Race to the Stones Report by Tess Evans

Racing to the stones – Avebury that is, not to some gig somewhere.

Ok, its an ultra of sorts, an ultra with options. I had been looking at this event for some time, picking it up and putting it down like some kind of ornament I had no use for. I had my reasons for dithering, these were significant, so when Colin, whilst walking his dog said he didn’t know what sock to wear for this event he signed up to, I decided.

It wasn’t about the socks, or even Colin. It was about getting back on the event waggon.

After running my first and very enjoyable marathon in October; I hadn’t been my usual active self. Maybe I needed to recover longer than I did. Possibly, it is said you need to have more of a break than you think, but not stop completely. Well, I didn’t quite do that.

I had a few medical issues and health scare which slowed me down, likely at the point I should have picked up. I fully understand what it is like to wait for a diagnosis, mulling over uncertainty and possibilities. In the end I decided to keep busy, I called the problem ‘Jeff’, as anything would be an assumption which could embody misdirected fears; I went on holiday and did a few nice things I wanted to do. Jeff is still with me as a passenger and is not too disruptive, although a concern. I wont bore people with the detail, but learning you have a benign tumour in your lung doesn’t relieve you, or excite you. Just exhale (metaphorically, because actually it effects breathing) that ‘it could be worse’.

So. I’m doing this event and others to push against Jeff. Unwanted passenger who seems harmless who might get me in the future. I should currently be struggling to breathe going up stairs, but I’m not. Why – because I have been active most of my life, and I’m little. Fortunate still.

Enough about me and why.

The event – a well organised machine, very accessible to all abilities. Weather for some was good, a little on the warm side for me.  We had more snacks available than was sensible, drink possibilities that were endless, and; So. Many. Stops.

Colin valiantly declared he would follow me as he had not done something like this before (I don’t remember being a) an expert, b) er, likewise?). Never mind. I hope he understands how I operate…

An hour into the event walk/ jogging to get out the way of people and chatting – I realised that it would have been better to do the whole thing in one go, especially as I was talking to walkers who were saying my pace was good walking speed and they were going to go through the night. Haha.

Lesson no 6. This is a different race to other events, and it will be down to technique as well as endurance and speed.

Lesson no 7. No matter how bright your t-shirt is, some t*@* will step on you.

Lesson no 8. The food at the stations is free to help yourself, but don’t eat 4 times as much, or you’ll look like that person who is shamelessly building another camel hump.

Lesson no 9. This might be a trail path, but the sun has packed it hard like concrete, trail shoes not needed (ouch!)

Lesson no 10. Feet swell, they keep swelling and want to escape the shoe.

Lesson no 10b. running uphill is better for you and was easier (tiny hills)

Lesson no 11. Ibrobufen gel is a mistake. My hand was numb from applying it, but it didn’t help with issue I had, haha.

Lesson no 12. This is a tough event, but you need to suit yourself; being polite to someone will fail for the 5th time they want a nice cup of tea and a sit down, and you are in agony.

Lesson 13. You have to physically do this event, but unless you tell yourself you can, you won’t. Psychology against yourself is a mean battle.

Lesson 14. It was a great event, well organised, beautiful timing, beautiful route; I have another chapter in my physical achievements.

Lesson 15. How can anyone wear flipflops after an event like that?

Thanks to Colin for the company, the lift and the distraction. I hope you understand that you are a better athlete than you think, because you are competitive, although stamina is your enemy.

Lesson 16. Do it once, you can then decide to regret it, or realise what you really can do.