Former British modern pentathlete turned triathlete Heather Fell is taking part in the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones on the 4 th and 5 th of July. The race, which can be completed in one day or over two days will see more than 2,500 people run, jog or walk along the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire to the Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sport has been and still is my life. I started out swimming and riding ponies from a very young age. This lead me into Modern Pentathlon and then onto triathlon. I currently work in sport as a presenter for a triathlon channel and am always targetting some sort of physical challenge
What was the last thing you trained for?
Properly, that would have been Comrades Ultra marathon in June last year, but I did put in a few swim sessions for the Dart 10k at the end of last summer too.
You’re taking part in this year’s Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones. What made you decide to take on the challenge?
I always like to have a physical goal, it keeps me sane and happy. It’s an event that caught my eye years ago and last year I saw world champion triathlete Chrissie Wellington took part just before running Comrades. This year I wanted something closer to home but still a challenge, and attempting 100k for the first time ticks that box.
Have you been involved in a similar race in the past?
Just the one ultra I ran last year in South Africa, but that was on road and just 87k
What kind of schedule/program will you follow to prepare for it? How will it differ from your usual training?
I am planning on preparing very similarly to last year expect with more off-road running which suits me, I just can’t wait for the trails to dry up a little so I can actually run rather than just slide. I put quite an emphasis on strength and conditioning to enable my body to withstand the mileage. It’s very much about training for resilience for this sort of racing. I need to build up to several 100k weeks but it is a balance between getting in the miles, finding the time and staying injury-free.
What are you most worried/concerned about in taking on the race?
Nutrition and my keeping my stomach happy are my biggest concerns and something I certainly havnen’t found the solution for yet. That and of course being able to run further than I’ve ever run before.
Do you have any advice for people that are maybe taking on the race in terms of mental preparation?
The race should be the “fun” part if you’ve trained hard enough. I don’t just mean doing a few tough sessions but getting out there when you don’t feel like doing it, training on tired legs at the end of a long day, in weather that is less favorable. I also rate doing some of your training alone with your thoughts, no music, no one to chat with, that gives you time to work out why you’re doing it and teaches you to deal with the monotony. When it comes to race day with fresh legs (at least at the start), the atmosphere and so many people running with you it will feel easy in comparison.
How will you celebrate after finishing the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones?
I’m not sure how late it will be by the time I’m done but I would love to go for a wild swim then finish off with a pub lunch in a beer garden with friends, the perfect recovery.
What have you got coming up after the race? More ultra marathons?
I haven’t got that far but I might try and do a few smaller and shorter races, keep things local and find events that I can do for fun. I do have the 10k swim again so I’ll also need to get back in the pool or lake by then. That said I would quite like to try and run a fast marathon before the year is out so I’ll just wait and see where my head is at after Race to the Stones.
By Jessica Addington