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

 

 

 

How was your weekend running?

Mountain running and park runs , I’m a little late with this weekend post from 7th-8th July but my excuse? Holding running in the lovely Italian Dolomites and Lake Garda…


 

If you ever fancy a DIY running holiday,  I can’t recommend Lake Garda and the Dolomites enough. I was there last week, firstly in the Dolomites to take part in an arduous but absolutely amazing cycle sportive, Maratona Dles Dolomites. I then stayed on and just ran the trails that I could find. Hilly, hard but absolutely stunning with nothing but the babble of mountain springs and the gentle ring of cowbells through the clear air.

The amazing thing about this area, Alta Badia is that during the summer, they even put on regular weekly runs for five euros, that you can just join and they’ll guide you through amazing mountain trails. I didn’t have time but I definitely plan to return. Details here

Running is big in every country now but, until I went to Italy I had no idea just how huge the trail running scene is, not to mention fantastic ultra trails. Just a weeks before,  was the Laveredo Ultra Trail Race  which The Guardian’s Adharanand Finn wrote about last week (read it here).

A few days later, I travelled from the Dolomites to Lake Garda, where I kept coming across placards on the mountains and billboards advertising incredible races. On one hike, I saw signs for the Lake Garda Mountain Race. Sounds amazing, I thought. The clue was in the name though, this is a race that starts on the lake level at the beautiful Malsecine and climbs from 68 metres to 2128 metres. Bearing in mind I had DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) for 48 hours from walking down, you can imagine how crazy fit you’d have to be.

Still some way to go

But this area holds a special place in my running heart, as it is Lake Garda that was my very first marathon – it was hot, it poured with rain, the race refreshment included biscuits (which I tried – doh!) and there was Prosecco on the  finishing line. (You can read the article I wrote about the race here). It was also the location of one of our busiest race trips with over 32 Girls Run the World runners joining us for the 10km and 15 mile race.

But back here in the UK,  it was a super hot weekend with lots of our runners reporting suffocatingly hot park runs from Scotland to Southampton. Did you run?

And if you are off on holiday soon, what do you do about running? Do you still run, how do you explore?

We’d love to hear from any of you who race, where you ran, what you thought, would you recommend it? Comment below or in our Facebook group.

 

 

 

GRTW Explore the Downs Trail Run, 24th June

Love running off-road but unsure where to run or worried about getting lost? Or are you visiting Brighton for the weekend and have your trainers with you and would love to explore? Join us this Sunday for a gorgeous run that will take you through poppy fields and via the amazing Breaky Bottom vineyard 

here at GRTW, we colour our running seasons, January – March is usually the white season – skies full of cloud, snow on the ground. March to April, is yellow season for all the daffodils, then it’s the Blue Season, which is all about the carpets of bluebells.

But right now, we’re at the tale end of the Red Season, with poppies carpeting the fields with the Purple Season edging in with the powder purple of flowering flax. This and more you’ll get to see on our nine mile run open to anyone who can run the distance.

For those wanting a shorter route, there is a 4.5 mile route, with the latter part returning on your own on a easy -straight back to car park – route.

Book online, £10. Details of where to meet can be found here. All runs leave at 8.30am.

 

 

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Power Bombs

So, you hate gels or want to avoid them while training? Try our all natural energy balls

 

  • Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 15 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (plus 1/4 cup for rolling)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • pinch of rock salt
  • 1 tablespoon water if needed

Method

Put almonds into a food processor and pulse until it forms a flour (or you can use packet almond flour). Now add the remaining mixture and pulse until combined. If it seems dry, add a bit more coconut. Then spoon out the mixture and roll into balls. Coat each ball by rolling in coconut.

These are great for afternoon snacks, pre and post run and every time in between. You can also play around with the ingredients, changing the nut (pecan and walnut?) and add cinnamon, ginger, even a bit of cracked black pepper.

If you’re lucky enough to run with us in Brighton, some of our runners even get these at the end of a run.

GRTW Recipes for Foodie Runners: Ricotta Pancakes

We don’t know about you, but we often fantasise about what we’re going to enjoy eating during a long run. And so after we tried a version of these at Ott0lenghi one weekend, we had to give them a go ourselves. They’re delicious, and make for a perfect post run brunch at the weekend…

Ingredients 

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup plain flour*

1/2 tsp baking powder

1  tbsp caster sugar

3/4 cup of milk or non-diary substitute

2 large eggs, separated

2 tsp cinnamon

Butter for cooking

*for an added protein kick, replace the flour with almond flour although it will make for a denser, less fluffy pancake.

Method

Combine, flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk ricotta, milk and the yolks of the eggs.  Combine with the dry ingredients and add the egg until it forms a smooth mixture. It should be a thick batter so if need be, add more milk. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gently fold into the mixture.

In a hot buttered grill pan, drop two ladles of the mixture into a hot pan. Turn the heat down and wait until you begin to see the edges brown and little bubbles appear on the surface. Now flip over. Cook until golden both sides, put to one side in a heated oven until all the mixture is done.

Serve with fruit salad, Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Sit down, devour!

The best thing about these pancakes is, if you make too many, you can keep them and eat them the next day as snacks.

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Brighton Bank Holiday Trail Run

Finally, the weather is going to be gorgeous enough for a truly beautiful, vest top kind of run on the South Downs…

 

This Sunday, we’re going to be heading up to a beautiful part of the Downs that takes you through the beautiful village of Ovingdean, past the 11th century St Wulfran’s church before heading with Rottingdean to the east before dropping back down to the seafront. Here, those who prefer a shorter route can return along the Undercliff path for a five mile run. Others can choose to go with our coach and complete the full 7 miles, enjoying the views of the sea.

Open to all levels of runners as long as you can run the distance of five or seven miles. Book online for £10 or join the full season for £45. This is a beaut of a run in this weather.

Details of locations and meeting here.  Join our Brighton and Hove only Facebook group if you’re local.

Your coach is Helena. Meeting at Brigthon Asda Marina car park, far side by the ramp to go up to the road level.

South Downs Trail Run, Sunday 29th April

If you’ve been hibernating or pounding out the miles for marathon training, NOW is the time to get out and enjoy the beauty of the trails in early summer…

This week is the start of our Summer Trail Series in Brighton, £45 for the entire series which runs to the end of June or you can drop in per session to suit.

We have two distances, a shorter one for those who simply want to build their endurance and start running on trails but for fun, and a longer distance that will build week by week for those who are joining us in training for the Bewl 15, July 1st.

This week’s run meets at Ditchling Beacon for a beautiful run along the top of the ridge before heading down for a loop past a local farm and back to the return. The total distance on the start of this season is six miles but it is also open as a four mile route, with runners being able to turn and return on their own should they wish.

Get fit, meet new runners, explore new trails. It is the BEST time to be on the Downs.

For details of the full season, click here. To book visit our booking page and choose the full series or book per run. 

Plus don’t miss our once a month Running Adventures, starting in May. Details coming soon. If you’re not in our Brighton and Hove Facebook group, don’t forget to join. 

Have you got the marathon blues?

You’ve probably spent the last two weeks thinking, ‘I can’t wait for this marathon to be over,’ and the last few days basking in the sense of achievement at finishing it. But now, is the marathon comedown beginning to creep in….

 

It happens every year, you finish the marathon and feel fantastic and then suddenly, a few days, a week or even two weeks later,  you start feeling withdrawal symptoms before hitting a huge comedown.  All that training that you’d begun to hate suddenly doesn’t seem that bad, and the lack of training and that huge, big target that you had on the horizon is suddenly no longer there, leaving a big void.

Sound familiar?

Perhaps not, perhaps you’re one of the few well organised, experienced runners that have already set yourself a new goal in running, fitness, life or work before the end of your marathon training and knew what your next step would be. Well done you.

If not, what’s the best way to get over the marathon blues?

  1. Find your next running focus … but make sure it’s one that gives you enough time to rest, recover and then build your training again. One of the worst mistakes you can do is get bitten by the marathon bug and sign up for another one in a few weeks. You need to give your body – and mind- the time to recover. Nowadays, so many people are doing charity 10 marathons in 10 day kind of events, that it’s easy to forget that running 26.2 miles is a BIG DEAL, and it’s not easy to juggle the training and be kind to your body if you attempt to do multiples. Be sensible, assess how much time you have, set yourself a periodised plan where your body has the time to rest and build back up again. (if you would like to join us in training – virtually – or in person, we are going to be creating plans and training for both the Maverick Snowdonia 17km or 22km in September and the Bewl 15 miles, July 1st as our BIG community wide get togethers).
  2. Set yourself a fitness goal – training for a marathon may have revealed areas of weakness in your training that you could focus on. Maybe you want to set yourself a month-long core challenge? Perhaps you would like a four week programme of yoga to help your body recover? It’s easy to stick to what you know and do another running event, but ask yourself, what do you REALLY want to do? Don’t just run because that’s what you always do.  If the thought of going out running doesn’t fill you with joy, try something else for a month, conditioning, setting a swimming challenge, it could be anything. (our new virtual hub will be holding opt-in month long core and flexibility challenges that you can choose to participate in which can run alongside some fun running rather than racing if you fancy still having a goal to keep you on track without the pressure of a race).
  3. Spend time with your friends and family –  has your entire social life, other than running based events and training fallen off the cliff? Now you don’t have to train long miles at the weekend, not go out on Friday because you’ve got the long run, and spend the rest of the week recovering, you have time for all those other things. Go to galleries, go out for dinner, go hiking instead of running. After spending so long feeling like you were forcing yourself to get out there and train, you will probably find yourself finding it almost impossible to NOT go out and run. But having balance in your life is important, so set aside some time for other things so that you don’t end up burnt out.

If you want to join our Virtual Members Training Hub, we launch in May. It’s a paid per month membership, and we’ll have an exclusive 24 hour special offer window. To pre-register click here. (If you’ve already done so, there is no need to do so again).

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.