On 10 July, Mrs Lydia Dakin, Head of Classics, completed the ‘Race to the Stones’ Ultramarathon. Part of the Threshold Trail Series, the 100km route is the longest of the four races and follows Britain’s oldest path, starting in Lewknor in Oxfordshire and ending at the iconic Avebury Stone Circle. Many competitors choose to complete the course in two days, however, Mrs Dakin completed the 100km route in one day with an impressive time of 13 and a half hours.
‘I love running and find it a good way to have some time out or take a mental break from anything that is causing me stress,’ explains Mrs Dakin. ‘In lockdown, it became a good way for me to get exercise, get fresh air and have some time to myself that provided a mindful outlet. I really enjoy trail running and ultras allow for more time to enjoy the view, take photos and just be amazed at the world around me.’
Mrs Dakin had completed two ultramarathons before, with the longest being the Race to the King ultramarathon in 2019, which covers 85km. ‘Race to the Stones is longer, so it was a new challenge for me. I enjoy pushing myself to see what I can manage, and running is such a pure sport; I am reliant on myself, my body and my mental strength’ says Mrs Dakin. Ultramarathon runners usually have a 16-24 week-long training plan, and Mrs Dakin is no stranger to these long preparation times. However, she suffered a calf injury and could not train for eight weeks prior to the race, making her achievement even more impressive.
‘The human body is amazing! I was never an athlete at school and first started running in my late 20s. I have learnt everything about running from experience rather than instruction.’ Building on her previous race experience, Mrs Dakin reflected on her previous races and implemented valuable lessons in the Race to the Stones challenge. ‘My first ultramarathon taught me that food is really important. Eat early and as much as you can, also, test all your kit, don’t use something for the first time on race day.’
Mrs Dakin emphasises the importance of preparation, positive visualisation and that anyone can do it; mental resilience is just as important as physical resilience. ‘You’re a winner just by getting to the start line! Picture yourself at the finish line, wearing the medal, cheered on by the crowds. One thing the races have in common is how friendly ultra-runners are. Everyone will talk to you, anyone will stop if you need help, and you find yourself sharing your life story with all sorts of people.’
Congratulations, from all at Downe House, to Mrs Dakin on her achievement. We are excited to see her next challenge following a well-deserved rest.
Explore Mrs Dakin’s route in full at the Race to the Stone’s event page.
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