“Do you mind if I run with you for a bit?”- Dave at mile 40. I’d never met Dave before, other than exchanging the odd “Hi, how’s it going earlier” in the race. At just after 10pm on Saturday evening, we crossed the finish line of Race to the Stones, having run the last 23 miles of the 63 mile race together- we ran together, we walked together, we snacked together, we chatted, we high fived, he held the gates open for me, and we got each other through the hard yards of this race.
The day before the race I felt nauseous all day. I had my final nutrition exam of the year in the morning, so I think it was a combination of nerves about that and the race that led to me feeling sick-I just wanted to get to the race and get started. I don’t even really know how to put into words how I feel about the race, and it still feels like a bit of a dream- so this will probably be a long ramble!
100km (or 102km!) is a long way, so you can’t think of it in those terms during the race. My aim was break the race down into the distances between the pit stops, each pit stop became the next goal. I wore my Garmin 305 (which incredibly lasted for 56 miles!) but turned it onto map mode, occasionally glancing to see what time of day it was.
I ran the first 4 miles with Amelia, which was nice to get into a rhythm and settle into the race, we had a good chat before she zoomed off, and I reigned in the pace a little bit- long way ahead! The initial sections of the course were nicely shaded, I was hoping it would be like that later on- spoiler…it wasn’t! It was hillier than I thought it would be (that’s London for you!), and there were some real stingers, from the start I walked up anything resembling a slight incline to save my legs. I couldn’t believe how slow I was at walking, I was really trying, but everyone was moving so much faster than me- I should of done more fast walking during training!
As well as hilly, the course in places was also quite technical, a lot of the initial sections were quite tough single track over tricky terrain. At mile 11, I was slightly hesitant on a downhill section, I tripped, and couldn’t stop myself as I completely stacked it and skidded downhill- thankfully it was a dirt path section rather than one of the more unforgiving sections. 2 guys helped me up and checked I was OK- I was fine, I just felt like an idiot, and had cut my hand. I’ve only fell over when running once before about 4 years ago so I couldn’t believe I had done it, and so early on in the race as well. I decided to head to the next aid station to sort myself out.
Not long after this I could see Bec’s up ahead of me, which I thought was weird as she is speedy, and I am not! She had also fallen, and thought she had dislocated her shoulder, she was in a lot of pain and moving slowly towards the next aid station. I carried on after checking in with her for a bit, and had no idea what happened to her- until the next day when I found out she had finished with a fractured arm- complete and total hero!!
I got to the second aid station a few miles after my fall, and realized not only had I cut my hand, but I’d also cut my elbow, both knees and my leg!! Adrenaline in the moment meant I had missed that completely- I used some antiseptic wipes to clean the wounds-ouch!- and the medic sprayed some savlon spray on and I was good to go. A bit battered, and filthy but it could have been worse!
I started eating quite early during the race, and continued eating for the entire 14 hours. I ate so much food, I had absolutely no appetite after I finished, and it hasn’t returned 3 days on!! I was worried about what would be at the aid stations so I carried loads with me, but I needn’t have bothered- there was loads of Vegan friendly options-fruit, porridge, soup, pasta, snack bars, nuts, dried fruit etc. I was sweating a lot, it was extremely hot and humid, and most of the course was fully exposed to the sun. I drank to thirst, but I was extremely thirsty the whole way. I filled up my camelbak a few times on the way, and I had two cups of fluid at each pit stop too (Including…shock horror…squash and coke!). I also had some cherry active juice for it’s anti-inflammatory effects, and I took Living Nutrition’s Keflamex three times during the day, and I really think it helped.
The distance never felt overly daunting, if you think too much about it or get wrapped up in it then I suppose it could. I just focused on enjoying the beautiful course, being out of the city, in the fresh air, touching the wild flowers as I went.
As I neared 30 miles I knew I was getting close to the half way point. At about 32 miles the tent came into view, and I ran up and through the half way chip point. I wasn’t sure whether to stop here, my tactic had been in and out at all of the pit stops- loo break/water fill up/grab snacks and go-but here I headed in to see if I could see any of the 50k runners. I could hear my name being called, and headed over to catch up with Cat and Rhianon- who came 1st and 3rd ladies in the 50k, legends!-we had a quick chat, Rhianon gave me some wet wipes which was fantastic, considering I was still covered in dirt from the fall, I also took some electrolyte tabs, as it was very hot and I was sweating a lot! I grabbed a swig of Cats cider which was lush- wish I could of had a full one! I ran to the food tent, had a quick plate of plain white pasta and was on my way- I think for all the pit stops combined I stopped for about 40-50 mins total which wasn’t bad, and this was my longest stop at probably around 15 mins or so. I felt rejuvenated having seen the girls, and was actually feeling pretty good for the next few miles as I headed out, energy levels were good, legs felt OK. I think I went through halfway in about 6.45 so I was just about on for a daylight finish! I had walked a lot in the first half, so I didn’t think the second half would be much slower, as long as it wasn’t too hilly…spoiler…it was undulating!
The next section was reasonably flat to undulating, so I made some good progress and kept moving forward. I had a nice chat with one lady for a while, who gave me some tips on fast walking which I think helped as I just felt like I was moving backwards compared to everyone else! I kept wishing for the clouds to come over, because it was so hot. My stomach was completely fine for the whole race which I was delighted about, despite eating a lot the whole way round. I was concerned about the complete lack of needing to pee (I think I went two/three times in 14 hours!), but I was sweating so much I figured I was losing a lot of water that way, and continued to drink to thirst- holding back whenever my stomach felt a bit sloshy.
After mile 36 I was into uncharted territory as my longest ever run! At mile 40, Dave asked if he could run with me, and we chatted as the miles past, running on the flats, and walking any inclines- although it was hard to tell what was an incline at this point!! As we passed mile 46 I knew we had a quarter to go, although a quarter still seemed like a long way, we were getting there! The miles were ticking by, and milestones were passing, a marathon to go, 20 miles to go, a quarter to go. There was a huge hill at mile 47 which was a toughie, but it flattened out a bit after and we made some more progress. As long as we were moving forward we were heading towards home! There was great banter out on the course, and I chatted to some incredible and inspiring people.
50 miles was a big milestone, and as we headed into the evening. I was relieved to see the sun go down, although it was still very humid, but there was a nice breeze on the more exposed sections. The penultimate pitstop marked about a half marathon to go, and I knew we were cutting it tight with the light, at this point I let my parents know I was closing in, so they could leave Wales to come and watch the finish.
I never sat down other than for about a minute to wolf some pasta down, and I had absolutely no issues at all with my legs, thankfully my ITB was well behaved. My quads were pretty ruined on the downhills later on, I had to walk the one at mile 53 as it was so steep and I just felt like I was going to fall over. My feet were also totally fine, one toe was getting a little sore later on in the race but they are in perfect condition right now- they don’t look like they have run at all!
At nearly 57 miles my Garmin ran out, which in one way was a blessing, as it was probably going to feel like the hardest and longest part- but also the not knowing perhaps made it seem more drawn out. The night was drawing in fast, but we made pretty good headway, and I am most proud about miles 58-61 where we really pushed on- I say pushed on, we were doing like 11 minute miling- but it felt fast with 60 odd miles in the legs, and it was probably the longest consistent period of running we had done in the second half of the race- I actually felt really good and was determined to get the job done, and barring disaster we would be done very shortly.
We could see the lights and hear the cheers of the finish, but we had to go to the stones on an out and back first- I can honestly say this was the longest mile of my life, it was getting quite dark, and the section seemed to go on forever, this is the first time in the entire race, where I didn’t want to-or couldn’t- run anymore, so we settled into a walk, found the stones, and headed back towards the finish. When you expect something to be 62 miles, and it’s longer, that extra bit seems never-ending! We walked though the farm field as it was pretty dark at this point and the course wasn’t the best in this section, it was quite rutted. As we turned the final corner, we broke into a little jog to finish just after 10pm, in 14.07.17.
My parents and brother were there, which was lovely, and then I caught up with Sorrell-who came 2nd lady, superstar!- and some of the other WMNRUN100 team. I bundled into the car, and headed back to Wales for some much needed rest, completely high on life and adrenaline, so much so I only slept for 2 hours that night!
It’s three days on and it still feels like it didn’t happen. So much work went into this race, but anything can happen on the day, and luck was on my side to ensure there were no issues. I never had any moments where I didn’t think I could do it, where I questioned what I was doing, where I was really struggling- I might have blacked them out, but honestly I just didn’t really have any tough moments other than that last section to the stones. I thought I was really going to be quite emotional, and I was going to have to dig very deep and go through some pretty tough times but I was very in control- some lady at around 50 miles told me I didn’t even look like I had been running! I was just astounded at how incredible the human body is, and what we can achieve if we really set our minds to it.
Finally, well done to everyone who completed or even started the race-most of all my fellow WMNRun100 team- it takes a lot just to rock up on the start line, and as I said before, it’s not about the race, it’s about the journey as a whole. I will bask in the glory of this one for a while, and I am so proud of all the incredible women, who I have trained with, run with, and who started or finished the races over the weekend. You are all amazing.
28/131 Sen Female