Will Kemp Race to the Stones Q&A
Last time we talked to Will Kemp he was fresh off the back of a victory at the Brutal Events Oner Ultra. Read here 👇🏼
He mentioned he was already building into his next phase ready to take on the 100km Race to the Stones during July. We caught up with Will for a Part 2 Q&A on how his race along Britains oldest path panned out…
Hi again Will! Last time we talked you mentioned you were already training for the Race to the Stones 100km. How did it go?
Really pleased to pick up another win! This season has already surpassed expectations. I had a faster time in mind but when the temperatures started to escalate, there was little choice but to race the conditions. This year in races my process goals have been around learning how to race and close off races in different scenarios and conditions which has taken pressure off times and made racing more fun. A great event and kudos to the organisers ensuring everything went so smoothly in the heat!
Congratulations! How did it differ from the 82 mile Brutal Events Oner Ultra?
For me the major factor was that RttS has less elevation gain and more consistent gradients than the Oner making it really runable. The Oner’s route was awesome but I was keen at this stage in the year to go for a flatter race to allow me to pick up on speedwork and running economy to set me up well for the rest of the year.
It was a SUPER hot day and it must have taken its toll on a lot of runners. Can you tell us some more on your fuel and hydration strategy?
I was expecting that when the temperatures ramped up that digesting food whilst running at pace was going to be hard work – but also that going for gels and sports drinks the whole way would also be hard work. I wanted to hit 300-400kcal for as long as I could. Supernatural fuel meant that during the early stages of the race I could digest balanced, simple, real food quickly without worrying about the energy required to digest solids. I had half a pack every 15mins for the first few hours – so much easier to manage than messing around with bar wrappers! Using Supernatural in training I am sure helped. With hydration I was drinking a litre an hour which was up from 500-750ml on the Oner. As the race went on, I moved more to gels and drinks.
Chilled Supernatural Fuel for the win?
Haha – I was doing everything I could to keep my body temperature down. The night before I crammed my race fuel into a cool box packed with ice – picking up mini Supernatural ice-packs along the route and putting them in my pack definitely had a psychological benefit! They kept cool for quite some time!
What will you take away from Race to the Stones?
I have always thought I have raced best in the coldest and wettest weather conditions and so for me this race really helped with the self-belief that I can race in the heat. Developing my positive self-talk during training and racing has really helped during difficult moments and is certainly something to continue.
You’re coached by Supernatural Fuel ambassador Damian Hall. It seems you’ve adopted his talent as a super diverse runner who takes on many different types of races and challenges. How’s Damian as a coach?
Damian is a hero – always positive, always dropping gems of information, everything is planned out and having a coach not only puts everything in perspective but gives me such confidence that I am in great shape. That positive mindset and self-belief really enables me to focus on giving everything in hard training sessions and races – and really enjoy my running!
Your ethos of ‘your best athletic years are ahead of you’ is a great type of mindset! Can you delve a little deeper into this?
I am so inspired by older athletes. I have been lucky to have had older mentors and friends who just keep going out and challenging themselves, forgetting about their age, loving the sport and being serious about getting faster. Believing that you can keep getting faster, keep getting more out of training is so powerful and positive. It means you keep learning, stay humble, keep innovating. I really believe that everyone inspires someone and that having this mindset is probably inspiring someone else their age to challenge themselves. Ultrarunning by nature is such an inspiring sport in so many ways and can help so many others believe that they can do more themselves.
And what’s next for Will Kemp?
I have a short turnaround now before the South Wales Traverse. The route covers all of the peaks above 600m in the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains. Damian has set a really fast time and I will be seeing how close I can get to it! Naturally being him, he is giving me plenty of advice and ideas which I am very grateful for. The route means a lot to me but the amount of climbing (17,500 ft over 73 miles) is going to push my limits – naturally I’ll need to have my nutrition dialled in from the start!