And like that, it was time to run. 16 weeks of training are done, and it's time for the Wareable team to tackle Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones. This Saturday 15 July, the race is truly on.
The 100km ultramarathon is one of the UK's finest – and while Sophie will tackle the first 50km – James, Paul, Conor and Mike will try to endure the full distance in one sitting.
Running and walking, the team will race to the stones along the legendary Ridgeway – the path once walked by Roman soldiers and Bronze Age traders. But will Team Wareable conquer this centurion to the Stones? Or will they be beaten by fatigue, blisters and the sheer distance?
Here's how the team has prepped…
Mike Sawh – Editor
I still feel like I was only looking at that Race to the Stones training plan for the first time not all that long ago, and now it's less than a day away from running/walking/crawling 100km for the first time ever. So much is running through my brain right now. What's my strategy, when should I refuel, should I wear a cap? I never wear a cap when I go running.
There's also been the rather important decision to decide what goes in my 'emergency bag' at the 50k point. Emergency perhaps isn't the right word, but this is basically the stuff that should help tackle that second 50k. I'm relying on things that've helped me during my marathons, like my Maxinutrition RecoveryMax and MyProtein protein powder (chocolate mint for the win) to ease the pain in the legs and some extra gels and protein balls as snacks. There's also a head torch in there as I expect to be running during the night and some extra kit in case I'm a sweaty mess.
As for my running bag, I'm trying my best to keep things to a minimum, but I keep thinking of extra things to pack to ensure I'm prepared for all scenarios. Paracetamol, sunscreen, tiger balm all make the cut. As does my trusty anti blister/chafe balm.
There'll be plenty of tech too. I'll have two phones, two pairs of wireless headphones, power packs and my TomTom Adventurer and Garmin Forerunner 935 running watches. Let's not forget the hydration bladder and small water bottles that'll be in my running pouch up front. Now that is all is left to do is get a good night's sleep (no chance), get into my marathon routine and eat enough in the morning to fuel that first leg of running and then try and make my way to the Stones.
I'm a mixture of excitement and nerves. Will I finish? I just don't know. Just like I visualise the end of a marathon and my dream time, I've been visualising the Wareable team all making it to the end and that's my main motivation, to make sure I'm there at the end with them.
Sophie Charara – Features editor
Me and my Fitbit Alta HR went for a 22km-ish walk across South West London last Saturday as final prep.
It both encouraged me and further panicked me. Encouraged because I did almost half the total distance in a mostly enjoyable afternoon - plus no bleeding toes this time, just a bit of soreness. Panicked as I was really ready for a short break and rest for my legs and feet at both my first pit stop and the end.
I haven't packed yet as it's not as much of a big deal for me but it turns out I wasn't drinking water or eating snacks nearly enough on my last training walk so I'll correct for that on the day. My backpack on the day will include Goji headphones, a head torch, battery pack, spare socks, water, snacks and I'm not sure what else.
Now, my main concern before Saturday is nailing my 12 - 14 hour playlist.
James Stables – Co-founder
I've only ever run one race properly prepared, and as Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones is just hours away, it seems that record remains unchanged.
In retrospect, I was never going to be fully ready. In one sense, can one ever be prepared to run 100km? You'd never feel as if you'd trained enough. But also, I made choices about my training and started so far back in terms of fitness, this was never about turning myself into an ultrarunner.
Ultrarunners tend to step up from marathon distance and the training plan sent by RTTS didn't really prescribe much more running than a standard marathon programme. I'm a proficient half marathoner, but haven't competed since October.
I'm glad I've trained the way I have. I've forgone all-out running in favour of multi-disciplines. Loads of walking, a bit of cycling (indoor and outdoor). I've spend time in the gym for the first time in my life. And of course, trail running, slow 13 mile runs home and scores and scores of 10ks.
I thought I was going to step it up to get interesting. Run two 10Ks in a day. Run 10 5Ks just to psychologically prepare. But in the end, ensuring I was recovering, staving off injury and balancing life, work and the big race prep just meant I couldn't quite push through to the end as I'd envisaged. Give me another 16 weeks – who am I kidding? I'd still be behind.
So what will get me through? Well, I've really upped my walking fitness, as well as my running. I'd never run a trail properly before this process, and I love it. And while I'm not ready to cover this distance in either discipline, perhaps a combo of the two will get me close to the end. I've learned a little about my race fuel, and like Paul, take some hope that I can fuel my way to the end via snacks, carbs and electrolytes, which I have a vague plan for.
And the tech? Well my Fenix 5 should go to the end, even with the GPX of the route uploaded so we don't get lost. We're relying on phone contact with our support crew, and we've set up a neat Google Map with way points where we can meet for clean, dry clothes and replacement shoes.
And Dixons Carphone sent us some gear to keep us going. We've got a couple of GoPro Hero 5s so we can capture the most painful moments, and powering all these devices is a Goji battery pack to keep everything topped up, and, of course, two pairs of headphones: my favourites, the Jabra Sport Pulse Second Edition (which also boast heart rate) and the also the budget and brilliant Monster iSport Achieve. Battery life is around five hours on both, and tunes are going to be essential.
But the secret weapon. I think it's the team. If we stick together, we'll drag each other by. And we've even written notes to ourselves, hidden in our care-package and held by our support crew, for when things get really dark? What's the odds of me making it? The good side of 50/50.
Conor Allison – Reporter
What happened to all the time? There was so much time. Well, not anymore. Race day is almost here and, in all honesty, I'm not sure how to feel about it. My gut tells me there's not enough miles in my legs to feel confident about completion, but I remain hopeful that the level of fitness I've built up over the last few months and having a group to run with will help me make it over the line relatively intact.
Of course, success in this haul will be largely about planning for different eventualities. I'm not setting up to pack the kitchen sink in my bag, but the long-distance basics — water, electrolytes and a fresh pair of socks — will all be involved. And not just that, but having backup battery packs, in order to avoid the Apple Watch and Garmin Fenix 3 conking out, will also be essential.
Paul Lamkin – Co-founder
I did a 50km run/walk on Friday (probably ran around 15-20km of it) and now I'm all about the snacks. The tech too, of course (Polar M430 is now my race-day watch of choice) but it's mainly the snacks.
I've always relied on concentrated fruit bars to get me through (much smaller) events in the past but, after doing some research on what I should be taking on board to get me through what will be by far the furthest I've ever travelled on foot, I'm genuinely looking forward through to grazing my way through a plethora of snacks on race day.
In no way am I concentrating on the snacks in order to keep my incredible fear of the race from over-spilling and from having a major meltdown. In no way at all.
Wish us luck.