On Saturday 8th June 2019 I ran the Race to the Tower ultra marathon on behalf of Help for Heroes. One of a series of ultras hosted by the team at Threshold, the 52 mile route meanders through the stunning landscape and picturesque villages of the Cotswolds.
What can I say… wow! It is a very enjoyable but challenging route. The Cotswold hills are not as rolling as they first appear, and some long uphill sections did test whether I had done enough training, or had the willpower to keep going forwards. I am not complaining, I love this route, and I relished the challenge! It doesn’t matter how fast you go (I am unlikely to ever be near the top athletes!), more about enjoying the day and well earned views.
I have run a handful of Ultras now and relish the idea of a day in the countryside, a complete change to my largely office based job. There is a different feel to road races, where speed and time is of the essence. Trail races are more about having fun in the outdoors, seeing where the course takes you, and having a good chat on the way with other runners. It is a great way to meet like minded people and make new friends who share your passion.
Photo courtesy of Help for Heroes
Running on behalf of Help for Heroes is my little way of supporting those who support and safeguard us by what they do. This is another key aspect to Race to the Tower and other trail races, the ability to raise sponsorship for well deserved charities. Help for Heroes were great in the run up to the big day, with fundraising hint and tips, regular updates and a running top to show our support. And seeing the tea, at the 30mile checkpoint certainly helps boost spirits at just the right time!
As with many trail ultra marathons the level of organisation is amazing, along with way marked routes, excellent food stations, and unwavering support form the checkpoint staff and supporters – we are all in it together. Everyone you walk or run with is happy to have a chat, to share why they are running, hints and tips, and to help pass the time.
I would fully support undertaking this challenge, especially for Help for Heroes. It is a very enjoyable and rewarding day, and the challenge pales into insignificance compared to the heroes we are running for.