Going Gap Run 2021 is now full please use the waiting list if you would like to be informed of any cancellations
The Goring Gap Ultra is part of the RunReading Trail Running Weekend, there are also half marathon and marathon distance events taking place. The Goring Gap is a narrow valley between Reading & Wallingford where the Thames squeezes between the Berkshire Downs and Southern Chilterns. Our route uses the Thames Path and quiet rural lanes linking some incredibly beautiful riverside villages. The Riverside Race Village is located in Mapledurham Estate a world heritage site a couple of miles outside Reading where we have parking and camping (if required).
I am new to trail ultras, what should I expect?
Firstly forget everything you know about road racing, forget the stress and the crowds, forget the pressure to run a PB, forget trying to beat the person in front of you! We want to set you free from all that to enjoy the journey, the trails and the company of the people who join you on this challenge.
This event has been designed with those who are new to trail & ultra in mind but experienced ultra runners are very welcome and encouraged to share their knowledge of the sport. Please don’t worry that you will feel out of place or that everyone else is going to be a super fit mountain goat. We are are there to support you and will be on hand to help out if needed.
Regardless of your ability this race needs to be taken seriously. We suggest following a training plan such as this one from RunUltra, spending time running trails to get used to the terrain, train using the equipment and kit you will use on the day and if possible recce the route in shorter sections in the weeks leading up to the event.
How fast to do i need to run?
So ultra requires a completely different mindset to road running, everyone is going to walk some of it and some people most of it. Think of it as more of a challenge than a race, it’s a long way and much tougher but more enjoyable than pounding the streets. Slowing down and conserving energy will be a revelation, the pressure is off and you can concentrate on enjoying the journey. Chatting to fellow runners is one of the joys of trail and ultra, you will make friends along the way and you will find everyone very supportive. Breaking down the route into the sections between support stations will help keep the challenge manageable.
Pace will be anything between around 4 hours, a little over 7 minute miles and 10 hours around 19 minute miles or 3.5mph if you include a few minutes at each support stop. So you can see the pace is much slower than a marathon which it needs to be to allow for the terrain, the climbs and time at support stops. There are cut off times but they are generous, the cut offs are managed at the support stations, you have roughly 2 hours to complete each 6 mile section and a total of 10 hours to complete the route. The achievement is finishing not how fast you finish!
What is the terrain like?
The route is on national trails, public footpaths, bridleways and quiet lanes. It’s a mixture of tracks (vehicle width byways), trails (single track paths) and quiet lanes (tarmac or reasonable surface roads). There will be rooty sections, uneven surfaces and the odd gate, but it’s all good running. If it’s wet then it’s likely to be muddy in places, we will advise on shoe choice as we get closer to the event. You will pass through villages and use short sections of village roads. Usually in an ultra you would expect a few big climbs but as our route follows a river valley it is mostly flat, however there are a couple of interesting features to make the legs burn a little!
IMPORTANT – Roads are not closed. We use short sections of quiet lanes so please be aware there may be motor vehicles or farm traffic on these roads. Road crossings are not marshalled, we will sign crossings but you must stop and check it’s safe to cross, even if you cannot hear or see a vehicle there could be a bike, a horse rider or a pedestrian coming the other way. You are expected to act as any other pedestrian would when crossing a road. At the end of the day it’s common sense to look after yourself, and other people. Likewise, the trails are not closed so you are likely to encounter dog walkers, mountain bikers, ramblers and other people doing their thing, we have no more right to be there than they do so please show respect to other trail users.
How will I know which way to go?
1. We mark the route with arrows, signs and yellow paint . In a road race it’s possible to “turn off” and just follow the flow, trail running is not like that, quite quickly you will be on your own or in a small group and so it’s important to maintain concentration.
2. We provide hard copy maps of each section (a section starts at a support stop and finishes at the next one). If you can navigate and are good at reading maps it should be possible to make your way round without markers. With a combination of markers and maps it should not be too difficult to follow the route. Essentially you are running along a river valley so there are not that many places you can go wrong.
3. We do have marshals at key points on the route, just be aware that we have three race distances (there is a half marathon, marathon as well a the ultra run) the routes differ a little and at one or two junctions take a different direction (signed) but check with the marshal if you are unsure.
4. Additionally we provide a GPX download which you can upload to a handheld GPS device.
What happens if I go off track or run into a problem?
The route is easy to follow but if you do get lost or go off track so firstly don’t worry about it.
1. Track back and see if you can pick up the trail, don’t panic about losing time, calmly accept that it’s happened, the less time you spend worrying about it the quicker you will get back on track. Oh, and no you won’t be disqualified!
2. Call us on the published mobile number (Race Guide) we will explain how to get back on track or come and pick you up if you cannot continue. If you just wish to drop out please make it to the next support station where you can get food and attention while you wait for us to arrive.
3. Should you have a medical issue if at all possible please make it to a junction where it is easier for the medical team to reach you before calling us. The river bank is awkward for vehicles and it will take them more time to find you and bring the correct equipment needed.
What kit do i need?
So it’s summer, it’s a run, what could i possibly need to take other than my running kit? Well it’s important to understand that this is a serious challenge and you should prepare for all eventualities. If you need to stop then it’s wise to have something to pull on to keep warm, if it’s raining you need a waterproof. You are out there for a long time and you need a way to contact us or call for support if you run into a problem.
You are responsible for carrrying your own water. Although we have support stations where you can refill, you can never be entirely sure during an ultra how long it will take you to reach the next station. Some sections might take longer than others due to heat, terrain, tiredness, injury, navigational issues etc. There are three ways to carry fluids on the run: handheld, multi-bottle waist belt, and hydration pack. Find out what works best for you during your training runs.
Items you might like to consider taking with you are –
- LA base layer – a separate layer to that which you start the race in which should be kept dry and used only in an emergency.
- A waterproof jacket with sealed seems – runners who become wet through suffer reduced core temperature leading to a slowing of pace which can ultimately result in hypothermia. Jackets without sealed seems are not waterproof – the fabric should be verified waterproof (not wind or showerproof). The minimum water resistance of a jacket should be 10,000mm. As well as keeping you dry the waterproof can also be used to keep you warm should the temperature suddenly drop
- Lightweight gloves
- A plastic bag for wet clothes, and rubbish
- A Bottle or hydration pack (to carry between 1L & 3L of water)
- Electrolyte drink eg. SOS Rehydrate and extra sachets for re-fill
- A mix of fuel – Energy bars/chews and sweets etc..
- OS Map – take a map or the section of the map
- Waterproof map case if it’s wet
- GPS Device
- Mobile Phone (COMPULSORY) – with spare battery or on-the-go charger
- Whistle – If you suffer an injury and are unable to proceed the whistle may help your being located far more quickly than without one.
- Lip Balm
- Insect spray
- Compeed Blister Plaster
- Antiseptic cream
- Foil blanket
- Tissues/Wet Wipes
- Kinesiology Tape – Cut into strips already
- Blister Stick
© rare air events 2021
RunReading & Goring Gap Run are organised by Rare Air Events with support from Racesolutions Limited. © Racesolutions Limited & Rare Air Events 2020 & 2021