had a lot more free time and while I kinda wanted to use that time to do doubles every day and bump my mileage up a lot, I knew that it maybe wasn’t the smartest option, so I settled for walking. My long runs were still around 13-15 mi (and no back-to-back long runs, let me be clear. The run the day after my long run was around 6 miles). I was still doing a weekly workout of whatever felt fun that day.
August was both a “big” month (when you count walking) and a shit month (if you look at just running). Running mileage was 47 mi, 44 mi, 40 mi, 31 mi. With walks, it was 72 mi, 74 mi, 58 mi, 68 mi. Long runs dropped a bit, to about 10-12 miles, still with zero back-to-backs. I was beginning to feel the effects of covid-seclusion-brain as well as dealing with the emotional fallout of the past few months. On the plus side, I started going to a weekly track workout with my boss and some coworkers, which helped make me feel human at least once a week.
September continued in the same vein as August, but with less walking. So, not much running AND not much walking. Truly, great training for a multiday ultra in October. But again, I wasn’t planning on running any races for the rest of 2020 so I wasn’t too bothered. Weekly mileage for September went 35 mi, 47 mi, 47 mi, 56 mi. With walks added in, it was 49 mi, 51 mi, 61 mi, 62 mi. Long runs were around 13-14 mi, and for two memorable weeks it was only 8-9 mi. Sometime in the last week of September I decided to say “fuck it” and sign up for a 48 hour race. I knew I wasn’t prepared AT ALL, but I really missed the pain cave of an ultra. This particular race also has a lot of personal meaning to me. My first ultra was a 12 hour at this race, back in 2017. For years now I’ve talked about wanting to go back and try the 24 hour or the 48 hour, and for the first time in years, I could actually do whatever race I wanted to do.
October (or at least October 1-15th) was my taper. If you can call it a taper when you’ve basically been tapering for an entire month beforehand. Weekly mileage went from 56 mi to 46 mi to 37 mi. The taper was honestly fun as hell. I felt so fit, but in more of a 5k-half marathon way. I knew I didn’t have the endurance for this dumb race, but I felt fitter than I’ve ever felt before in my life, and I was hoping that it would help at least a tiny bit.

Pre-race

So I packed and re-packed for this race approximately 26 times. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to change clothes, or socks, or shoes, or whatever. So I brought everything I could think of. I even brought a beanie and gloves, on the off chance that it got chilly for a bit overnight (note: this is what the experts call foreshadowing).
I was crashing with a friend before and after the race, which made things easier (and cheaper). Now, this next part may be gross for any men reading but I am a firm believer that A. get over it, it’s normal and B. it is important to know if you want to get the full picture of my race. So, because I am an incredibly lucky person, I managed to start my period on race morning. While this is good hormonally (women tend to get a bit of a performance boost from the drop in hormone levels), it added a nice extra layer of complexity to my next 48 hours. Yay! pre-race 'fit in my sweet artc singlet
Anyway, after that lovely realization, I drove over to the race start and started prepping my stuff. A friend of mine was coming down from Georgia that day to hang out and camp and then run the 24 hour the next day. I knew I could use his tent and setup once he got there, so I just kinda dumped my stuff on the ground and vaguely organized it so that I could see everything easily. Visual proof of the poorly organized aid pile I put on my windbreaker (it was drizzling and mid-50 degrees F at the start) and waited around until 8:55 am. With 5 minutes to go before race start, I meandered over to the start line to hear the race instructions and size up my competition (LOL). I knew from stalking ultrasignup that there were a few women with a lot of multiday/48 hour experience, including one woman twice my age who had just done ~140+ miles at a 48 hour in February. I was absolutely expecting her to kick my ass. I’m fairly used to getting my butt handed to me by people twice my age or older in ultras. It gives me warm fuzzies, and a hope that when I’m their age I can be that person. I also saw Ed Ettinghausen (a legend in multiday racing… you may know him as the guy who always dresses up like a jester) and Ray Krolewicz (another legend in ultrarunning, at least in my opinion). Ray had been at this race back in 2017 when I ran it for the first time. I wasn’t sure if he remembered chatting with me briefly while I was running the 12 hour. But I remembered. He called me out in the first hour, asking why I was running so fast when I was doing the 12 hour and telling me to slow down before I destroyed my legs. And after the race, he told me I needed to keep doing ultras because I had some talent (which obviously stuck with me, if I remember it three years later). I crossed my fingers that we’d get some “walk and talk” time later in the race, because I distinctly remembered him being hilarious and great at getting me out of a shitty mood and I figured I’d definitely need that at some point.

Race

How does one distill 48 hours into text? Let’s find out. I left myself voice memo’s at various points of the race, because I knew it would all begin to blend together in my head afterwards. Some of them are funny and some of them are a bit sad. But that’s life, I guess. The concept of running 100 miles in 24 hours has sometimes been referred to as “life in a day”. I’d say 48 hours follows that idea, but more like two lives in two days. There are peaks and valleys. You’ll feel like you may never be happy again, or you’re done running for the rest of the race. But it never always gets worse, and sometimes it even gets better and suddenly you’re running sub-10 minute pace at hour 46 and you don’t really know what’s happening but you’re definitely not going to question it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Hours 1-6: (9 am - 3 pm)
So, at 9 am sharp, the gun goes off and we all start to shuffle across the line. No one is going very fast, which makes a lot of sense when you remember that we have to keep going for two days straight. One girl gaps everyone by quite a bit by about half a mile in, and my dumb competitive side starts to kick in. I had conveniently forgotten that there were relay teams in the race, and it never even crossed my mind that she might be a relay runner who only had to run for a few hours. This was mistake #1 (of many!). While trying to make sure I kept this girl in sight, I completely abandoned my tentative plan to run no faster than 10 min/mile in the first few hours, and blazed through the first ~4ish hours at sub-10 pace, including pauses at the aid stations and my personal aid pile. At this point, I was already starting to feel my lack of long runs in training. Huge shocker, I know. It was a little terrifying to think that I still had 44 hours to go. So I just tried to stop thinking about it, and focus on the hour I was currently in. At one point, I texted a friend to ask what % of critical power I should aim for during a 48 hour race, partially as a joke. He told me no matter what, don’t go over 80%. Oops. I had definitely been routinely going over 80%, and only barely averaging below it for lap power. I was beginning to slightly regret not actually making any sort of pacing plan before the race started.
Hours 5 & 6 were where I really started making more of an effort to walk. The course has 4 “hills” (which have maybe a combined elevation gain of ~25 ft), and I used them as my walk cues. Some people do a very structured walk/run (25 minute run/5 minute walk, 4 minute run/1 minute walk, etc), but I prefer to just do everything by feel. Doing it based on course landmarks seemed easier to keep track of, instead of having to constantly look at my watch and do math, or having to program intervals into the watch ahead of time. I averaged about 13 min/mile for these hours, and about 11 min/mile for the first six hours altogether.
Hours 6-12: (3 pm - 9 pm)
This 6 hour block progressed much like hours 5 & 6. At around the 9 hour mark, I began recording periodic voice memos to myself as a way to try to remember how I felt at different points of the race. I knew it would all start to blend together in my mind, so I wanted to have a concrete record of how I felt, especially the bad sections. I have a tendency to forget all the shitty parts of the race afterwards, which I think is a survival mechanism in my dumb brain that lets me keep doing these races. In my first voice memo, recorded at about 9.5 hours in, I talked about how I was doing a lot of walking because my legs felt dead and my adductor longus was screaming bloody murder at me. A woman who had been consistently about one lap behind me the entire race was putting forth a concentrated effort to catch up and pass me. She was doing a lot more running than I was at that point, and basically had her own personal pacer (a guy who was also doing the 48 hour who spent the entire race running right ahead of her or beside her and giving her encouragement). In the voice memo, I make it very clear that I do not care at all if she catches me or passes me, because there are 38 hours left in the race at this point and there’s still so much that can happen or go wrong for either of us. The real race probably hasn’t even started yet! At around 8:30 pm, I chatted on the phone with my mom and dad briefly, catching them up on how I was feeling and how the race was going. It was beginning to get a little chilly now that the sun was down. These six hours passed at a 17 min/mile pace, which tells you that I wasn’t kidding when I said I was doing a lot of walking at this point.
Hours 12-18: (9 pm - 3 am)
This is about when things begin to get a little blurry. I remember starting to get cold and putting on all the layers I had (a sweatshirt, sweatpants, beanie, gloves, and buff). At around 9 pm, I recorded another voice memo, where I said that I had been exclusively walking for awhile and had taken a quick nap earlier. I remember this nap, because it was another huge mistake. I had planned to just nap on the ground, with an inflatable pillow and small microfiber towel I had brought with me. This was dumb. Turns out, lying on the cold dirt while feeling very cold will just make you feel even more cold. After lying on the ground, shaking uncontrollably from the cold and getting zero sleep, I eventually got up and kept walking. Hour 12.5 face I tried to warm myself up with a cup of hot chicken soup but that only helped while I was drinking it. Once my tiny cup ran out, I started getting cold again.
At 16.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I explained that in the hours between 9 pm and 1 am, I had gone through a huge rough patch of being very cold and having a hard time moving forward at any sort of respectable walking pace. I finally had a burst of inspiration and went to my rental car, turned it on, blasted the heat for 15 minutes to warm up, and started moving again, feeling much better than before. After I warmed up, I ran into Ray K. If you’ve done any fixed time race, especially on the east coast, and you dont know who Ray is, you might live under a rock. As he loved telling me, he’s been doing ultras “since before you were born”. According to ultrasignup, his ultrarunning history predates my birth by about 25 years. I walked with him for probably about an hour or two, and it honestly saved my entire night. For one, his walking speed is a lot faster than mine, so he helped get my butt moving faster than I would have if I was on my own. More importantly, he is one of the chattiest people I’ve ever met, and he kept me entertained the entire time by telling me stories about Yiannis Kouros and Bruce Fordyce, about how he kind of snuck into Western States one time, and about his adventures doing Vol State and Heart of the South in the same summer.
After getting to around the 16 hou100k mark and parting ways with Ray for a bit, I decided to try to jog at least 30 seconds or so each lap to try to break up the monotony. After that first spurt of jogging, I realized that my legs felt great running. Suddenly, I was spending most of the lap running. I even started throwing in some surges of faster running to loosen my legs up. I shed a lot of my warm layers because the extra exertion was making me start to sweat. I made it about an hour or so at about 12 min/mile pace (including my stops at the aid station… I was beginning to get the nickname of “Hot Chocolate Girl” because I kept getting cups of hot chocolate to keep myself warm). After this sudden burst of energy dropped off, I decided to take another ~30 minute nap in my warm car. These six hours passed at an average pace of 25 min/mile, which includes my periodic ~30 minute naps where I was blissfully moving at a 0 mph pace.
Hours 18-24: (3 am - 9 am) After getting up from my latest nap, things began to get a little pathetic. There’s a handful of voice memos recorded that are just muffled crying noises intermixed with exclamations of “I’m just so cold” and “I feel like I’ll never be warm again”. I honestly don’t remember many details from about 3 am until 6ish. It all blends together into an overwhelming feeling of cold and misery. At around 6 am, I recorded yet another crying voice memo about how the sun was finally coming up and how happy it makes me (which sounds slightly odd, as I’m audibly crying while saying that).
Luckily for my morale, once the sun started to rise, two things happened: I remembered that hot food exists, and my friends and family started to wake up. I started grabbing bacon every few laps, and had a religious experience with the best fried egg I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (and which I ate with my hands, to try to avoid carrying a paper plate and fork with me for an entire lap). The hot food (and calories!) helped bring me back from the deep pit I was in. Turns out, trying to subsist on hot chocolate and the occasional handful of skittles isn’t enough calories and can lead to grumpiness.
At around 7:30, my lovely friend Katie called me and we talked on the phone for an hour while she did her morning run and caught me up on things I was missing in the group chat and I gave her all the ridiculous details of my disaster of a dating life. It was an amazing pick-me-up and helped get my morning off to a good start. Day two, here we come!
At the end of the first 24 hours, I had somewhere between 82 and 84 miles, depending on how much you trust my GPS (I don’t have access to the detailed lap splits yet, so the actual mileage is still unknown). I didn’t realize it at the time, because my watch had reset & saved my first activity somewhere around hour 17 while I was in my car warming up and charging my watch. Thanks garmin! I was convinced I was around ~80 miles, which was a disappointment. I had reached 82 miles in my last 24 hour (which took place during a mild blizzard and I had been similarly undertrained for), and I had kinda been hoping to at least match that mileage during this race, as stupid and ill-advised as that sounds. These 6 hours passed at an average pace of 23 min/mile, which is honestly surprising because I could have sworn I was moving as slowly or slower than the 6 hours preceding.
Hours 24-30: (9 am - 3 pm, 2nd day)
At 9 am, the 24 hour, 12 hour, and 6 hour races started. At first, I thought maybe the addition of more runners beyond the ~40 or so 48 hour runners would be energizing. Instead, it just kind of annoyed me. Getting passed by so many people and almost getting shoved off the path by the wave of runners made me even grumpier. I was also feeling quite jealous that other people could physically run while I was stuck in a painful shuffle. On the plus side, a few friends had started their races, so I got to see some new friendly faces out there while they were lapping me.
Beyond the addition of the new runners, these hours are mostly a blur of pain and more misery, just less cold than the nighttime hours. At around 26.5 hours, I recorded another voice memo to myself. I was stuck moving at a slow shuffling walk because my legs hurt so bad I couldn’t muster up any gumption to try to move faster. I also made a plea to my future self to PLEASE pack warm clothes next time, no matter what the weather forecast said. It’s easy to get stuck in the running mindset of “oh well 50 degrees is warm, that’s shorts and tshirt weather”. Which is true when you’re running, but less so when you’re walking slowly in the dark. I was able to talk to my sister at around noon, and my parents at around 1:30. Those conversations weren’t quite as helpful as my earlier chat with Katie. I’ve noticed that sometimes when I talk to my family or extremely close friends during a race, it can actually fuck up my headspace even more because I feel like I can dump all my shitty feelings into our conversation and cry and complain so much that it just ends up making me even grumpier. I was yet again moving at a blistering 26 min/mile pace thanks to my dead legs and a few quick car naps here and there. I had noticed that taking a quick 15-30 minute nap had the tendency to cut some of my grumpiness and bad mood, at least temporarily.
Hours 30-36: (3 pm - 9 pm, 2nd day)
At around hour 30, I recorded my last voice memo, again complaining about not being able to move well and being reduced to a painful shuffle. I desperately wanted to be able to move faster because I had promised myself that once I hit 100 miles I could take a longer break. I had figured out that at my current pace, I’d reach 100 miles at around sunset and I really wanted to not have to be out in the cold again if I could help it. I knew it would go poorly for me. I was having some big issues with thermoregulation already, and the falling temperatures would likely make it worse. I have a distinct memory of walking along the path, shivering and cold with goosebumps on my arms, while in full direct sunlight and 70 degree temperatures. If I was cold in those conditions, nighttime was going to be hell.
Mile 95 face, very thrilled to be alive At around mile 95, my friend Kelly started walking with me to keep me company. She had originally signed up for the 6 hour race, but switched up to the 12 hour mid-race. I felt bad that she was walking with me (because I was moving so slowly) while she was technically racing and could probably be moving a lot faster if she was on her own. Walking with her for the 5 miles to reach 100 was so so helpful. At first I was kind of resistant, because I tend to like to be on my own when I’m feeling shitty, but about halfway through I realized just how nice and distracting it was to have someone to talk to. I think I finally get why people like having a pacer during races. I know, I’m a genius. After I finally hit 100 miles (in my donut compression socks, Hoka slides, and Javelina sweatshirt… really looking like an athlete), Ray told me I had to do at least one more mile before taking my long break. He told me that just in case I never got out on the course again, I’d at least be ahead of all the people who quit after reaching 100 miles.
Mile 100 (with Ray)!
Right after getting my buckle
With Kelly
So, Kelly and I did one more painful lap and then parted ways. I headed to my car to finally change my clothes a bit (tracksmith shorts to BOA poop emoji shorts) and just chill for a moment. I got in the car at about 7:30 pm and stayed there for the rest of this 6 hour block.
Hours 36-42: (9 pm - 3 am, 2nd day)
I spent pretty much the entire 6 hours in my car, huddled up and hiding from the cold. I was semi-traumatized from the night before, when I felt like I would never be warm again. I was just so terrified about it hitting me even harder the second night, after feeling cold and getting goosebumps while walking in direct sunlight in 70 degree F weather. I settled into a routine of starting the car, blasting the heat for 5 minutes to get the entire car nice and warm, stretching out on the reclined front drivers seat, trying to sleep for 45 minutes, waking up, and restarting the cycle again. It was miserable. I bargained with myself, berated myself for being such a wimp, and alternated back and forth between deciding to quit with 101 miles or deciding to get back out on the course once the sun came up and gutting out a few more hours.
Hours 42-48: (3 am - 9 am, 2nd day)
At around 6:30 am, with the sun peeking over the trees, I told myself to buck the fuck up and opened my car door. I started shuffling around the course again after grabbing some more bacon and eggs and reassuring the aid station cook that I was indeed still in the race after he hadn’t seen me all night long. I had 2.5 hours to go, and I started trying to do mental math to figure out how many more miles I could get. I figured I was moving at just over 2 mph, so 110 miles was likely out of reach. I had pretty much entirely given up on running anymore, to the point that I was walking around sockless in my Hoka recovery slides. Pro tip: don't run in slides During that first hour, I noticed my walking speed was getting faster and my legs were starting to feel… not normal, but way better than they had yesterday afternoon. I began to throw in little 30 second bursts of slow jogging. Those bursts started getting longer and longer, and suddenly I was almost fully running around the course in my slides. After a lap or two like that, I made a brief pit stop to change back into running shoes and set off again. Somehow grinning like a psychopath again
I jogged a lap with the aid station cook after he chased me down while drinking a beer, and we traded stories for a bit until we got back to the start finish area. As I noticed the clock turning over to the final hour, I resolved to push myself and give whatever I had left. During my first ultra, one of the volunteers told me that it’s important to always save something for the last hour. While that may have been more practical for a shorter fixed time race, I took it to heart and was determined to use whatever I had saved. I ran almost every single step of that last hour, averaging ~10:30 min/mile. I didn’t know what was happening. My legs felt so great. I was the only 48 hour runner who was actually running, and I was passing people left and right. Once we were down to about 15 minutes left, I grabbed my blue flag that I’d use to mark my last partial lap. I switched my watch face to just show the current time, because I knew I wanted to really empty the tank in the last few minutes. With about 5 minutes to go, I started to really push. My last mile ended up being at 8:40 pace, and with about a minute to go I started sprinting and was flying by the 48 hour shufflers at 6:00 min/mile pace. As I was dying in these last seconds, the airhorn blew and I skidded to a stop and stuck my flag in the dirt. I knew I had managed to hit at least 110 miles, and maybe 111 depending on the distance of that last partial lap.

Post-race

After the race officially finished and I checked my preliminary mileage (somehow they had me at 111 laps!), I chatted with Ray again while the RD’s congratulated the podium (I just missed out, placing 4th F and 9th overall). I told him how I was already planning my next 48 hour, and that I had a list of things to change for next time. He told me that I had a gift and a lot of potential to do well in the sport based on how he saw me running during the first night and at the end, and how I came back out to keep going after my long break on the second night. I honest to god almost started crying while I was standing there talking to him. He didn’t remember, but he said something extremely similar to me the last time we were at a race together. To have someone who I respect so much and who has such a long history and a lot of experience in the sport, tell me that I have potential and can do well… it meant so much. It’s easy to brush that stuff off when it comes from my friends or family, especially when they don’t really know anything about ultrarunning, but hearing it come from someone like Ray is different.
After recovering from that moment, I shuffled back to my car and drove an hour to my friends apartment, where I proceeded to crash on the couch for several hours, wake up briefly to eat an entire pizza and watch The Addams Family (because I learned he’d NEVER SEEN IT), eat a giant bowl of pasta, and then fall asleep for the night. I napped on and off all morning on Monday before heading home. While I had definitely been shuffling around like a grandma with a fresh hip replacement on Sunday, by Monday morning I felt surprisingly good. I didn’t have any blisters, my toenails all seemed to be in decent shape, and while my legs felt a little sore, they didn’t feel anywhere near as dead as I was expecting. I even did a test jog to and from my car while getting my bag to pack up and it felt….. kinda good? Upon arriving home, I was able to walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment with zero issues. I went back to work on Tuesday like normal. I also started running again on Tuesday, just a short 20 minute shakeout on a flat loop near my apartment. I’ve had a few people tell me i’m being an idiot for running again so soon, and plenty of other people who are just shocked that I’d even want to run this soon. All I know is that my legs feel amazing, I don’t feel very fatigued, and my body just wants to run. So I want to listen to it. I don’t have any blisters, my gait is completely normal, and I don’t have any lasting muscle fatigue (that I can tell). I’m restricting myself to nothing longer than an hour for this first week back at least. I might throw in some hill strides and a short tempo next week if I’m still feeling great.
My running “superpower” has always been twofold: not getting injured (which Ray tells me isn’t JUST because I’m young, thank you) and recovering fast. I eat a lot of food and sleep a lot, especially after a race. My BMI is nowhere near the “underweight” range (and yes, I know it’s a flawed measurement) and I’ve never lost my period or had a bone stress injury. I may not be the fastest, but I like to think I can outlast my competition, both in training (by not having to take time off for injury) and in a race setting. I’ve historically had no issues doing the occasional Super Week where I double my weekly mileage (or more). After my first ultra, I remember feeling pretty creaky and hobbling out some 10-12 minute miles in the following days (I was run streaking at the time). With each subsequent “big effort”, I’ve found my recovery is faster and I feel normal again a lot quicker. I know there is likely still some residual stuff my body is dealing with even though I feel great, so I’m trying really hard to not do too much too soon. It’s hard!!
As far as the future goes, I’m signed up for two 2021 races so far: a 24 hour in April (that was a deferral roll-over from 2020), and Western States in June (which was also a 2020 roll-over). I’m also going to be rolling over my 2020 Quad Rock 50 miler registration, which will be in May. Right now, my tentative plan is to do some 10k-focused training until the end of January, at which point I’ll start lengthening my long runs again in prep for Western training. I still haven’t decided if I want to try hiring a coach again. Western is really important to me, and I want to make sure I give it the best I possibly can, but I just don’t know if I’m really a “coachable athlete”. As much as I want to see if I can get to 100 miles in the 24 hour, I realize it probably wouldn’t be the smartest choice if I’m going to really try to nail Western States two months later. So I’ll probably use that as a tuneup (maybe 50k-50mi) along with Quad Rock. I’d really like to get a faster Boston qualifier under my belt (I think I could go at least sub-3:25,and Ray thinks I could probably run about 3:20 if I actually did my long runs), but I don’t think I’ll have time for a full training cycle + race next year with Western in the middle.
With regards to future multiday races… I already know I want to give the 48 hour another shot to see if I can fix my mistakes and start getting into some real mileage. With how great my legs felt at the end and in the middle of the night randomly, I think I’d definitely like to try some even longer multiday races and stage races. I know everyone says to save the multiday stuff until you’re “older”, but I feel so drawn to it in the same way I feel drawn to races like Hardrock and Western States. I just want to see what I can do at something very stupid and hard, and I especially want to see what I can do now that I know a bit more of what to expect. There’s no glory in multiday races, which honestly is part of the appeal. Almost no one knows what a “good” result is for a 48 hr, a 72 hr, a 144 hr race. No one cares. It’s wonderful knowing that no one cares or knows if you did well or can measure you in any way. I also love the sense of camaraderie in these races, especially the small looped courses. You’re able to interact with everyone if you want to, while in a normal race setting you might not be able to (because they’re either way ahead or way behind you). I’ve gotten shit before for not being a “real” ultrarunner because I don’t only run trail races, and been told that these short loop timed races aren’t the same or they’re somehow “lesser”, which I think is bullshit. I personally believe this type of race could absolutely break a good trail ultrarunner, and they shouldn’t be underestimated or dismissed just because they’re “road races” or because they don’t traverse grand mountain ranges. I love mountain running, but I also love being able to absolutely shut out the outside stimuli that can distract you from the pain and just be present in the moment without having to worry about tripping on a root or making a wrong turn or getting lost or being eaten by a bear.
Made with a new race report generator created by herumph.
submitted by cPharoah to artc

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