Event Review: Race to the King

Whether you chose 23.4, 30.2 miles, or run the whole she-bang, Race to the Stones has quickly established itself as a fantastic race event in the summer trail calendar. And for GRTW runner, Florence Theberge, who came first female for the Day one race, the perfect training race for her first ultra the South Coast Challenge in August 

The morning of the race was gorgeous, with the temperature already warm at 5am, lovely as a start but promising hot conditions for later for the many runners, joggers and walkers taking part in the RTTK 2018. As I was allocated wave B start at 8.15am, I arrived at Arundel train station at 7.15am to waiting for the event shuttle (£10) to the race start.  I arrived there to find many other runners waiting for the shuttle too and we all exchanged stories, some had signed up for both days, some to run it continuously, others to break for the evening and some, like me just doing day one.

Most were from UK, although there were a few runners from as far afield as Poland, who looked very experienced judging by the running kit. And the age range was really diverse, including two ladies in their sixties or seventies who told me they walked the race every year.

Soon we were on our way to the  race start at Gaston Farm (BN18 0RS), arriving just a few minutes before the first wave went off at 8am. The atmosphere was great with the usual warm ups, long toilet queues and the excitement of the runners, support crew and event organisers all in the middle of a farmer’s field just north of the beautiful city of Arundel.

Ten minutes later, my wave was started by a man dressed as a King, carrying a fuming torch,who ran in front of the runners before quickly stepping aside for risk of being trampled over by a hoard of eager runners/walkers.

The start was quite narrow for about a mile, making it difficult to overtake walkers/slower joggers & runners, so I’d recommend anyone else doing this next year to start nearer the front. But soon the path widened and wound through a mixed of shaded, wooded areas and South Down chalky trails, including some steep hills! I love  hills but these were even quite an ascent for me but it gave everyone the opportunity to have a  power walk and refuel. And the reward of the climb was stunning views and picture-perfect landscapes which made me regret having buried my phone at the bottom of my running bag.

Over the 23.4 miles there were 2 feed stations (8 and 16 miles approx.), which were both well provisioned with fruits, sweets, squash, flat cola, and water, while the second stop included for the 1st and the 2nd had savoury snacks and sandwiches – and both hand hand santizers, a new one on me!

I ran most of the race on my own but chatted to a few runners who gave me advice on how to manage cramp during ultras – the Monty Python Walk.  Apparently, if you feel your calves starting to cramp, practice that walk and you’ll be fine. It didn’t quite work for me but that might be due to being already too tired to be able to reverse the process. Thankfully, I was close to the finish for day one where were were cheered in and ushered towards hot food and salad bar.

At the finish, there were also small tents for those who were staying overnight or for the runners who needed a break before pushing on. They were quite close together, so if you are a light sleeper, I’d bring ear plugs. The best thing though were showers, yoga mats for stretching as well as a massage tent provided by Birmingham physio students.

I loved the race but the downside of finishing in such a remote area was the complete lack of mobile phone reception (3 mobile) , and being nine miles from the nearest train station. I didn’t want to wait six hours for the next shuttle at 7.30pm, and so I had to walk another mile to Compton village for a bus (every two hours to Havant).

 

What I learned from the race:

  • A change of scenery is great for fighting the ‘tiredness’ of the training
  • Never, ever neglect 2 things: sleep and strength training, especially your upper body; your body gets tired and you really need your upper body to switch on and help support your body
  • Practice, practice, practice: I used this event as a training run for my A race – my first ultra – and it was a great occasion to test running gear, refuelling on the go, pacing in race conditions.

 

The Good

  • Great organisation from start to finish with clearly marked route and well stocked pit stops (even ice cream!); love the hand sanitizers at every pit stop.
  • Finish area (day 1) greatly set-up; my favourite was the bean bags areas with free newspapers and a giant TV screen to watch the World Cup 2018 football
  • Very good atmosphere, friendly staff and great post-run massage from Birmingham physio students.

The Bad

  • Narrow start meant a very slow jog over almost 1 mile before getting into one’s own pace.

The Ugly

  • No phone reception at the finish area.

Flo is being mentored and coached by GRTW ultra running coach, Sarah Sawyer. For details on our virtual coaching packages please click here

 

Event details:

https://www.racetotheking.com/

Next year date: 22-23 June 2019

Day 1 2018 entry fee £57

Shuttle from Arundel station to race start: £10

YouTube video of full length (not official video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnaaC9A8RRo

 

 

 

Event Review: Vitality London 10km

Nowadays, marathons and ultra races get all the glory but a 10km race is just as challenging – and can be just as fun as the recent Vitality London 10km proved…

Imagine running through the closed streets of London, past steel bands and cheering supporters, past the Houses of Parliament and right along the Mall before ending right in front of Buckingham Palace. Sound familiar? Yes, the Vitality London 10km takes in all the very best parts of the London Marathon route but without the months and months of training or the agony of having to run 26.2 miles. What’s not to like?

The Vitality 10km takes place over the May Bank Holiday and is part of a weekend of activities, with kids’ races and the Vitality Westminster Mile taking place the day before. The 10km race is actually doubles as the British 10km Championships, which means that as I lined up, I found myself about 100 metres from the elite pen (where one of our GRTW coaches, Tara was – lucky her!) where Mo Farah was getting set to race.

 

This is a BIG event with over 8,000 taking part but it is brilliantly organised with six different pens and a clever filtering system that sees you having to file through some barriers before you actually hit the start line, helping to avoid a mass pile up when the klaxon – and Jessica Ennis Hill – started us off.

A 10km race when running hard is, well, hard. But having the kind of support that you’d usually only ever get at a marathon helps you to pick up your feet and keep pushing, past the two water stations, through the shower to cool everyone down on the run and finally, heading straight for Buckingham Palace and the finish line.

If you’re starting near the back of the pens, it’s a long wait to the start line as I saw people on their first kilometre as I was finishing but it’s such a great atmosphere and a rare opportunity to race through the streets of London in the summer when it’s not freezing cold (except for this year’s London Marathon of course which broke all the records!), I don’t think many people minded.

Mo Farah won this one in 29 minutes and 44 seconds, but just as impressive in our eyes was one of the Girls Run the World coaches’ , Tara Shannahan, who PBed with a time of 37.44 minutes – she’s getting faster with age!

After the race, you can hang around in the park where they even have a yoga space where you can unwind and chill out from the run. I nearly didn’t go to this event but I’m so glad I did; whether you run it seriously in a bid to PB or to just enjoy it for the London scenery, this is a destination race (even if you’re a Londoner) that’s worth doing.

 

For details of next year’s Vitality London 10km visit https://www.vitalitylondon10000.co.uk

 

The Good

Great location, brilliantly organised – with added yoga too!

The Bad

Long wait to start if you’re not in the front pen, but that’s standard with London races

The Ugly

Nothing truly bad to say about this event. It’s fab.

If you are training for a 10km and want to get a PB, check out virtual training mentoring which provides customised training, direct to our training app so it’s right at your fingertips. 

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 8th April

Work off that Easter chocolate frenzy this weekend with a beautiful off-road eight mile route from Rottingdean

This is a challenging but stunning route with as many lovely, recovery downhills as uphills to build your strength and endurance on hills (particularly beneficial for those of you joining us for the Girls Run the World get together at Angmering BlueBell Trail Races or the upcoming Snowdonia Maverick Race in September.

The hardship will be rewarded with stunning views, gambolling baby lambs and a route that overlooks Breaky Bottom vineyard (who produce some delicious sparkling wine!) before heading down through Saltdean and along the cliff for a stunning sea side finish.

Will it be 8 miles, or will you add some more at the end to really fire up your face finish for the Bluebell 10 mile trail race? Remember that dastardly hill? Whether you’re taking part in the event or just joining us for the runs, this is a beautiful run that takes in Downs, sea and even a glimpse of Breaky Bottom vineyards!

Location: bottom of Bazehill Road, Rottingdean here/ Parking free.

Footwear: Road shoes will be OK but trail shoes are preferable!

The run is open to all as long as you are regularly running this kind of distance. This is our LAST run before the BlueBell Trail Race. Summer Season starts Sunday 29th April when we drop distance again.

Book online under weekend runs. Lift share via our Girls Run the World Brighton and Hove Facebook group. 

Marathon Mastery Series: What to do when injury strikes

Injury happens to even the most seasoned of marathon runners, but it doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sofa stewing and panicking about your diminishing fitness and not being able to reach your marathon goal…

The reality is that being injured very rarely means you should totally rest*. Ninety nine percent of the time, it means NOT running but keeping up your running fitness and strength to ensure that once you’ve recovered, you can get back on track to your goal without losing your hard run gains. All you need to do is find the right run replacement (check with your physiotherapist FIRST) and perform it correctly to you stay marathon fit and prevent you from slumping into the doldrums.

Don’t fear weights, they are your friend

Hit the pedals

If you can’t run, spinning or using a turbo trainer is a great way to keep up your running fitness and marathon training. But the cycling must be intense enough to create the same physiological effects as running, or as close to this as possible. Which doesn’t mean cycling serenely to the shops or going on a casual ride.

Emily Proto, a Sussex runner and massage therapist, who recently came third at the Brighton Half marathon explains what she did when she broke her fibula.

‘I broke my fibula during the Brighton Marathon 2015 and had to pull out at the 10k point which was devastating,’ she explains. ‘I’d worked so hard in my marathon training,  I didn’t want to lose my fitness and so I started using a stationary bike with my focus being on keeping my heart rate as high on the bike sessions as i do when I run.

‘I did things like five minutes easy, 10 x 1 minute really hard, with 1 minute easy rest between and a final five minute warm down. It took 30 minutes and I added strength training. I had eight weeks off and it took me only five weeks to get back to fitness afterwards.’

If you don’t have your own turbo at home, try spinning at your local gym or the excellent Sufferfest training available at David Lloyd gyms or MyRide at Virgin gyms or Freedom Leisure.

 

Cycling is a great way of keeping run fit – if you ride smart. This is me hiding at the back of the shot after the 312 Majorca...that’s the former Tour de France winner, Miguel Induráin

 

Leap In

So many runners opt to swim when they’re injured, which is a great way to keep the body mobile and stretched. BUT to make it as specific to run fitness, you need to get your heart rate up and that means swim interval sets, just like you do with your running pace work. Try warming up for 100 metres, then do 50 metres at 8/10 effort, 50 metres recovery, x 10. Warm down. If you find swimming boring, this will help to keep it interesting and work your body in a way that’s more consistent with running. Your alternative is to do resistance running in the pool with a buoyancy belt on.

You don’t have to get a wetsuit and all the gear, but you do need to be smart about your training

Row, row, row the boat

Not gently down the stream. Yes, you guessed it, rowing is a fantastic way of keeping up your run fitness and involves all the major muscles of the body (in fact, it could even improve your running arm strength!) but be cautious. As with all of these suggestions, seek the advice of your physiotherapist, BEFORE you decide on which cross training to do. If you have a calf or foot injury, rowing will put a similar pressure through the foot with flexion and extension as you push to row. If it’s OK to row, then this is one al over, heart rate soaring workout. There’s some great suggestions here to keep it interesting.

Ring the bell

Kettle bells are a fantastic way of keeping your strength and cardiovascular fitness for running, particularly transferable physiologically to pace and tempo work. Originally invented in Russia, these metal balls with a handle are swung, with the drive coming from the hips and bottom which helps to build stability and prevent injury in the first place. As the bells swings through the air, your core has to kick in to stabilise the body in the swing trajectory. So, that’s one tick for strength, while all the muscular effort required to drive the correct weighted kettle bell raises your heart rate hugely, tick number two.

If done correctly, with a weight that challenges the body, kettle bells are a fantastic way of keeping up your fitness and don’t take long – a TABATA session of eight rounds of 20 seconds, 10 seconds rest works wonders. We would advise you to get correct tuition in kettle bell swinging before picking it up yourself.

 

 

Your Year in Sport, 2017

For any of you who started using Strava back in January 2017, as part of #grtwrunuary and have kept on using it, now you can see your entire year of sport…

 

Want to see  what your year looked like? Visit http://2017.strava.com