The 100k (62 miles) Race to the Stones is pitched as one of ‘the most accessible ultras out there’, catering for the rapidly increasing number of ultra runners for whom it seems that a marathon distance of 26.2 miles isn’t long enough.
On Sunday at 1.30am, when my head torch finally failed descending from Bovine, I still refused to believe that having come this far, the race would beat me. I stumbled and fell in almost the pitch black on the descent down to Trient, desperate to make the next cut off.
A year-and-a-half ago I’d never even heard of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc – the craziest most extreme ultramarathon of the lot. But the moment I discovered it, a little light went on, and it’s stayed on all this time. The UTMB – 100 miles across the Alps with 10,000 metres of elevation – has consumed my waking hours ever since and even a few my dreams.
One of the best things about ultra-marathon running is the people you share the experience with. And when I took part in the 2012 Marathon des Sables (MdS) – a multi-day, 153-mile event across the Sahara desert – I was thrilled to discover I was in the same race as the fantastic Meghan Hicks, albeit at opposite ends of the final result standings.
I don’t think of myself as an especially emotional person. I love a show tune, and Barry Manilow gets me every time. You’ll find me screaming at the TV when Manchester City are playing. But generally I’m on an even keel.
Another weekend, another two-day blast as my training intensifies for the UTMB – now only four-and-a-half months away. This time I headed west for XNRG’s brilliantly organised Cotsworld Way Ultra-marathon. It took in 60 miles of the 102-mile national trail which runs from Chipping Campden in the north to Bath in the south.
Lunchtime running. Work takes up so much time that it can be difficult to fit in the training. One way round this that I’ve found is to run in my lunch break. If there’s time to go to the pub, there’s definitely time for a run.
Running events take you all over the country and perhaps to somewhere you wouldn’t usually choose to visit for a weekend – this time it was Hastings for the annual half marathon.
Up until the age of eight, I lived on the edge of Richmond Park and thought it was the size of a small country. We walked the dog there and I thought I’d circumnavigated the globe. We moved away, I grew up, went to college and for years I did very little exercise. Richmond Park was forgotten.
This weekend’s training felt like a hard slog and merely a means to an end. It involved a three-hour crisscrossing of Richmond Park in the rain and I didn’t really enjoy it.
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