Race to the Stones advice from the Profeet run team

In 2014, Profeet won the team event, with Max Wilcocks finishing 3rd, Pip Blackburn 4th and Chris Howe 24th.  Iain Martin finished in 101st position.


We asked them all for their tips and advice for coping with the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones challenge.  These tips are relevant for all the races in the Threshold Ultra Trail Series events.



Max, Chris, Iain and Pip



What shoes did you wear for the race?



Pip Blackburn: I ran in the Saucony Peregrine 4, they were recommended by Rich from the Profeet Run Lab after an analysis and are great for all terrain stuff.  I now run in the 5 model.


Iain Martin: I use Brooks Cascadias for all my trail running, plus Brooks Adrenalin GTS for road running.


Max Wilcocks: In 2014 I ran in Helly Hansen Kenosha HT.  This year I will be wearing Mizuno Wave Hayate.


Chris Howe: I ran in the Salomon Fellraiser in 2014.


Peregrine Saucony 5

Pip ran in the Peregrine Saucony



What are the main benefits to you of a professional shoe fit and custom insoles?


Pip Blackburn: Most of all the confidence that you’re in the right kit. Ultras are mind games, so it’s one less thing to worry about.


Iain Martin: For me it’s about reducing the risk of injury. I have separate insoles from Profeet in all my run shoes and it stabilises the connection between the foot, shoe and ground.


Max Wilcocks: Going long means looking after your feet and legs.  Nothing is more important than mechanics when it comes to pushing the distance. If your body is out of line the last thing you want to do is to repeat the same action for 10+ hours and compound the issue. Custom insoles make sure I run as efficiently and naturally as possible.



What backpack did you use, and what was in it?


Pip Blackburn: The S-Lab Hydro 5 running vest. I carried half my SIS gels (15ish) to the mid station, 2 x 500ml bottles, pain killers, some Jelly Tots, Oreos and a banana malt loaf which travelled 100k uneaten!

I also carried some fresh socks given to me by Rich from Profeet. In the end, the second half of the race was a lot less boggy than the first, so they weren’t needed.


Iain Martin: I used a 20 litre Quechua backpack bought for the CCC in the Alps a couple of years ago. That’s probably larger than you need for RTTS.  I had a selection of High5 isotonic gels, Gu gels and a peanut/raisin trail mix plus a 2lt Camelbak water pouch which I topped up at every other aid station. I also had a rain jacket, gloves, head torch, Ibuprofen. Normally I would have taken more layers, but it was a warm day!


Max Wilcocks: Ultimate Directions. I hate the hard bottles they give you with the pack, but I swapped them out for some Salomon soft flasks and now I’m living the dream! The last few years this race has been quite hot, so always carry enough H2O.


Max celebrating his podium place

Max celebrating his podium place



Was there anything you wish you’d taken with you that you didn’t?


Pip Blackburn: S! Caps for sure – I’ve only just discovered them. It was a pretty hot day last year so I’m sure they would have come in handy.


Iain Martin: Extra salts and electrolytes would have been useful. It was very humid at the start and I struggled with dehydration through the day.  Fortunately I was able to get some disgusting-tasting, but effective rehydration powder.


Max Wilcocks: When they are handing out ‘Chomp’ bars at Checkpoint 3 you don’t really want for anything else!


succeed caps


What did you do for nutrition?  Did you carry it all with you, or use the aid stations?


Pip Blackburn: I always get really weird looks when I do it but I get on the gels right from the off because it works for me. I was carrying gels but made full use of the aid stations making sure I grabbed something different each time, bananas, strawberries, nuts etc.  I was taking three gels an hour very happily until the last few hours when I was just getting whatever seemed slightly digestible inside me.


I also carried half a dozen High5 energy capsules in my bag to break into a bottle at every other station. I was taking on roughly 500ml an hour so had the extra available if I needed it for when it got pretty hot.


Iain Martin: My nutrition plan did not work for me at all on the day. In retrospect, I think I got dehydrated very early on, despite the fact that I drank 7-8 litres of liquid during my 13 hours on the course.


Max Wilcocks: I always feed from the aid stations, but also carry much of my own food. The aid stations will usually have crisps, nuts and fruit, which I go to town on.  Then I carry my own foods – I have nut balls made for me by Press. I fuel off high fat for races.



RTTS-aid sign



Did you feel ill/injured at all during the race and if so, how did you deal with it?


Pip Blackburn: I had a bit of tightness for the first 30km which is probably why I did a negative split but to be honest I felt pretty good for the majority of the race. It seems obvious but I just took it steady and ran my own race.


Iain Martin: I found it difficult to digest almost anything and had stomach cramps from as early as 25km in.  I kept trying to eat, trying different things, but around 60km I realised I was better off not eating at all and felt much better for it.  It was a gamble, but I actually improved and make it to the end.


Max Wilcocks: It has been pretty warm for the race the last few years. The heat can get to you even in the UK. I struggled between a few checkpoints, but it was nothing that couldn’t be fixed by chucking back a few glasses of water at the next aid station.





How did you travel to the start on the day of the race?  Did you stay overnight nearby at either start or finish? 



Pip Blackburn: I was lucky as a relative lives near Chinnor


Iain Martin: The logistics were tricky.  I was up at 4am, took a train from Brighton, a cab across London, a train to Princes Risborough, and another cab to the start (shared cab with a guy I found through the RTTS Facebook page).  After the race I stayed with a friend in Swindon.


Max Wilcocks: I drove to the start, left my car there and arranged to be collected from the finish.





What sort of training were you doing in the build to the race?


Pip Blackburn: Although my mileage was a bit variable, usually ranging from 40-55, I was consistently putting in a mix of tempo runs, progression, intervals, hill reps, long and easy runs. I was running perhaps 5-7 times a week with no doubles.


I ran my first ultra two months prior to RTTS and my longest run for that was about 28 miles on the trail. Most of my miles were on the South Downs: I think miles on the trail are worth their weight in gold. I’d usually never go over three hours on my long run though.


Iain Martin: I came into this race off an Ironman triathlon, so I had a good endurance base, but I only averaged 30 miles a week running in the two months before the race.  My longest run in training was 3½ hours.


Do you have any special memories from the RTTS course?


Pip Blackburn: The flat coke at aid station 9 was the highlight of my day, after winning the team trophy of course!  Also seeing Rob Young was awesome, his story is just incredible.


Iain Martin: It’s hard to beat that feeling of crossing the line. There were some amazing views along the way.



RTTS-oldest path


15% Discount for all entrants


If you have entered Race To The Stones, regardless of whether you are planning to complete the event over one or two days, you are entitled to a 15% discount on a Profeet run assessment.

867-869 Fulham Road
London SW6 5HP

call 020 7736 0046
email info@profeet.co.uk

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