In some of my posts I have referred to “my running buddy”. We often do long distance training runs together, and sign up for many of the same races. In this post, I interview him about what it was like to compete in the 100k (62 mile) Race to the Stones, if only to prove that he really does exist, and isn’t some Tyler Durden style hallucination, although when it comes to running he is equally as bad-arse as the founder of fight club. (And yes, he has the same T-shirt as me but that doesn’t mean he is me – I’m far too lazy to run 100k.)
Why do you hate your feet so much?
Most runners have a love-hate relationship with their feet. They love what they can do for them, but they treat them with abuse. But not looking after your feet is like having a car you never bother to service. It will catch-up with you in the end.
(As background to this question, Running Buddy’s feet are covered in blisters and one is the size of two fifty pence pieces. He has also just informed me that he lost two of his toenails. We thought we would spare you the photos.)
Part of the reason that you have such large blisters was the rainfall early on in the race? We have now raced in extreme (for the UK anyway) heat and pouring rain? Which do you prefer?
The rain is better if you’re prepared for it but the heat just drains you! If you’re running a long way and there’s even the slightest chance of rain, you need to have a spare pair of dry socks with you. I think this is one of the areas in which our lack of ultra-running experience showed.
I ran the 50k version of Race to the Stones as this was my first attempt at such a long distance and I thought I would see how I handled that, but what you did could technically be described as running two ultra-marathons, back-to-back. What’s wrong with you?
How do I answer a question like that?
It’s like that part in the Barkley Marathon documentary when the guy says it’s not really a challenge unless there’s some chance that you might not finish, that you might, in fact, fail. You’ve got to test yourself in a way that’s relative to whatever level you’re at.
How did you feel when you left me at Basecamp*?
*Basecamp was at 51k and marked the finish of my run, but only the halfway point for Mr Buddy.
I felt good actually – ready to get some more miles in and not dwell on the fact that it was only halfway.
You keep saying you slowed me down but the split was actually eight hours for the first 50k and nine hours for the second.
What would be your advice to someone contemplating their first ultra?
Bring clean, spare socks and stuff your face continuously! Eat whatever you can get your hands on and in your stomach at each and every pit stop. And don’t leave eating until later on: after the ninth pit-stop, I saw a woman trying to eat and then just throwing up in a bush afterwards.
So you were trying to replenish all those calories so you wouldn’t hit a wall. How many calories did you burn overall?
According to my Garmin, it was well over 9000, nearer to 10,000.
The Race to the Stones follows an ancient English path. What were you favourite parts of the course?
All of it, the general scenery – I didn’t end up seeing many of the landmarks. The field of gold was good; everyone was fresh and enjoying it.
How many days do you think it will take you to get back to normal?
Actually, I’m contemplating going for a run tomorrow. (This was the Tuesday after the Saturday event.) The only restriction is the state of my feet at the moment.
Do you want to do the Ring O’ Fire in September?
For the last two days, I’ve been thinking, “I’ll never do another ultra again”, but now I’m thinking that 100 miles has to be the next target.
I will need to work out a way not to get horrible blisters though.
Do you have anything else to add?
Yeah, Race to the Stones was a great event, really well-organised, and the pit stops were amazing.
The atmosphere was great too. There was a real sense of camaraderie and no-one judging anyone else.