Well, Race to the Stones. You were….. hmmm. What word to use? Brilliant, hot, tough, fun, beautiful, painful. There are so many words to describe this one.
It was an early wake up call, Rich picked me up at 5am to be at the start in time for our 8.15 start wave. Which was fine until we got stuck in a huge queue coming off the motorway, which was entirely caused by traffic for the race. It seemed like lots of cars were coming out of the farm where the start was, having dropped runners off. I do feel like the has to be a better system for those who aren’t parking to not clog up the whole area.
Soon enough we were off. It soon transpired that we wouldn’t be able to run as much as we’d hoped to. The terrain was tricky a lot of the way and we were stuck behind a large number of walkers. I understand and support that a lot of people do walk this event, but it would be good if something could be done with the start waves so that those intending to run at least some don’t can be ahead of walkers.
Irrespective of this, we were soon having a good time and passed pitstop 1. With hindsight we should have eaten more there as, by the time we got to pitstop 2, we were flagging. We didn’t realise how much until we had a sandwich and some crisps and suddenly perked up.
Pitstop 2 – best cheese sandwich!
I’m not going to write a kilometre by kilometre account as that wouldn’t be very interesting and there’s quite a lot that I can’t remember! But my main take-away memories are:
- The checkpoints were brilliant, with the volunteers eternally cheery despite it being the middle of the night at some of them. I was very impressed at the range of snacks available and that they were mostly different at all of the checkpoints so you didn’t get bored.
- Toilets! I was so so happy to find plenty of toilets at each checkpoint and they were clean! Even towards the end of the race when, for those of us who were nearer the back, hundreds of runners must have already used them. Such a little thing but so nice.
- Walking through the night was wonderful. I thought I’d hate it and got a bit teary as the sun was going down but I found that I really enjoyed it. Seeing the sun go down and then seeing the world getting light again was pretty special.
- It’s such a friendly event. Lots of people chatted to us along the route, and you tend to see the same people on and off through the day, leapfrogging each other as you overtake them stop, they overtake then stop.
- The showers at the end were amazing, hot and plenty of water. Having the barn available or have a snooze was fabulous too.
Towards the end, things got pretty bad. My toes and left hip were very painful and Rich had picked up and ankle and knee injury. The track was very hard and rocky and very narrow so it was really tricky to walk on. You can see the Stones from the top of the hill but it’s a bit of a mirage, never seeming to get closer. Then when you do eventually get down, you have to pass the gate to the finish to go to the Stones, it’s simply soul destroying. I’d been sobbing long before this point and then sobbed again as we headed from the Stones back to go to the finish. Managed to get a non-sobbing photograph though!
The main issue I had with the event was that we underestimated how long it would take us (who can realistically estimate 100km if you haven’t done it before!) We therefore missed our shuttle bus, the next one was full and we had to wait 7 hours after we finished for the first bus with some space. As it happens, it wasn’t too bad. We slept, we showered, we ate, we got our blisters popped 🤢, we slept some more.
Like turkeys ready for the oven – space blankets and snoozing at the end
And so, RTTS is done. Would I do it again? I doubt it. Am I glad I did it? Abso-flipping-lutely!
I’m raising money for Maggie’s Centres who are supporting friends through cancer treatment at the moment. So now you’ve trawled your way through my slightly dull blog, if you can afford to spare a few pounds, all donations are very gratefully received.