Race Report by Lisa Jay
Build up to Race to the Stones had not been great, Achilles injury, house move and new job limited training to one 35km flat canal run and 300 views of the RTTS promo on YouTube!
When we arrived at 7am on Saturday the blue skies on YouTube were no where to be seen but plenty of smiles, I was running with a friend (Known in Massey circles as Annemaz the Badger) and we had a pact to stick together …. so confident of finishing I brought another finishers T-shirt in advance (so I’d have a blue and black one) and put it into my luggage transfer bag which I would see the next day.
7:35am lots of excitement we headed to start line, avoiding the guys to the warm-up, as first 20km would be our actual warm-up. Klaxon sounded at 7:45 and we were off in waterproofs plodding through wet grass, 7:50 stopped to take off waterproof as getting too hot and started to regret (physio advised) choice of road shoes and continued run/walking.
Pit Stop 1 – 10.3km – lots of excitement in the pouring rain on all the wonderful snacks and food on offer (I went for a Graze box and banana) and continued on with waterproof back on. Next 10km were probably most technically demanding trail, through Grims Ditch – narrow ledges, tree routes with lots of elevation.
Pit Stop 2 – 22.9km – refuelled hydration pack, had some fruit and congratulated ourselves on meeting our target of a 3 hour ish half marathon. During next 10km rain stopped and we got to run through the amazing Field of Dreams, not in the sparkling sunshine on YouTube but still a pretty cool experience – at this point we’re both loving life.
Pit Stop 3 – 33.8 km – Starving!! Had best flapjack ever, flat coke and banana which set us up for next stage which was through lots of long grass – views are breathing and spy some amazing houses but its too wet to stop for pictures.
Pit Stop 4 – 43.8 – feeling great as we had smashed our sub 7 hour marathon distance target by 15 mins. On jog in to Pit Stop bump into fellow Massey Jonathan who is also in great spirits, wish him well and ignore the fact my feet are hurting but start on the paracetamol. Next few km are pretty hilly and are walking / running ratio increases.
Pit Stop 5 – 50.7km – Base camp for those splitting it in for two days. We make the decision to stop and have a proper rest and meal for 30 minutes as we’d hit our 8 hour target. Definitely best decision as we start off again bouncing along the trail.
Pit Stop 6 – 58.6km – On the jog in, I exchange pleasantries with a lovely lady, she passes me and I clock the red and white quarters pinned to her back pack, its Kim Mattock-Baylo, we have a quick chat and selfie and she cracks on whilst we stock up on more food…. feet really starting to hurt now, ignore and pop more pills.
Pit Stop 7 – 66.6km – More trail, lots of it rutted but we plod on – it’s completely dry and late evening sunshine comes out, we get to checkpoint and have a sandwich… I look at people getting their feet fixed up by medics and decide to ignore the pain.
Pit Stop 8 – 79.2km – the worst part of the run by a long way, were both confused by how far we’ve covered, we walk / run across fields and roads, the headtorches go on …. the only thing that comes out of my mouth are swear words, stop talking about finish times. Arrive at pit stop pretty flat, decide to sit down for ten minutes have chocolate, caffeine, ignore feet and pop more pills.
Pit Stop 9 – 88km – Progress is slow in the dark but we keep moving forward actually quicker than previous 10km, delirium kicks in, I mistake cows lying down for abandoned aircraft, I then realise there are loads of cows in field and get freaked out, Annemaz keeps me focused as we plod on through the fields. Arrive at pit stop, Annemaz gets feet fixed, I ignore mine, eat Nutella sandwiches and text hubby to start driving to finish.
To finish – Rutted trail either steep down or steady up, Garmin making no sense, we’re both planning never to do this again, we’re both fed up of trails and the unpolluted sky. Just before the 95km sign appears two friends of mine pass us offering words of encouragement and explain route in, we can see the finish but there’s a long way down to get to it…. I can’t remember anything then until 1km to go sign, somehow we find the strength to run / walk, 500km to go and its lovely flat concrete path – its 2am but there’s noise and support, we hold hands, I cry and we cross the line in 18 hours 46 mins – whether it’s a good or a bad time is completely irrelevant…. we’d run 100km non-stop.
Afterwards – Cry more, cuddle hubbie and kids, remind youngest son he is now my favourite as he was the only one who actually thought I’d finish, remove shoes – worst blister fears are confirmed, hungry kids eat my free post race meal …. I put on my T-shirt with my medal and feel absolutely shell shocked!