Race to the King 2019
Please note when you read this that I’m not a racer, my aim here was to have a great time whilst enjoying the South Downs way. And that I really did, Race to the King 2019 was a great race.
But it was also a fair bit hard work.
I was a bit nervous when my wife drove me to the start of the 2019 Race to the King. The last months before the race my training had not gone according to plan, at all, including me not being able run at all the 3 weeks before the race. I was not in as good shape as I wanted.
But I still felt good so decided to go ahead.
Despite the bad build up, when we arrived at the start it was the best feeling ever. The weather was perfect. My body felt great, my mind was in a good place and I had my family next to me. I had wanted to do this race for so long and it was amazing to finally be there. All I had to do now was to get my good luck hugs from my wife and son, double check my equipment and wait for the race to start.
The start sound came, and at 7:55 on we were off. The sun was shining, the temperature was nice with a little breeze on top. The first thing I noticed was that for the first time in 3 weeks I felt great. Despite the bad weeks leading up to the race, on the day, when it mattered, I was back in the game and felt better than ever. Already after a few steps I knew that I was going to finish the race. Any doubt I had just disappeared, my mind was set.
I normally never feel like that, but I must say that it was quite calming that my brain made that decision. I knew it would be hard, but it was nice to not worry about it.
It was so nice when the start went, after all that training and anticipation, the feeling of finally be on my way was amazing.
The first 2 miles of the race is a bit crowded, the path is quite narrow and there is for obvious reasons a lot of people around. It’s hard to set your own rhythm here and you are more or less forced to run the same speed as everyone else. The first climb starts after about 1 mile and then around mile 2 the path opens up a bit and it’s easier to run in your own pace. The climb ends after about 3 miles when it’s time to go down again.
( It was about here that I realised quite that I had forgot to cut my toenails. It was slightly painful, but apart from that I felt great.)
Mile 3-5 is a long gentle decline. Here I just let my legs gently move helped by gravity, nice and easy. This bit is probably the easiest running of the whole race. There is a little bit of uphill between mile 5-6 but the good news here is that you are very close to the Madehurst roundabout.
The Madehurst roundabout is a great place for your support to come and cheer you on. It’s 10 minutes by car from the start, have plenty of parking and the race is only about 50m from the parking. It was really nice to see my family here and their cheers gave me a real boost. Due to the number of participants and the lack of parking spaces around the South Downs way we had spent a lot of time to trying to find good places to meet, and it was quite nice to see them so early on.
After a bit more uphill at around mile 6 we were finally on the South downs’ way. The path that would be our home for the upcoming 46 miles. Mile 6-7 is beautiful but also quite annoying, it’s a chalky tractor path that is either very slippery or rock hard depending on weather. I found it hard find a good line to run plus constantly having to watch where I put my feet.
Here is also the first steep hill of the race. It’s a steep climb that is about 2/3 of a mile and I walked it. No need to waste energy on running up this steep hill so early in the race. I had borrowed a pair of running poles and they were really nice to use here. You don’t need poles for Race to the king, 99% of participants don’t use them. They make an annoying noise on hard surfaces, but they make every climb so much easier and faster. If you have a pair of poles and know how to use them, bring them, they will help. I was glad I bought a pair.
Once you reach the top just take a few second and look around. From here you can see all the way from Brighton to Isle of Wight. But best of all, you can see pitstop 1 at the bottom of the hill less than a mile away.
Pitstop one is a bit special to me. I often start my training runs from here and this is also the pitstop I was a volunteer at 2018 (since I could not run it I decided to help out). Felt so good to finally be here as a participant.
The Race to the Kings pitstop are not just good, they are Amazing. They are all slightly different, but they are all like small convenient stores or Café’s. Since I knew I was not as fit as I had planned to be, I had planned to stay at each pit stop for some time. Just to rest and get some fluids, fill my bottles and some energy into the system and to give my watch and phone a quick charge from my battery pack. I decided there to run on one bottle of flat coke and one bottle of either water or electrolytes. I stayed on that all setup all the way to Winchester and it worked really well for me. I also made sure to eat something salty at all the aid stations I visited.
The organisers had let us know in advance some of the snack and sports drink brands that sponsor the race. This made it very easy to buy the same sports drink and bars that is used in the race and get your body used to those brands in training before the race. I think this contributed a lot to me not having any stomach issues during the whole race.
Pitstop 1 is at the end of a quite steep and narrow single lane road, and the pitstop will take up at least half of the parking so it’s not a good place for supporters and crew as they might not get here of if they do, they might not get out. So, I told my supporting family to avoid it.
Better to do the Madehurst roundabout and pitstop 2.
In the end I staid a bit longer than planned here but eventually I left to make my way to pitstop 2 .
The first bit after Pitstop 1 is quite beautiful easy running and it was really enjoyable to run this bit. After about mile 9 there is a steep downhill that goes on for about a mile. Very nice and enjoyable.
But what goes down must go up, and after the nice downhill at around mile 10 it was time for the long slow hill leading up on Littleton Down. It’s quite exposed and can be quite muddy. Luckily it was not very muddy on this day but this hill can be deceiving, it does not look as hard as it is. My race plan was to walk all major hills and this hill was no exception. Even though I felt good and have run up this hill before, I stuck to my plan and walked.
Once at the top we got a lovely view of Sussex/Surrey and after that there were 4 miles of easy straight forward running. Mile 11 to 14 is mainly a flat(ish) varied woodland path. And the last mile between mile 14 and mile 15 is just a nice slow decent. Here I felt absolutely amazing and was totally in the zone and I loved every step.
When I arrived at pitstop 2 (15 miles) I was ahead of time.
This pitstop welcomed supporters and here I met up with my family again.
Pitstop 2 was a bit more foody than pitstop one. Here I ate probably about ton of watermelon which felt like the most amazing thing I had ever eaten. Not sure where the watermelon cravings came from, but they started here and stayed with me for the rest of the race. Decided that I really liked the food here and thought that since I felt good and I had a long way to go that this would be a good place to fuel up a bit extra.
After a while my wife kindly suggested that if I wanted to finish on the time, I had planned the race I probably should start running again. She’s a wise woman and when I looked at the time it turned out that I had been at this pitstop much longer than I thought. So, I had some more watermelon, had a drink, took some salt, filled my bottles and off I went again.
Pitstop 2 was in my opinion the best of the race.
I left pitstop 2, took my poles out and started to ascend the fairly long hill to Cocking Down to then continue the climb slowly up to Linch Down. I have practiced this hill a few times, so I knew that it was going to be long, but I was still in a fairly good mood.
The first thing I noticed was that the wind had stopped, and the lovely breeze was gone.
By now the sun was higher up and when the wind stopped, the heat became very apparent.
I can run in winds, snow and rain, but I cannot run in heat. My body just can’t handle it. So naturally I started to get a bit nervous and worried how it would affect my race.
Wisely enough I had bought a legionaries hat a few days before. Admittedly it made me look a bit silly, but as soon as the sun came out it was worth its weight in gold.
The hill up Cocking down is quite long, and it’s very open to the elements, from pitstop 2 there is about 2 miles before there is any shadow or protection from the elements. And this day it was hot, really hot. On top of all this my toenails started to hurt more and more. From being a small nuisance, my toes now hurt in every step, it was not very nice.
Eventually I reach the woods and was finally protected by the sun, I was a bit tired but since I had only covered about 18 miles at this point I knew that I would just have to get over that feeling and keep going. From here it’s quite nice running for about a mile with a slight downhill angle as you run around a hill called Tryford Hill. At around mile 19 the path becomes quite uneven and really steep downhill, probably the second steepest downhill of the race.
Once down from Tryford Hill there is about half a mile of flat(ish) terrain before it’s time to get up to the top of Pen Hill and Beacon hill. Pen Hill is ok, it’s a bit long and steep. Beacon Hill almost broke me, physically and mentally.
First of all, I had not studied the route properly and just assumed that we should run on the lovely path that goes around the hill. Not over it.
There are other hills that are worse in this race, It’s just that at this time, being tired and in the exposed sun, I really struggled.
I had started to ration my drinks already at mile 17 and was on a tight drinking schedule.
Dehydration started to kick in. Since I know I struggle in heat I should have carried more than the 2 x 0.5l bottles of my vest.
Walking up to the top was hard, really hard. Climbing down on the other side was even harder.
My toes hurt a lot, I was tired, and really thirsty. Having only 2 flasks was a big mistake on this part of the race on a hot day like this one. It’s only 8.5 miles between the pitstops, but with the climbing and the heat it was too little for me.
After the decent from this physically small but mentally massive hill I tried to start to run again. Unfortunately, as soon as you come down from Beacon Hill South downs way goes up on the side of Harting Down. So no rest for the wicked.
Noticed that my toes suddenly stopped hurting.
Knew what it meant but was just glad to get rid of the pain.
(Now seven months after the race when I’m writing this, the 4 nails that fell of are about halfway grown back. Lesson: cut your nails or your feet will do it for you!)
I managed to run for a bit but with about a mile to the pit stop I was too tired to run and started with a run one-minute walk one-minute interwall. It wasn’t until I could hear the sound from the base camp that I got the mental energy to start jogging again.
And eventually 2 hrs after leaving pitstop 2 I could finally see base camp.
Here was also the first encounter with the race photographers.
I admire people who look good on the race photos.
People who always look fresh and great, jumping and posing in their photos regardless of distance and speed.
I’m not like that.
Every time I always looks look like tired, sweaty, clumsy, confused and like I’m about to fall over.
If I put in effort to try to look good, it just makes things worse.
This day was no different,
I tried to smile and wave, I really did. I wanted a good picture from this race since I know it would mean a lot to me. But we are all good at different things in life and let’s just say that I will not buy these race photos either.
Base camp /Pit stop 3 (23 miles) was a very welcome relief, not just because I could sit down and eat. But my family was there, and it was very nice to sit in the shade and have an ice cream with my son and focus on thing that was not the race for a bit. Stayed a bit too long but it was really nice to just hang out with them. They spent their whole day just driving around following me, that meant a lot and I was very thankful for their support.
It wasn’t until I left basecamp that I realised how many runners do this as a two-day event. I left base camp about 7 hrs after I had started the race and the road was almost empty of runners. After about 3/4 of a mile I got a bit confused because there did not seem to be any marking anywhere. Race to the king is very well marked and the absence of markers did worry me, so I went back a few hundred meters where I encountered two runners who had done the race before. It turned out that I had been on the right way and after running with them for a while the markers where back.
About a mile after the base camp we had to run along a main road for about 200m and then cross the road. There are some fast cars here and I was quite pleased that it was such short distance. After that it was about 2 miles on a nice small road that then turned into a forest trail. Here is also the halfway point for the race. It was mentally very important for me the know that I had done more than half. About the same time as I reached the halfway point, the winner of the race reached Winchester, very impressive.
Running between mile 27 and mile 29 was quite dull and quite lonely. There was hardly anyone around and it was also on road ( I don’t like running on roads) and it was slightly up hill. It was a big change from being on a trail with loads of people before base camp to be alone on the road.
So it’s fair to say that this was not a very interesting part of the race and I did start to struggle a little bit with motivation here. Here is also the start of almost 3 miles of ascend and that does not help.
After mile 29 it was finally time to leave the road and get back on the trails and over the Queen Elizabeth Country park. Here in the woods I finally starting to meet more runners from the race but I also I once again started to be very tired and starting to lack energy.
I tried to speed up on the downhill parts, but I could barely do that.
But I had something good to look forward to here and I was very pleased to reach the bottom of the hill, because I knew my family would be waiting here.
We had decided to meet and the QE Country Park instead of pitstop 4 because there is a lot more parking spaces there and there is also a playpark, café etc. so more for the family to do than waiting at a pitstop. I have learned afterwards that some of the runners even stopped at the café to eat and fuel up extra.
Even though it had not been long it was really nice to see my family again and get their support.
And I needed it, because after leaving the QE Country Park and run under the A3 I was faced with the biggest hill of the whole race , Butser Hill.
I have driven past Butser hill many times and when you sit in your car and look at it, it looks really big. When you have run over 31 Miles, aching legs, scorching heat, and you’re thirsty and hungry, it does no longer look just big, it looks enormous. And there is no option, the only way was over it.
It took me almost 20 minutes to get from the bottom to the top of the hill.
The sun was baking the hill and the 450 feet of climb from the QEII park to the top of the hill felt really steep. And every step was a fight against fatigue.
The only thought I had in my mind was, “just get to the top” over and over again, “just get to the top”. I really don’t know how I did it, but somehow my body kept pushing and eventually I was at the top. I was so tired, had no energy left in my body, but I had still managed dig deep and force myself up to the hill. It was an epic feeling and I was very proud of myself for getting this far.
I did not know that I had it in me to be so tired and still keep going. It was a great mental boost.
But it was not a great physical boost, I was more shattered at this point than I had ever been in my life, and it was still 22 Miles left to go!
But I knew that if I could do this hill, I could the remaining miles as well.
When I finally reached pitstop 4, (31,5 Miles) nine hours after I started, about two hours behind my plan and two hours after I left basecamp. But that did not face me much, I was on the road of finishing this race and that in itself was a big enough reward. Drank loads, ate what I could and filled up my bottles and bags, and then I was off again. Stayed about 13 minutes before I started off again. My mind was in a good place and my body magically responded well to what I ate so there was no reason to wait around.
I was in really good mood when I left Pitstop 4. My legs were a bit stiff from sitting down so I walked the first 100meters or so, but after that I could start jogging again. I have never experienced my body being so tired only to be ready to run 20 min later. But it was very welcome, and I really enjoyed being energized again.
Most of the distance from Pitstop 4 to pitstop 5 is more or less downhill apart from two small climbs. The path here is really easy to run and it was so nice after all those hills to just have a nice gentle downhill to rest the legs on. If you’re a fast runner, you can probably push it a bit here without sacrificing too much energy.
The surroundings are varied and it’s over all a quite interesting trail to run.
After 2.5 miles you will have to run along a road for a while whilst running through a small village. Here at around mile 34 I met my wife and my son again.
It was really hard to find good places to meet so when I could see them it was really nice. No one can cheer you on like a six-year-old can and it was very sweet to see them again. Only stopped and talked to them for about 2-3 minutes and then I was cheered off again.
Soon after mile 34 you get off the road and back onto the trails. There is a slight uphill trail towards a farm and the top of what’s called “Salt Hill”. Good news about being here is that you know have almost 2 miles of downhill. I don’t have much memory from this part, some parts of the race I remember in great details, but not this bit. Not really sure why I don’t remember much.
But I think that It starts with a quite narrow path in that now and then feels like running in a ditch and I had to watch out where I put my feet. Felt quite narrow, which made it a bit hard to fully get use of the downhill. I do remember passing a gate and crossing a road outside a small village. I started to run low on energy and motivation here and my already slow speed got even slower. Especially when I came to a point just after 36 miles when I was on top of a hill and could see the hill where Pit stop 5 was. It looked so far away (even though it’s only 1.5 miles).
There were also no other runners around and on top of it all it was all on road, which I don’t like.
Having run a lot of track over the winter really paid off here since that makes you very good at setting short goals. I was once again struggling with my motivation and started to do walk / run in intervals. I did this all the way to the little village(?) Meon Springs up to Pitstop 5.
At Pitstop 5, (38 Miles) I ran into my Swedish friend Jesper, this was great news, because even though used to running alone, but after 38 miles I sort of had had enough of myself and the chance of running with him was a much welcome change.
I run alone a lot, mainly because it’s easy. I like the solitude but also because I’m not an amazingly social person, I’m not great at small talk so I don’t make loads of friends out on the trails or on races. But running with together with someone else is very nice, especially when it’s a bit hard. We ended up running together all the way to Winchester, not sure I could have done it by myself. I had seen his family just before the pitstop, a very welcome support in a very tired part of the race.
The section just after pitstop 5 is really nice. It’s a slight uphill to the top of a hill called Old Winchester Hill. Don’t be fooled by the name, we’re still many miles away from Winchester (15 miles to be exact), but at least it’s a sign that we were getting closer.
On the top of Old Winchester hill is the remains of an old bronze age fort and some amazing views. From the top here you can once again see all the way to the coast, and I would say that the views from Old Winchester hills are among the best once in the whole race. So definitely worth stopping for a few seconds just to enjoy the view and take some pictures.
More good news is that from here there is a really nice 1.5 mile downhill after which you enter the very flat remains of the Meonvalley train line for about 2/3 for a mile. So here you can just relax and let your legs move you forward with very little effort. Fuelled by the food from the recent aid station and the downhill here I felt like the miles were just passing by. After having problems with motivation and energy before the pitstop I now felt great again.
After the train line there is a little bit of road begore we had to cross the A32 and run into a village called Exton. In Exton the south downs way passed by a very popular pub called the Shoe inn. Here we once again met up with my wife and son Whilst we chatted with them we saw a fair few runners at the pub enjoying some refreshments, we did not feel for a beer break so we did not stay long, but it was really nice to see the family again.
After a few minutes we were off, heading toward the second hill in the race called Beacon Hill. Just like the first Beacon hill I lost all energy and motivation. Despite the climb being only about 1.5 miles, it felt more like five. We walked it and we walked it slow. The first bit after the pub we were gently jogging, then I just got slower and slower until I barely moved forward.
It also got to me mentally, I really did not like this bit and it felt a bit hopeless.
Jesper was a bit more energetic and was excited because he thought we would see Winchester from the top of the hill.
As the positive person he is, he kept hoping to see Winchester after every hill for the remaining 11 miles. Every single hill. But here was always something in the way. But he kept hoping, every time.
It was quite nice to share the journey with someone who is that positive, especially when you are in a bit of a tired place mentally. Not sure we actually saw Winchester until we were in it.
Before I run RRTK next time I will go to Exton and run up that hill again, just so that I can prepare for it again. I don’t know why it got the better of me, it shouldn’t have, but somehow it did and I did not like it.
Good news is that when from the top of this Beacon Hill there is only just over a mile until Pitstop 6, and its slightly downhill.
About 10 PM after 14 hours of running/walking/jogging 43 Miles we finally reached Pitstop 6. Pitstop 6 was just like the other pitstops absolutely great. I sat down for at least 10 minutes here. I know you should not sit down because you get very stiff muscles, which I got, but I just had to let me feet rest. I don’t remember completely but I think I had watermelon, coke and soup here. But I don’t really remember.
I do remember having really stiff legs when it was time to go.
It’s amazing thought how fast your body and mind can change and when we left Pitstop 6 I felt great again. After a few minutes’ walk just to get rid of any stiffness we soon started to run again. I felt surprisingly fresh. Not sure what they put in their food at Pitstop 6 but whatever it was, it really perked me up. Knowing that it was now only 10 miles left was a boost too.
When we left Pitstop 6 it was getting dark and we decided to put our head torches on.
For about 2 miles after Pitstop 6 the races goes on or next to some fairly empty country roads (at least at least they were empty when we were running there late in the evening). One benefit of being in the back of the pack is that there are more opportunities to meet up with friends and family. In the middle between Pit stop 6 and 7 there is a pub called “The Milburys”, here we could once again catch up with my support crew.
After the pub the race leaved the roads behind and follows a bridal path slightly downhill all the way to pit stop7.
The distance between Pitstop 6 and pitstop 7 was only a few miles and here we just stopped for a few minutes, filled up our bottles, had some sweets and then set out on the last part of the race. Next stop Winchester! We were now 46.2 miles into the race and had only 7.3 miles to go.
To Jesper’s delight one of the crew members said that as soon as we reached the top of the hill in front of us, we would be able to see Winchester. We thought he meant the little hill in front of us and got really excited. We were wrong.
No Winchester here, just a long dark farm road.
Shortly after pitstop 7 we crossed the A272 and spent the upcoming miles running over fields and on farm roads. Every time we came to the top of a small hill, we thought we would see Winchester.
At the same time a deep tiredness started to come over me, not the normal feeling of tired muscles, a new tiredness I had never felt before. A tiredness of a being in a body that have no more to give, a feeling of being empty of energy. Normally if I get tired when I run, I can just walk and then I feel better after a little bit. This time walking did not help.
The miles spent here in the farmlands ahead of Winchester were by far the slowest ones of the whole race for me. I could not run much at all and even though I normally like running in the dark, this time it gave me no joy. Felt like we were out here for ages. It took us just under one hour to cover the three miles between the A272 crossings.
Somewhere nearby there was party going on, we could never locate the source of the sounds but in this clear summer night the cover band gave us a good soundtrack of classic 80-ies rock.
After about 49 miles the path turns 90 degrees to the left and there is time for the last hill of the race. A slow 1.5 miles of climb back over the A272 and up to a hill called Telegraph hill. As we passed the A272 the path became quite narrow, and I have vague memories of some low trees, but eventually we came out in the clear and here on the side of Telegraph hill, we could finally see Winchester (Hurray!). It was so close.
From this point there was more or less downhill all the way and we started to run for a bit.
But after a while I just could not run any more.
When we reached the little village after 51.5 Miles, I was really tired, and I just want to lay down. I did not care that it’s by the side of the road, don’t care that it’s the in middle of the night, I just want to lay down. It felt like I had nothing left. My legs started to feel very stiff and ache. I felt like a wobbling hutch back and It felt like I had suddenly aged 100 years. It’s in situations like these it’s good to be two. Jesper kept me motivated and we kept going.
We finally came to the M3 crossing and somehow, I managed to stumble over it.
Suddenly at 52 Miles, with less than two miles to go, my body felt like running again! My felt a little bit of energy coming my way and we decide to see how many people we can run past before the finishing line. I say “run” but considering how stiff my legs were and how tired my whole body was it was more like some sort of wobble. But we moved forward and step by step we got closer and closer to the finishing line. House by house, street by street. Suddenly it was just a mile left, we could see the cathedral.
Less than a mile to go, there was no energy left in my body, but I ran on pure excitement of finally being close to reach the end. All I can hear was the sounds of our footsteps as we ran along the wall that surround the cathedral. It was almost one o’clock on Saturday night. Winchester felt empty. Suddenly we reached the last corner, we could see finishing line and we could hear the cheers and it was the best feeling ever.
After moving for 17hrs and 5 minutes, travelling over 53.6 Miles, I finally reached the end of Race to the King 2019. Somehow, I have managed to run 53.6 Miles!
I crossed the finishing line, got a big hug from my wife, my son and wife were really good. They had spent their whole day supporting me and for that I’m very thankful. I tried to schedule fun things for them to do between the stops, but it’s hard since I did not know how fast I would be.
(There was a race photographer at the finish, but let’s not even talk about that)
It was not as fast as I had planned for, I was more tired than I could ever imagine, I was in a lot of pain, But I was also really happy.
Big thanks to my Wife Angela and my son Thomas for their unconditional support both before, during and after the race. It must have been really boring for them at times.
Not only did they follow me from the start, my wife also drove both Jesper and myself home.
Thank you so much love you loads!
Also big thanks to Jesper for running with me and keeping my spirit up!
And to Threshold sports and all the Crew who made the race possible.
Was it worth it?
It was a fantastic Race and I will be definitely back one day, it was worth all the effort I put in.
What did I learn?
I learned that I could push myself for a lot longer than I thought, I have started to learn how to just keep going.
I also learned that I could keep going even if it hurts. A bit of pain is not the end of the world.
I learned that in a race like RTTK time does not really matter, the experience and just reaching the finishing line is more important.
Below is some of the post codes that we used to meet up during the race.
Some of the pit stops are have very limited parking so it’s worth looking at alternatives.
The slower you are, the less problem parking will be.
0 miles Start Gaston Farm BN18 0RS
5 miles Madehurst Roundabout BN18 9FD Café opens at 9:00
15 miles Pitstop 2 Family welcome Hill Barn, Cocking, GU29 0HS
23.5 miles Pitstop 3 & Base camp PO18 9NN Family welcome
30 miles 16:00 PM Queen Elisabeth Park PO8 0QE Kids and dog friendly
31.5 miles Pitstop 4 GU31 5SP top of Butser hill, limited parking
34.2 miles The Sustainability Centre GU32 1HR
41 miles “The shoe inn” Exton SO32 3NT ,
45.2 miles “The Millburys” SO24 0PB
48.7 miles Pitstop 7 SO24 0NX “Holden Farm”
53.7 miles: Finish Winchester Cathedral, 9 The Close, Winchester, Hampshire,
SO23 3SD (Colbrook street carpark) Will take time to get parking
Shoes: Hoka one one Clifton 4.
I choose these because I knew that the South downs way can get quite hard when it’s dry. It was very hard in June 2019, so it was a good choice for me.
Poles: I borrowed a pair of foldable poles and they worked really well for me. I did a lot of Nordic skiing when I grew up, so I know how to use them effectively. It really helps on the hill climbs.
Vest: Ultimate Direction SJ vest 4.
Good, comfortable, solid and all-around practical vest that can carry everything I need.
Watch: Apple watch S4.
I was worried about the battery life for the Apple watch, since it’s more of a jack of all trade’s kind of watch rather than a pure running watch. But I did not see the point in spending money on a running watch just for one race. Instead I just brought a small battery pack with me and charged the watch 2-3 times at pit stops. Worked really well.
Chafing: Squirrels Nut Butter
There are probably other products that work just as fine, but I fell for the American hype and bought “Squirrels Nut Butter”. To be fair, it worked amazingly well, I have had a lot of problems on long runs in the past, especially with my neoprene knee support rubbing through the skin. With Squirrels Nut Butter I could do the whole race without any problem.
What will I do different next time:
I will bring another soft flask so that I can carry more fluids.
I will study the course more, I ran better where I had knowledge about what was going on.
I will try to be more social and run more together with other people, it really helps.