This weekend saw me take on an ultra running event called Race To the King. This event covers 53 miles of trails across the south downs. I only signed up to this just over 6 weeks ago after Shadi Ganjavian-conner came up with the idea for us and Jon Flynn to take part in an event together. We all met earlier in the year at the award ceremonies we attended. Unfortunately, in the weeks leading up to the event, Shadi broke her toe and had to pull out.
Race day was upon us and myself and Jon took our places on the start line. The horn went off and we followed a king waving a flare as we passed my cheering girls. After 400 meters I looked back and noticed we had run off a long way ahead of the group, so we decided we should slow it down a bit. It took a few miles to settle into the race but we were running well despite the rising temperatures. I had been warned about the hills and its fair to say they didn’t lie, they were tough and there was nowhere to hide from the beating sun. We were doing well and still on track, but the sections we could run were becoming a struggle for me. I knew the heat was starting to get to me but kept pushing on to keep up with Jon. After we had left aid station two there was a really big hill and I was starting to feel rough. I took on even more fluids and tried to reset myself, but as the miles past, I was feeling the effects more and more. The last thing I wanted to do ruins Jon’s race as he had the energy and the drive to go ahead, so I told him to leave me at mile 20. Jon has an amazing running base fitness from his challenge of running 500 days in a row.
Shortly after there was yet another hill, I reached the top and realised that this wasn’t the type of course that was going to give me a section to recover on. By now I was feeling really dizzy and soon started to feel sick. The next two miles I walked and had one of the biggest internal battles of all time. I had two choices, keep pushing on and risk weeks of recovery or for the first time ever register a DNF (Did Not Finish) due to physical issues. People who know me will happily tell you that when it comes to finishing races, I’m not the most sensible. I have a T-shirt that reads ‘Death before DNF’, so you can see this was a big decision for me. It all came down to the fact this was never my ‘A’ race and I have a much more important event in just 6 weeks. This was just supposed to be a fun event to do together, It wasn’t worth damaging myself for a medal. I decided that wouldn’t be adding to my other 7 ultra runs today, so after 23.65 miles I called it a day. This now puts my 118 event tally at, 116 events finished and 2 DNF (1x mechanical and 1x physical).
I spent the rest of the day supporting Jon through the event via messages and I was so pleased to be there as he came across the finish line. He did an amazing job and I hope he is proud of what he has achieved. It was a tough course and conditions, he pushed through when it mattered. I look forward to racing alongside him in the future.
The sting in the tail of this race is actually a sting, or ten to be precise. I had been bitten by insects so bad that I ended up in minor injuries on Sunday evening for antibiotics. On the plus side, my triceps and hamstrings look like I have been doing serious weight training.
It’s safe to say that the weekend never went to plan, but I always learn more from tough races. I have a race t-shirt that will be a good reminder of the lessons from this weekend. Looking forward to racing in the Cotswolds for my next event.