Hace 5 meses, se celebro la primera edición de esta prueba que pasa por uno de los caminos con mas leyenda e historia del Reino Unido. La Race to the Stones, me llamo la atención por su cercanía a Londres, para una de mis escapadas familiares ultrero-turísticas, y por las peculiaridades del Ridgeway Trail que recorre 100 km hasta morir en el circulo de piedras celta de Avenbury, cercano al mítico Stonehenge.
El camino mas viejo de Inglaterra fue recorrido durante 5.000 años por varias civilizaciones y pueblos, originalmente formaba parte de un antiguo camino que iba desde la costa este en Dorset hasta Wash en Norfolk. Sajones, vikingos ,pastores, utilizaron esta vía para evitar las zonas bajas de los valles, oscuras y peligrosas cubiertas de vegetación boscosa.
El recorrido de la prueba toma parte de este sendero y cruza el Tamesis y la llanura de Salisbury para ir a morir en Avebury. La carrera se inicia en Oxfordshire, y toma dirección suroeste, siempre por caminos bien marcados y salpicados de símbolos y puntos de referencia iconicos, como fortalezas celtas de la Edad de Hierro, o símbolos grabados en las montañas, como el caballo blanco de Uffington o la zanja de Grim.
Race to the Stones parece ser por el perfil y tipo de firme una prueba del gusto de los muy corredores, pudiendo eleguir entre hacer 2 etapas de 50 km o non-stop 100km, solo o equipos. Una carrera con muy poco desnivel, que no pasa de los 300 m d altitud con un D+ de 1.250m aprox. para 100 km.
Clara Halket, corredora nacida en Singapur pero residente en Londres, nos invita a conocer un poco mas esta prueba a través de su propia experiencia hasta los 50 km, donde ella decidió abandonar por el calor y esperar a 2014 para acabar los 100 km.
Race to the Stones 13-14 july 2013:
I have always been fascinated by the legendary Ridgeway, recognised as the oldest pathway in the UK, and walked a small section of it last year with friends. There is an annual challenge event to walk/run the whole length of the 82 miles, however due to the requirement for self-navigation I don’t see myself in the position to do it in the foreseeable future. You see, I am a very hopeless orienteer.
So it was when I discovered a new event taking place on the Ridgeway that would be fully marked, I entered without even a second thought! Race to the Stones covers 1000 km (62.14 miles) of the Ridgeway from Chinnor in Oxfordshire to Avebury in Somerset. There were several options for participants: non-stop 100km, 100km with a night stop, or 1-day 50km. I opted for the non-stop 100km, my first in this distance.
Even though I live just an hour’s drive from the start point, I chose to drive to the finish point and take the coach to the start so that when I finished, whatever time that would be, I could make my way home without having to depend on the coach schedule. The coach journey to the start took almost an hour but we were there in good time to register and get our bibs and instruction packs. The registration was well organised and information provided comprehensive.
The weather forecast was that it was going to be the hottest weekend of the year so far, and it was already warm by the time we started at 08:00. The route is generally on well drained chalk with a mix of single tracks and wider paths, and almost entirely off-road.
The first section of the route was softer underfoot from Chinnor to Goring over the rolling hills of the Chilterns. Pitstops were spaced between 5-8 miles apart. The first at the 6-mile mark was positioned a little off the route resulting in some 300m diversion, which on a hot day was not particularly welcomed. I would have carried on without stopping if not for escorting a fellow runner to have her blisters attended to. At this point a couple of participants were ready to drop out due to the heat. The next few stops though were right just on the side of the route, and at each stop there were drinks and various nibbles.
As we progressed along the route, we passed beautiful rapeseed fields and welcomed shaded woods by the River Thames. The talk at each pitstop seemed to be about the heat. More and more runners dropped out due to the heat as the day progressed. By about the 40km mark I was starting to see ‘doubles’ and I knew I was starting to suffer the consequences of the heat despite taking in gallons of water, and that I would have to drop out very shortly if I didn’t want to suffer full blown heat stroke. I inched my way towards the 50km finish line, which was also the basecamp for the overnighters. The last few kilometres to the basecamp wasn’t particularly interesting especially given the state I was in. It seemed to me that section was barren and dry with steam coming off the ground!
I was most relieved when I crossed the 50km finish line. Someone poured cold water over my head and drenched my clothes but I didn’t care. It was most welcomed! After taking in more water and an energy bar I rested in the shades while waiting to be driven to the 100km finish line where I’d parked my car. I found that there were several others in the same position as me waiting for the transport and we shared our experiences of the day with each other. One thing we knew for sure was that we would be back to redeem our ‘failure’ to complete the whole journey next time.