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From unfit to unstoppable: How Karen Stack conquered the Race to the King 2018

The finish line of Race to the King

Just under two years ago I was overweight and very unfit. So I started with Couch to 5K and a year later I met Kerry. I mentioned that I was thinking about doing Race to The King over two days and what did she think. By this stage I was much lighter and slightly fitter and she thought it would be good to have a challenge!! For the next 6 months I followed the RTTK’s training programme. So that’s how I managed to be on the start line in Sussex at 8.15 on a very sunny, hot Saturday morning in June.

The first day was ‘only’ 23 miles. The scenery was lovely and we were running on chalk and flint tracks with a few hills thrown in for good measure. The ground was so hard there was no need for my trail shoes. The kilometres ticked by. After my first text to Kerry with timing etc I received the reply – “are you comfortable with that pace?” which I read to mean ‘you are going too fast’ so it was duly noted. Other runners were very friendly and it was no problem running without a friend. After 4 hrs 39 minutes I arrived at the campsite. We were all allocated a tent and a self inflating roll mat and I quickly found my kit which had been delivered. The food at all the pit stops had been good and the camp was no different. There was lots of hot food and cold drinks and a bar. My first stop was the shower and the free sports massage. I then spent the rest of the evening sitting chatting to other runners.

Morning came round quickly and as the weather was so hot the organisers allowed us to leave earlier than planned. So I was off after porridge at 5.41. I ran by myself for about 40 mins and then I met John who was to be my running partner for the rest of the day. We were both the same age and neither of us had actually run further than the 17 miles back to back sessions in the training programme. So we were very pleased when we hit 42.2km that day to be able to say we could now be described as marathon runners and we just had to keep on going for a bit longer and then we could be re-named ultra marathon runners (albeit not very fast ones in either category.) Kerry sent motivational messages throughout the day, which were great to receive, and which kept us both going. Winchester Cathedral (the finish) was quite visible from a far distance but it did seem to keep moving and was an elusive target for quite a considerable amount of time

I arrived at Winchester Cathedral in 11:12:32. I was quite tired but relieved to have completed the Race to The King.

Looking back was it fun and did I enjoy it? – yes I did. I even enjoyed the training but maybe not all the hills, Kerry! What did I learn?

  • The training plan works but can be jiggled around to fit your schedule even if that means you have to do two 17milers after two full days of work.

  • The back to back runs are vital as it is harder to start the second day rather than the first

  • Soft bottles are quicker to fill than bladders

  • Plan your food so you don’t ever get to the stage where you are hungry as that’s when I believe doubts begin to creep in to your mind.

  • Practice wearing the exact kit you are wearing for the race even if you feel over-dressed running through Bath in a race vest

In fact I enjoyed it so much, that I am planning to do the Imber 30 in March and am waiting for next year’s RTTK registration to open but this time it’s for 53 miles straight through! (I hope……)

Karen Stack


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