I did it – I finished the Race to the Tower 52 Mile Ultra Marathon on the 9th June 2018!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me through my 3 challenges in support of Mind Charity – together we smashed my fundraising target! Since March I completed the Chester 52 mile Ultra marathon, the Welsh Trail Half marathon, and last week the Race to the Tower 52 mile Ultra marathon in the Cotswolds. There is still time to sponsor me in support of Mind – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EdwardWallington
My primary reason for running was to help raise funds for Mind and to raise awareness of the benefits of health and fitness on mental health. Exercise, particularly coupled with spending time outdoors, is a key ingredient to help our mental state. The benefit of running, and particularly long distance running, allows us to ‘tune out’ from our everyday pressures and focus on one thing – moving forward – whilst enjoying the view and change of scenery.
I thought a short canter through the rolling hills of the Costwolds would be a great challenge, and so entered the Race to the Tower Ultra – a 52 mile route from Stroud to Broadway Tower. The route was described as travelling ‘through quaint traditional villages and medieval burial grounds, you’ll finish at the magnificent Broadway Tower, home to one of the best views in the country’. This description is true, it was a great route… unless you are attempting to run non-stop on a day with temperatures of 25 Celsius. Oh, and the lovely rolling hills – don’t exist – they are near vertical ascents and descents… and are endless! The organisers ended up calling the day ‘Brutal’… I can testify to that.
All was going well for the first 10 miles, then by knee decided to no longer play games on a long downhill. This resulted in the next 20 miles of shooting pains and agony. The hour before mile 30 I reached rock bottom – the runners low… and I had it bad. My mind had gone, and the will to continue had gone, this was no longer fun, far from it. I reached the 30 mile checkpoint determined to pull out. A good talking to from the Medic (Kaz) turned me around and convinced me to continue. I am glad I did, and I will be ever thankful to Kaz. Without her intervention I would have been on a bus to the finish and kicking myself for pulling out.
I finished the run at 1am and was ecstatic to reach Broadway Tower which was lit up green – a very welcome sight! Even at that time of day there was a crowd cheering us runners home. My experience of the highs and lows of this ultra, particularly the mental mind games I went through, further justify my efforts to raise awareness for Mind.