An epic challenge

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two shadows

I’ve spent the last month helping to prepare for Team GC’s second ultra-marathon challenge – one of the largest in the UK called Race to the Stones and sponsored by Dixons Carphone. It’s 100km, 62 miles, or for anyone who can’t wrap their head around that it’s a marathon, another marathon and a further 10k…

The route snakes along the historic Ridgeway path. The size of the team had practically doubled since last year, with almost 250 participants taking part. Some people came all the way from Czech Republic to take part!

As 11th July dawned, GC HQ was crammed with water pistols, sweets, sleeping bags, clappers, speakers and space-hoppers; everything we would need to cheer Team GC on through their incredible challenge.
We were relying on our runners not only to train long and hard for the event, but also to raise vital funds that will help us to keep doing what we do. Our presence at RTTS was our opportunity to show them our thanks and give them our congratulations.

With a 4am wakeup call we headed to the start line, and after some much needed sausage rolls we got down to registering the team – a sea of yellow t-shirt as far as the eye could see! Most people showed a mixture of quiet confidence and abject terror…

Race to the Stones pit stopAfter watching the long stripe of figures disappear into the treeline, we packed up and headed off to begin a weekend full of cheering. There was a pit stop every 10K so people could refuel, and at ours we sprayed runners with water to keep cool, we played great tunes to keep them going (Proclaimers anybody?) and we did our best to keep everyone positive.

My biggest memory from the weekend is of fun (followed by opportunistic naps) and I hope that we were able to share that with the participants we saw. I was constantly amazed by everyone’s perseverance, when so many hadn’t ever attempted this kind of thing before! Some chose to split the route across two days, and when they reached basecamp they were already exhausted. But their exhaustion then was matched by determination the following morning – they ran, walked and crawled their way to the finish on day two in torrential, pouring rain.

I had some fantastic conversations – I particularly remember hearing about a runner’s previous experiences with early onset trench foot, talking to a Swiss woman who had travelled all the way from the continent to cheer on her daughter in her third Ultra, and learning from my GC colleagues about structures of fundraising and event planning.

I might not be running one of these any time soon, but I certainly hope it won’t be the last time I’m a part of such an inspirational charity event.

If you’ve not had a chance to donate yet, our donations page if you’d like to help us exceed our goal and create more volunteering opportunities across the UK.

This post was originally part of the Get Connected website. YouthNet and Get Connected merged to form The Mix in 2016.


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Published on 17-Jul-2015