Race to the King is a 53 mile challenge from Slindon to Winchester and it’s only 5 weeks away !!!! On Saturday I mapped out virtually a marathon for us and more importantly our final 13 miles would mimic the 40 to 53 of RTTK. If you follow the link above it plays a short video that finishes around Winchester Cathedral and into its grounds. The final half marathon was what I wanted us to experience today. The photo above is Winchester with the rain falling but our spirits lifted after a great run 🙂
Paul and I had the pleasure of running with Del Roberts for the first time and part of the route with our friend Ros. Del is an experienced ultra runner and co founder of On the Whistle , a local running events company.
In our preparation for RTTK we use every run to try something new, for me today was suntan lotion and a cap 🙂 I’ve just got a feeling that June 24th will be a scorcher !!
As we ran out of Fareham from the train station it was interesting to hear more about Del’s running background and as we hadn’t seen Ros for a while it was good to catch up. Del talked about an interesting evening in June with the adventurer Ranulph Fiennes , so already he’d broadened our horizons.
The first 5 miles brought us to Wickham were the annual horse fair was starting to take shape so we skirted around it and joined the old railway line. By 7 miles it was time to wish Ros well as she was turning back and we pressed on, up the gradual incline, for another 5 miles. The changeable weather replaced our sunshine with dark menacing clouds but even at our steady pace we seemed to be out running the rain.
12 miles in and it was time for our scheduled pit stop at Meonstoke Village Store . This Aladins cave of treasures has numerous locally sourced offerings and if you live in the area it’s well worth popping into so as to support the local producers. Today we really only needed water but it came at just the right time, along with friendly service from the young lady behind the counter. Follow the link above to their website.
In many ways this was the real start of our run because we had some mles in our legs and we were joining the RTTK route. I’d avoided too many photos up to this point as I wanted to give other RTTK runners an insight into the last 13 miles !!
First up is Beacon hill that climbs out of Exton. It’s about 450 feet of elevation and is the last big test. However, saying that there’s quite a few undulations along the way.
Beacon Hill Lane gives way to the steeper White Way that Del and Paul are running here. Why do people run up great big hills I hear you say, well the answer is the view at the top. On this occasion it is Winchester Hill across the valley which is also part of RTTK.
Our trusty South Downs Way signs with the blue acorn point you on your way but at times can blend into the hedges once the wood is weathered, but that’s the point of a recce run 🙂
We continued on our way past farms and barns and Milbury pub. One point we’d all noticed was that the cyclists and walkers that came towards us all had jackets on so there was still the prospect of the black clouds catching us. What we hadn’t reckoned on was hail !! Yes, hail in May. Luckily we only saw it in the hedgerows and Pauls photo.
As we approached Cheeseford Head our mileage was now up to 20 and this was where we’d missed a left hand turn a couple of weeks ago. This gradual hilly section will be at about 47 ish miles on RTTK. We ran it today but I suspect it will need walking in June. The wide track changes to a narrow trail through the trees with lots of tree roots so beware “on the day”. This is also near the Boomtown festival site.
Emerging from the woods we crossed the A272 and after a few fields we were rewarded with our first sight of Winchester and Intec if you know the area. So with about 3 miles left the end was literally in sight.
You can’t beat a downhill section after 22 miles and even the light rain was refreshing. As we weaved our way down the hill and onto narrow county lanes we did have one pause for thought where there were two SDW signs but as Del pointed out one said riders and one walkers. The hedge line that we ran next to looked familiar from a run I did in the opposite direction a couple of years ago so we were closing in on the motorway bridge and Winchester city centre.
Yes, I took more photos than I realised but I think they’ll be useful for anyone who runs this, especially as a point of reference when you are tired. The motorway bridge had a rewarding sign that we just had to take a photo of ……………
All that was left was to find our way through the streets of Winchester, past the Black Boy pub, around Winchester college and the flint walls of the Cathedral (see the RTTK link and their video). Entering the Cathedral was actually quite emotional after 25.5 miles knowing that the next time we do this will be at the end of the race. Unknown to us Winchester’s Mayfest was today. This festival centres mainly around Morris Dancers, some traditional and some very colourful, however, we needed to sit down … ha ha !!
We’d had a great run and Del is now another member of the growing Thomason Tours club i.e. runners that have come on routes that I’ve planned 🙂 We had a well earned Starbucks coffee, made our way to the station and still had time for another train(ing)coffee to warm/ hydrate us.
The 27 minute ride on comfy seats was just what we needed and naturally talk was of future runs and races between Paul, Del and myself.
What about the other 0.7 miles to make the training run a marathon I hear you ask ?? Well I live 3/4’s of a mile from Fareham train station so I bagged my marathon before I got home. Thanks for reading and thanks to Ros, Del and Paul for the company / banter that is essential on long runs.
There maybe some video footage to follow so log in again in the coming days 🙂