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It has been a few weeks now since the culmination of my adventure in ultra running and completing Race to the Stones and I’ve now recovered well enough to report on finishing my first ultra marathon.

 

Race To The Stones Race Report

 

The idea was to pre-pack my race kit and get an early night. This was not the case as I spent a couple of hours organising strategic meet points with my wife, but later on this proved worth it as it was very important to me.

 

After saying hello to few competitors I knew through Profeet it was time for the off.

The first 30 km

 

It was a warm day and the sun was shining, so spirits were good.  In the early part of the race I started up a few conversations with racers who’d done the event before and picked up some tips.

 

The first 20km was pretty uneventful just making sure I kept drinking and picking up food at the pit stops. Around 30km I started to get my first niggles with my calves cramping up. My wife was a welcome sight at this point as I was able to get a quick massage to loosen off and take on more water.

 

30-50km: Into a dark place

 

Between 30-50km I had real trouble as my legs were seizing up and I developed a sharp shooting pain in one knee. I went into a real dark place and had emotionally withdrawn from the race by the time I got to half-way.

 

I was hot and unable to eat the check point snacks or energy bars I had with me. I was longing for some real food – I did have some peanut butter rice cakes I’d made but not enough!

 

I must have looked as bad as I felt because my wife was speechless, but with some encouragement and the help of the half-way meal my spirits lifted enough to get back out there, attempt another 10km and reassess.

60km: Stronger, but walking

By 60km, I felt much stronger, but the shooting pains in my knee were persistent enough that I couldn’t run anymore. Coming to terms with walking the last 40km was a psychological barrier I had to battle with, as I was prepared to walk large portions of the race but not to the that extent.

 

Once I came to terms with the fact the race was going to take a lot longer I cracked on and got on the march; I’m a strong hiker so that was what the rest of the race was.

 

The late stage of the race hiking around on your own in the dark for hours came with its own challenges mentally yet I knew with every 10km covered I would see my wife again and that became my single biggest motivation at a lonely time.

 

100km: a midnight finish

 

I finished just before midnight, inside my upper time estimation of 16hrs. I thought I would be more elated at completing this task but I think it took a week before I was really proud of my effort.

 

After all the preparation my feet were actually the least of my problems as all I had to show from the race was a small blister on the outside of my left little toe.

 

The one thing I would change from this race would be to run in a road shoe rather than a trail shoe. The ground was so hard that extra cushioning would have improved my overall comfort of the run.  You can read more about the right shoes for Race to the Stones here.

 

I can be my own worst critic and although believing I can do better I’m still undecided whether I’ll face this challenge again.

Huge congratulations to Dan on this massive achievement.  You can follow all eight of Dan’s blogs in his journey from ultra running hero to zero by taking this link.

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