Race to the Stones 2019 – it’s the final countdown

Well it’s about a month out from RTTS 2019 and time to stop worrying about have I done enough and start worrying about everything else 😱😱😱😱

As the sound of the song from Europe “The Final Countdown” rings around my head I find myself thinking about the final phase and specifically I find myself thinking about the mental aspect of running 100Km in a day. Thats a big deal. Physically its a big deal, but mentally it’s an unknown quantity. What do I have to compare to the mental challenge of throwing myself around the Ridgeway National Trail for 100Km without a break for a good nights rest. How can I baseline that to anything, I’m not prepared for this.

I’m not prepared for this.

The thought of a first Ultra is somewhat daunting. I’m always keen to run a race and this is no different. I always want to do the best time I can in a race and this too is no different. Of course I’m not blind to the fact that this is 100Km and hilly and off road so I know I won’t run it all, but I still hope to achieve the best outcome realistic.

So what’s left to do?

The miles are mostly done. There’s little more I can do now that won’t just make me exhausted for the race itself. I’ve one serious long run (50km) planned a couple of weeks out from the race and otherwise it’s just some routine easy and mixed effort runs in the weeks and 10-20 miles long runs at the weekends. Two week taper? Should be enough? We will see!!

Year to date I have pushed out 1246 Km and expect another 200+ Km before the race itself.

The Ridgeway National Trail

The kit is mostly sorted. I’ve listed my kit below:

  • Kalenji 10L backpack
  • Tailwind in my water bladder and spare to renew
  • change of clothes including hat and socks
  • first aid kit with blister kit
  • foil blanket
  • head torch and spare batteries
  • mobile phone charger and cable
  • running watch (Garmin Fenix 5)
  • Route on phone and loaded to watch
  • Energy gels (I like SIS so take my own)
  • Cliff Blocs (ditto)
  • Chia Charge Flapjacks – simply nothing compares to them for running fuel
  • Sun cream for before the start P20
  • Vaseline to avoid the sore parts 😉
  • Shorts
  • Running T-Shirt/Vest
  • Compression socks
  • Shoes – Not sure yet but Hoka Clifton 5 or Hoka Challenger 5 are the two candidates

Meet up with support/family on route planned for one maybe two points. We live near the Ridgeway so know good points to meet.

Transport: Well I have an amazing wife. Enough said!

The Head: Well to be honest this is where it gets a little flaky.

The real challenge

The real challenge of trying to do the best run I can at RTTS will be in my head. It’ll be the longest time I will have been out running for. It will be the longest distance I will have ever run. It will be the biggest challenge I have faced since I bought a pair of running shoes in a New Balance outlet store in Swindon, UK and though – “well how hard can it really be?”

To be honest, I’ve become obsessed with running and the thought of endurance running. RTTS is my first chance to see if that is a complete pipe dream or whether its something I can genuinely conquer. I feel I can and I want to, but really, an ultra runner – I’m 42 with 4 kids a demanding job and a working wife. This is a bit of a silly idea really.

Sometimes a silly idea turns into an ambition though, and an ambition into something that you just need to do, to prove to yourself, to meet that feeling of challenge and to stare at it face on. I don’t fear fear.

I’ve found myself now watching a lot of ultra runner films, especially The Ginger Runner films, but also films about some of the real serious ultra running events in the US, Western States 100 for example. And if I’m honest, they have really helped. These men and women taking on these monumental challenges are no different from me really, or from you or anybody else. The thing that has enabled them to do what they do is the drive to prove to themselves what they can achieve, that drive to prove the doubt in their mind is wrong, that the voices that make them think “I can’t” are wrong and in fact they can. These films are often emotional for the runners and the teams around them, but they can be touching to watch. Watching Gary Robbins tackle the Barkley Marathons is an amazing film. At the end of the day ultra running to me is not about beating other people, it’s about beating that version of you that doesn’t think you should even line up at the start line, that thinks you shouldn’t have bothered putting those trainers on, or pinning a number to your chest. That’s my race. And when you watch these films, that’s really what most of the runners are competing against. They are competing with each other, but all against different challenges.

So does this mean I am mentally in tune with the 100Km in one day challenge I have lined up. Well no. not really. But does it feel that I am in a position to meet the challenge head on – you absolutely bet I am.

I know in my first Ultra it might be too much, I might not get to the end. It really is a big challenge to try and run as much of it as possible. But to be honest, when I put that number on my shirt and turn to face the start arch, well I’ve already won at that point, and the 100Km ahead of me is my victory lap.

But to be honest, when I put that number on my shirt and turn to face the start arch, well I’ve already won at that point, and the 100Km ahead of me is my victory lap.

Some of the films I find inspiring:

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