Race to the King 2016 - Where it all began...
Updated: Jan 14, 2022
By the start of Summer 2016 I felt as if I needed to set myself a decent challenge as see how far I could push myself. Luckily for me and via the power of social media an advert kept popping up on my Facebook for a Trail Ultramarathon that offered UTMB points. I've always considered myself quite fit but by no means a long distance runner, so I thought this would would be a decent event to do.
I duly notified my parents that I was planning on running an Ultra and that I could do with a lift to get me to the start and to cart me home once finished. Luckily my parents have always been supportive of my harebrained ideas and what I condor to be fun although they did question my sanity about wanting to run 50miles in a day they did not say no. That was that and I signed up for the inaugural Race to the King, a 50ish mile Ultra from Arundel to Winchester.
Back in 2016 the majority of my run training was very basic to say the least, I'd probably only run twice during the week, 1 easy run of 3-5 miles and a longer run of around 6-7 miles with the odd bimble in the Brecon Beacons up to around 15 miles. These were pre-Strava times for me and looking back my weekly milage would rarely come close to 25 miles - All good prep for my first Ultra.
We decided to travel down the night before as the drive from home would be over three hours and I didn't really fancy getting up at 4am just to go for a long run... (that would change in time).
Arriving at the event in plenty of time for registration (no real kit check) and more than on nervous wee and we were off. Being my first race since running the Bath Half Marathon in 2010, I had no idea how to pace such an event and just ran off way harder than I should. This pace could and would not last, the worst thing I did was try and 'race' with the people around me. I pushed harder than I should have in the first half and knew I should probably ease off even though I did see a pink gorilla came cruising passed me.
The plan was for my parents to meet me at the half way point, but they were late and there was no phone signal to contact them so I sat down to try and eat some soup from the feed station. The soup was too hot and my stomach was not in any mood for food, so I just sat down for a while and watched the runners who were running over two days start to relax and settle into their tents for the rest of the day. Threshold give people the option of running/walking the event in one or over 2 days with tented accommodation all set up by the event team.
Thinking I better get moving or else I would try and jump into one of the tents myself I started the walk out of the halfway point and back towards the course when I happened upon my parents who had just managed to park up. A quick chat and restock of my energy gels and I was finally back out and running towards the finish. The second half did consist of far more walking than the first half, my energy was draining as I was not that used to fueling properly, my compression socks were up since I felt the onset of cramp a few miles before half way, but I was still enjoying my time out there.
The course itself was hard pack trails most of the way and quite scenic, but the highlight for me was running into Winchester and finishing at the doors of the Cathedral.
What must be said is that Threshold put on a very good event with well stocked checkpoints every 6-8 miles with amazingly friendly volunteers that all along the way. Their events are not cheap but I felt as if I was getting my moneys worth due to the support provided along, the support via newsletters leading up to the events and the route itself.
First Ultra in the bag and I was hooked (well a few days later after I had recovered) and I was already looking at nest years event and how to collect more UTMB points.
Key kits and bits
Trainers: Salomon Speedcross 3
Watch: Garmin Fenix 3
Pack: Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0
T-shirt: 5.11 RECON Performance
Shorts: Salomon S/Lab Sense
Socks: CEP run sock 2.0
Cap: Inov8 Race Ultra Running Peak Running Cap
Nutrition (carried by me)
SIS - Electrolyte tablets