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Hi, first post on this forum, first on any forum actually!!
Just signed up for this race. Having not done anything remotely like this before and having run 3 road marathons in the last year ( Brighton, Venice and London), I'm in full on road mode. So, really not sure where to begin with this, plenty of long/slow off- roading i suppose? Any help/advice much appreciated and good luck to everyone else.
I am not doing any specific training towards this, I shall continue my normal marathon training and hope to get round, the only thing I have changed is that I've entered The Ox ultra in 2 weeks which will give me my longest run to date and my first trail run of the year, I've done 3 road marathons this year already and will have done one further road marathon and another trail marathon before I hit RTTS. I'm not an ultra person at all and this is just something a little different to break up my calendar, but I haven't really had time to do anything specific for it.
I’m primarily a road runner, making the transition to trails for Race to the Stones. Just in case it’s useful, I thought I’d offer some beginner’s thoughts on what’s different, and in particular how I’d found the course. This will be old-hat to the experts I’m sure.
First the good news – the Ridgeway is beautiful, with some great vistas, pretty churches, interesting woods and so on, and I haven’t even made it to the ancient monuments yet. If you have the time to look up from the path, it’s great!
However, it is (at least for the first 30k I’ve done so far) much slower to run on than roads. My typical marathon pace is about 5:40 min/km or around 4 hours. On the trails, with roughly similar effort, I’ve been doing a little under 7:30. My ambition is to average 10 min/km on the day, for a total just under 17 hours. I can’t tell you if that’s realistic!
What slows you up (in some sections) are the rocks, roots, uphillls, downhills, and narrows. Certainly there are plenty of stretches where overtaking would be tricky. The course map can be misleading. For instance, there’s a stretch from mile 9 to mile 13 (add the elevation view to get distances) which looks straight and helpfully downhill. Actually it winds through a narrow strip of woodland, with lots of ups and downs!
I ran the first time in my regular trainers, but ended up with bruised feet. Trail shoes are a worthwhile investment. Plus, if you aren’t already, find some uneven terrain to practice on – I can tell it’s using different muscles.
It’s also hotter than I expected. Obviously last weekend was particularly warm, but when you run marathons, there’s usually a fair bit of shade available. The Ridgeway has long stretches (for instance, along the Thames) where it’s open and it’s just you and the sun. Sunblock and sun-visor recommended.
Oh, and a fair bit of the course is on Google Streetview - someone's been along it with 40 lbs of 360 degree cameras on their back!
I'm off to do the 25km west of Goring tomorrow. While it starts with a sharp climb, as best I can tell the path is better for this stretch. I'll report back.
Running Rodent, not sure where you're coming from, but are you aware that one of the Oxford/London bus lines stops off at Lewknor? (Though the bus stop is 2K is from the start)
I got my dad to drop me off at the Lewknor turn off last year, he was going to drive me to the field but the traffic was mental, I snagged a free ride on the shuttle bus but it got stuck in traffic along with everything else. I did still get there in time but I was freaking out! This year I'll set off earlier and either drive all the way to the field or just walk it.
Rob Kenny - fabulous post about the trail! I did the first half last year, did it all in regular trainers which was fine, I don't think trail shoes would've been any better although I did still end up with bashed up feet because of all the ruts.
When you're doing 100k I think it's a jog and walk strategy, so to anyone trying to calculate 100k off of a flat out marathon pace then I would throw all that out the window right now, you will finish when you finish, that is all you can predict! You'll need to stop at the aid stations to refill your bottles, get some snacks, go to the loo etc, you wouldn't do any of those things in a regular road marathon.
The very start of the race is a big bottle neck and of course there will be 100k-ers and 50k-ers, walker and runners and it's basically single file quite early on and for some time. There are other places where it's single file but equally there are places where you could run 20 abreast if you wanted to! I fell over in one of the forests, I am notoriously bad on trail, I expect i'll do it again this year as well at least once!
My big regret last year was not wearing gaiters, I most certainly will be this year. And I'll be taking it easy, last year I went in and tried to run it all (I only did 50k), I walked one hill out of an aid station and then I did jog-walk for portions of the last 2 miles. It was HARD!! It hurt! I would recommend leaving any idea of times at the start line and just run to how you feel, it's a hard track out there and it was very hot, don't underestimate how difficult it's going to be because that will really sap your enjoyment on the day.
Good to read some trail info - we are doing a first recce this weekend (Friday - Saturday actually) We aim to run walk and will try a 20min walk 10min run cycle once the field permits (which is probably after the first 10k's if I have read the notes right)
We are probably going to try and run in a "trail" shoes although that seems to be a fairly vague term. Salomons probably going to be our choice with the XA Pro being of interest. I have worked in them before and done some running in them and they were robust and comfortable. Comments welcome.
Hoping the weather is going to be reasonably okay. We were out on the Long Mynd last weekend and got caught out with the rain and ended up very cold.
Just a quick addition to my earlier post. I've now done the stretch between Goring and (roughly) Wantage. This is mostly very quick. The rise up from the Thames is much more gentle than the alarming elevation map makes it appear, and the surface is mostly very good - some ruts, but generally comfortable for running if you're so inclined. (Road shoes would be fine). Some great views, but exposed - this section will be hot if it's sunny on the day.
BTW, this section has the advantage that you can get to both ends by public transport. Goring station is very close to the trail, and the buses at Wantage are just a few km from it.
Mark must pay more attention to signs that I do I managed to go astray well before the A34 - but the Ordnance Survey app has been my saviour
Picking up on an earlier point: does anyone have any recommendations for gaiters? I didn't wear them for RTTS15 but did stop a few times to remove stones from my shoes. However I was just glad of the rest last year. I am hoping to do a little better and knock some time of this year (maybe spend less time eating carrot cake in the aid stations!).
Training wise I am 100km ahead of last years schedule. But I've dropped the delusional thought of doing the 100km in one go (that idea crashed and burned after my first 35km run this year).
I hope training is going well for the rest of you.
I've just signed up for this run, it will be my first attempt at anything like an Ultra event. Doing the two day event. Very excited. Already got the very hilly Jerusalem marathon under my belt this year and the extremely hot Hackney half-marathon so hoping that experience will help with this one.
I already run trails regularly, just interested in the footwear discussions on the thread. I'm a VFF runner and wondering if I'm going to be the only person in minimalist at the event...
Really looking forward to it though!
I have just ordered some of the Dirty Girl gaiters too. Saw them on a lady during the Shindig in the Shire event, she highly recommended them.
To all who did this event last year and experienced bad traffic into the field for the start, would you mind telling me what sort of time you were arriving so that I can plan accordingly?
I arrived an hour early but the queues to get into the field,collect my number, use the toilet etc meant I missed the start by a minute or two. So this year I will be planning on arriving 90 minutes before the start.
Thank you Paul.
Just to clarify, will you be getting there 90 mins before the start as opposed to registration? Is the farm far from the road? It doesn't look too bad on the map. I am presuming that they don't send out numbers etc if you have to register on the day? I don't like that as much as posting them out as it just adds to the stress!
runninginsunshine - you collect your number, chip and map from the registration tent at the start. It was well organised last year and got through that part quickly. The entrance to the farm and start is a bit mental, the road was very busy so getting to the start earlier is advised. I'll be doing the same this year.
Map?? Omg....... remind me why I signed up for this!
Thank you Chesher.
Unless you are really quick you won't need a map because there are so many people to follow!
I will plan to arrive 90 minutes before the start time. It's getting into the venue that takes the most time.
You need photo ID I think to collect your race number.
You signed up because this is the best race you will do all year/ever.
Unless its raining. Then it will be a miserable slog.
I will be at the back haha! I shouldn't be on this forum really as I am only a walker - for this event anyhow (will run the odd few miles) I am in awe of the 'proper' runners! Very excited though yes and praying for good weather otherwise it will be a bit grim as so exposed. Still the pitstops sound great!
Thank you for the tips Paul, they are invaluable
I didn't have an issue with directions last year, but then again that's because I was so far at the back, there was always someone to follow. I only found one tricky point as I ran through Goring over the the river. It's the only part I can recall being on roads rather than offroad. Then again, I may have just blocked out huge sections while I was lost in my head trying not to think about my legs....
Anyone coming from London? Not sure whether to take the Oxford tube bus (and which time one to get?) or whether to just get the train to Princes Risborough and then taxi. What are others doing?
Checking in as my wife and I are doing this. Not done enough running and the race is way further than either of us have run before. We ran the first 20 miles a few weeks ago and the route is really great. Fingers crossed for good weather.