Race to the Stones - Maggie's Musings
More is in you
My 65th birthday was approaching and I was feeling grateful that I have so far retained my health and an unusual level of fitness. How to mark it? I found an event that took place on the two days before my birthday and it all fell into place. I would use the challenge to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, which has helped my friends John and Kelly to change their lives. Perfect!
‘More is in you’ – the motto of the organisers of Race to the Stones is inspiring and true. Taking on such a challenge enables us to discover just what we can do as we push ourselves to try and find our physical and mental limits.
I was unsure how prepared I was for this massive challenge and relied upon cross training. I have completed two one-day ultramarathons before (two and three years ago), but my longest runs this year were two 15 miles and one marathon distance with some friends. The rest of my training was road cycling, with the week before the event spent climbing mountains in Bulgaria!
I was spurred on by knowing that I had promised to do my best to raise funds for Blind Veterans UK, and that a recipient of their help (my friend John) would be waiting at the finish for me.Maggie Lewis
Pushing through the pain
As I waited at the start on a lovely sunny morning, I felt excited. Although I had no idea what the two days would bring, and which of the huge range of outcomes I had imagined would be correct, I was happy to begin the adventure.
As planned, I ran or walked as the terrain dictated - walking all the uphill sections. At the end of the first day I was feeling pretty bad; muscular pain in my hip was making walking difficult, and I was so tired I couldn't hold a proper conversation until I had showered and eaten! I felt no euphoria at completing the longest distance of my life, and wondered if I would be able to continue.
The facilities at the overnight camp were amazing, they thought of everything. After a few hours restless sleep, Sunday dawned a new day. I got up at 4:30am as the camp began to stir and found I could walk much better as I went in search of a cup of tea and breakfast. With my feet taped to prevent blisters, I set off about an hour later at a steady walk.
As my muscles warmed up I found I was comfortable jogging, and the pattern of the day became running wherever it was flat, downhill and smooth under foot, and walking everything else. Close to the end, when I could see the finish about three miles away across fields, I felt a sharp pain in my toe. There was nothing I could do except grit my teeth and carry on. The pain subsided and I was able to run across the finish line with a big smile on my face!
I came fourth out of 20 FV60 entrants in the two-day event! Nowhere near the winners of the category, but still feeling proud.
A week after completing the Race to the Stones, a double ultra-marathon of 100k, I am still disbelieving that I got to the end, let alone that I have no significant ill-effects. (In the ‘ultra’ world, losing a toenail is normal!) So have I found my limits? Or is there ‘more in me’…?
The best part of this kind of event is the wonderful camaraderie of participants. Everyone is friendly, chatty and helpful. And the event staff (volunteers) are stars! At one of the pit stops they gathered everyone round to sing “Happy Birthday” to me. The support of all those involved is what allows people to achieve more than they believe possible.
It was emotional being welcomed at the end by my husband, and John and his wife (whose birthday it was).Maggie Lewis
My 65th birthday was the following day, and I was thoroughly spoiled and received many hugs and congratulations from my friends over a few celebratory drinks.
An awesome way to mark a milestone birthday!
Fundraise for Blind Veterans UK through a challenge event, like Maggie, or host your own brew up, fry up or dress up event with family and friends or colleagues. You don’t have to be close friends with our veterans to show your support for them.
Volunteer with Blind Veterans UK and feel just as appreciated as Maggie was of the volunteers during her challenge. If event volunteering isn’t your thing, we have plenty of opportunities in the community where you can directly benefit the life of one of our blind veterans.