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Photo credit: Tamara Stultz.

Race to the King: An ultra virgin’s tale


Last updated: 06-Nov-18

By Tamara Sturtz

I have just signed up to walk the Race to the King, a double ultra marathon over two days in June. 52 miles! For those that don’t know me, this may seem like a challenge for any sporty, exercise-loving type. But I’m not one of those.

I was always the girl at school who was rubbish at sport: I came last in every race, I have never hit a rounders ball, I had my ‘period’ all month to avoid swimming, and always volunteered to umpire at netball rather than play. As for cross country running, well, let’s just say the commiseration donut for coming last was almost worth it!

Even now, I would rather pay £6 to park the car than do the ten-minute walk into town, and I’m far happier relaxing on the sofa than going for a family walk. I hate the gym, I loathe running, and I’m too embarrassed to go swimming. But the crux of it is that I need to lose weight. About four stone in fact.

In my teens and twenties I was a slim size ten to twelve. In my thirties I crept up to a size fourteen. After my daughter was born I hit sixteen, soon followed by size eighteen. Two years ago, I finally did something about it. I trained in the gym with a fabulous trainer and I ate ‘clean’ for six months. I lost two stone. I felt amazing.

Then my mother was diagnosed with dementia. One minute we were drinking cappuccinos together in Carluccio’s, and three months later she was sectioned in a mental health unit, never to return to her own home. I wasn’t prepared for the speed in which she was going to decline and we have been through hell and back over the last year.

As a result, I stopped going to the gym, often ate ‘on the go’ and drank at least half a bottle of wine each evening to unwind from the stress. The weight gradually piled back on, and by January this year, I was practically back to square one.

However, my mother is now finally being looked after in a wonderful care home, and 2016 feels like the year to make changes in my life. Perhaps this is why, when Kerry Sutton, my personal trainer,  asked me this crazy question of whether I would consider walking the Race to the King, I said “yes”.

I have only known Kerry for a few weeks, but there is something about her that has finally made me start enjoying exercise for the first time in my life, and also made me feel as though I can achieve great things. For me, committing to this race is turning the idea of exercise on its head. Instead of doing it because I have to, I’m doing it because I want to.

I know that there will be days that are cold and wet, and dragging myself out of bed to go for a walk will be the last thing I feel like doing. And I know that there will be tears and days that I won’t want to carry on. But I also know, that I will do this, however hard it proves to be, and I will be stronger, healthier and slimmer for it.


Kerry is a run performance coach who works on the principal that we're all capable of much more than we realise. For more information please visit www.kerrysutton.co.uk.

Note from RunUltra: We will be following Tamara on her journey… to the beginning of her ultra and then the end.

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