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Race overview, Race to the Tower 2022 ~ Helen Farr

What a brilliant weekend! Day 1 felt very hilly indeed with lots of rolling hills from the start, and my legs just didn't feel as fresh as I would have liked. Fuelling went well, with plenty of Tailwind (I think 5x500ml) along with water, some sweets and dates I was carrying and watermelon and crisps from the aid stations - some of the best aid stations out there. While the uphills were steep it was some of the very steep downhills that hurt the most! I was very glad to reach basecamp 26 miles in and be done for the day, and watching other people come in and get themselves ready to go back out for another marathon was very inspiring. I didn't feel like food but had made sure I had recovery shake powder handy so I could have that very soon after finishing. A surprisingly good hot shower to warm up (I always get chilly after finishing), and then spent the afternoon alternating lying in my tent with pottering slowly about the campsite getting more food, drinks, having a bit of a stretch, and of course chatting with other participants. We regrouped at the finish line at around 9.30 to cheer in the last finisher for the day, and then the campsite quietened down as we all disappeared off to our tents.

Not a particularly great night's sleep as the tent was flapping about in the breeze and even with ear plugs I found it hard to tune out. I was glad when it was time to get up and get going again but the nerves were back and I couldn't face breakfast. I knew I needed something so grabbed a banana and headed for the start - hoping that once I started the butterflies would pass and I'd be able to eat again. Sure enough, on the first hill, I walked and ate my banana. Got chatting to three wonderful ladies nearby going at a similar pace - two of them I ended up running with the rest of the day. My legs were feeling surprisingly good - so much fresher than the day before! Early on I could have maybe gone a little faster but held back, partly being conservative and not wanting to crash later, partly knowing that being in company was going to make it easier. Their company definitely helped later on to keep me running (except for the steep uphills, we walked those).

The day passed surprisingly quickly - we were so enjoying ourselves we missed a turn and had to go back, adding an extra nearly 1.5 miles and making the day 45 km rather than a marathon. The last 5 miles from the final pitstop were fairly flat (except, of course, for the last, endless hill up to Broadway Tower) and on these flat, runnable trails I tripped and broke my little finger! I was close enough to the finish line that the adrenaline carried me through. So we carried on, through Broadway and then up, up, up the hill. We knew the finish was close but kept being told different distances: half a mile, then a mile then still a mile, but eventually we were at the top of the hill and across the line!

I was on such a high that I felt as though I could have carried on running... but not by the time I'd sat in the car for an hour. Getting into the house and upstairs for a shower was challenging and the stairs nearly defeated me on the way back down!


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