I’d been looking forward to this weekend! With Race to the Stones on the horizon as a scary challenge it was nice to be able to look forwards to this race; a distance I’ve done before and I saw it as a taster for Race to the Stones.
I stayed in Arundel the night before the race- luckily I got talked into that by Darren (@runnersknees) as I’d planned to get the train down there from London the morning of the race which would have been a REALLY early start so a handy B&B with room to spare was awesome!
It was an early start on race day. I had my bag all packed with everything I plan to carry for Race to the Stones. I saw Race to the King as a Dress Rehearsal so I know I’m comfortable carrying it all & wearing the kit I’ll be wearing on the day.
It was an early start to try & eat some porridge I didn’t really want but knew I needed the fuel so I ate it all. Lesson 1 was learnt for Stones- with the early start I didn’t drink my cup of tea so I’ll have a take out cup ready for Stones so I can take it with me on the early shuttle to the start. We walked down to the train station for the 7am shuttle to the start. It was a short journey and I chatted to some other runners. It was like arriving at a festival on a bus, it was a great atmosphere & as we arrived we could see all other runners getting ready to begin.
We got off the bus & headed to the marquee to register & get our numbers, & then to get our tshirts that we’d got as we were signed up for both Kings & Stones. I dutifully filled in the form on my race number- I’m guilty of not always doing this but on a trail run I think it’s a good idea. I managed to get my number on my top straight 1st time (#winning!). Then we dropped our bags off at the van going to the marthon finish. It was all superbly organised & easy. I joined the loo queue, which went down really fast- certainly appreciate a race having enough toilets for the runners (hear that Brighton?). Then we joined Emma, Chelsea & Sarah in the starting area.
I was a bit anxious around the start as I was imagining what it would be like in 3 weeks when I’m on the start line at Race to the Stones- I warned the others that I might have a little cry at the start of that one – I did the morning of my first marathon, the night before my 1st 50k so I expect to have a bit of a moment before the 100k too. What can I say? All the emotion of the excitement & nerves get to me before a massive challenge.
It was exciting to get started. Darren ran ahead & I ran with the Emma, Chelsea & Sarah for a while. We chatted our way along a slow-ish start due to the amount of runners- but that was fine by me- no need to get too excited & start too fast. We were soon over taken by a Pink Gorilla! All the runners nearby looked on with awe as the Pink Gorilla ran into the distance. As if it wasn’t a hard enough challenge- I was hot in my shorts & vest.
The girls ran ahead as they’re speedier than me & I’m happy doing my own thing. I saw Darren who didn’t seem very happy so I offered to run with him a while but he insisted I carried on. I saw the girls a couple of times until a big hill came -we all walked up it but I seem to walk at a bit of a snails pace up the hills.
There was a gorgeous run through some woods & I sped up, then sped up some more when I heard 2 runners talking politics- I realised I hadn’t thought of it till then & I didn’t need that today so I ran faster to get away from them.
The course was absolutely beautiful. The scenery was stunning: trail & sun, rain & mud, beautiful places & beautiful people.
I loved chatting to other runners, I met so many lovely & interesting people including: 2 girls who are doing Fire & Ice in Iceland later this year- 1 of which did Grand Union (145 miles!) a few weeks ago; a guy who wasn’t sure whether to do the run on Day 2 as he is doing Al Andalus Ultimate Trail (a 5-day, 230km ultra-marathon) in a few weeks; I met a girl who was doing this as her 1st marathon; & got some great tips from people who had done Race to the Stones before. I did slow a few times to talk to people- this was a training run after all, I was out to enjoy it & the more time I spent on my feet the better training it was for Stones (that’s my strange logic anyway).
The check points were great. I’m not one that takes full advantage of these but a lot of people loved it. I drank a bit at the stops & topped my water up but I didn’t stay there too long (& I don’t eat- I’m happy with tailwind, coke & water). There were even toilets at the check points for those that needed them.
The course was so easy to navigate- I didn’t worry about being lost at all. There were lots of arrows to put your mind at ease so you couldn’t go off course.
It had been a beautiful morning but then it started to rain- we all put on our rain jackets & carried on. There was thunder in the distance and a massive downpour. It was nuts running through it but quite fun too. We had to be a bit more careful with our footing as things got a bit slippery. There was a wooded area that a group of us ran/walked through carefully as there were a lot of tree roots. One girl slipped over, she was ok- just very muddy- everyone offered her whatever they had but she didn’t need anything. After the rain there were some pretty big puddles too- being a couple of miles from the end I decided to just run straight through them (must not do that if there’s still a long way to go as my feet were very wet & muddy).
I saw Chelsea coming up to the end who was suffering a bit from ITB issues & I offered anything I had with me but we were near the end (for me- half way point for those doing the full) so she declined.
I was excited to be near the end so was ready to pick up some speed – I did this for about a minute before turning a corner to a mahoosive steep hill. I slowly climbed that & then at the top knew the end was close. I would have happily carried on.
I was so happy to cross the finish line. I went in search of a medal & got the mandatory finish/bling photo. I got some water & cake & then saw Steve (@stevemac) & we waited for Darren to cross the finish with a pint from the well placed bar that was very close to the finish line.
Darren soon finished and I was relieved that he had enjoyed at least some of it after seeing him looking unhappy so early on. The three of us headed inside with our pints. The area inside was awesome. There was hot food (2 types of pasta), lots of cake, & tea & I went to get changed & discovered some showers too so I enjoyed an unexpected shower to get rid of some of the mud & got some clean clothes on. There was also a camp here for those doing the 53 over 2 days.
Then we had to figure out how to get back to Arundel- we had been warned to book taxis 2 weeks in advance but we had no way of knowing what time we’d all be done. There was a 7.50pm shuttle but that would have been a long wait. I asked the lovely lady at the info point & she gave me some numbers for cab companies but they were all booked up with another big local event. I tried some numbers in Arundel to but they were also booked up. The organisers took my number & said they’d call if they could help. They soon called and a lovely guy called Alex was going to give us a lift to the nearest train station, as we were on our way I discovered all the trains from there were canceled (well done Southern). Luckily Alex was free for a while & offered to take us back to Arundel- where Steve had parked his car & Darren & I could get a train back to London. What an absolute star- without the help of the organisers & Alex we would have had quite a long wait.
On Sunday whilst having a lazy morning & catching up on twitter I checked out the results from the run…..it turns out I was 2nd lady out of 49 doing the marathon!!!
Incredible! I can’t believe it- me 2nd! The serious people were doing the 53 miles but I am still SO proud- I’m not a fast runner so being able to say I was 2nd is SO awesome! I will be printing off the finishers certificate. I also found that Steve was 2nd male & Darren was 7th out of 25- so we all did amazing! Spencer also sent a tweet out to let me know we’d made the highlights video:
The ukrunchat gang that were doing the full did amazing too. Emma & Spencer both finished, sadly Chelsea didn’t finish but she did amazingly getting as far as she did with the injury.
I had an absolutely awesome weekend! I loved it. I am now finally actually excited for Stones. It was such a well organized event & such a lovely atmosphere I would definitely be up for this one next year & would definitely recommend it.