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Photo credit: Konstantin Holzner.

Once around the island. The Isle of Wight Challenge by Konstantin Holzner


Last updated: 20-Aug-18

By Konstantin Holzner

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re probably right. This quote, widely attributed to Henry Ford, resonated a lot with me as I was walking through the dark. 20km from the finish line I started to feel the previous 86km. At my current pace, it would be another 5 hours before I would cross it. There were no thoughts of giving up really, just the wish to get there sooner rather than later.

A couple of months ago I attended an information event for the Isle of Wight Challenge with a couple of friends and won free entry in the raffle that night. Now I had to do it. This was my first long distance race.

The Isle of Wight provided a suitably stunning background for this experience. The coastal path along the cliff edges after passing The Needles in the very west of the island was the most beautiful leg of the walk once around the island. The wind was moving the grass and the fields had started to turn to autumnal colours. The afternoon light made everything look especially pretty.

Photo credit: Konstantin Holzner

Unfortunately we missed the sunset as we were sat in the dinner tent at the 56km point. The after dinner leg of the challenge featured some hilly terrain and pretty awesome overgrown trails zigzagging through the bushes. Although quite spooky in the dark, navigation was not a problem due to the brilliant sign posting that included glow sticks all along the trail.

The next couple of kilometres to the food station at 77km were the most technically demanding, and our pace dropped dramatically. I began to feel a bit nauseous. The hot food options didn’t really appeal to me. As much as I love bacon, burgers and sausages, it wasn’t what I wanted at this point. I forced down some pasta salad and a sandwich.

Following the food break, our muscles were stiff and needed warming up. After a slow start down the hill from the food station our pace picked up and we were back on track for our 24-hour target time. As the kilometres passed by, our pace dropped again and we oscillated between a ‘yes we can’ attitude and utter exhaustion.

Photo credit: Konstantin Holzner

We hit the 100km marker after almost exactly 23 hours. The next 5km down to the ferry across the River Medina dragged on and on. I started massaging my leg muscles as I was walking. Whilst waiting for the ferry, my muscles seized up completely and it took almost the entire final kilometre on the other side to warm them up again. Crossing the finish line was surprisingly emotional and overwhelming. It was finally done. Over. Sit down and relax.

Luckily, my legs weren’t all that painful the next morning, and I was already looking up the next challenges. I think the Isle of Wight Challenge was an ideal beginner event with its relaxed atmosphere. Most people seemed to be in it for the challenge and didn’t necessarily see it as a race.

Next time though, I’m planning to run as much as possible, and I’ll be looking for an event with split times and a real race atmosphere. You can find a full review of Action Challenge, the organiser of the Isle of White Challenge, on my blog.


Janneke Dobben and Konstantin Holzner at the finish line. Photo credit: Konstantin Holzner.

Review Once around the island. The Isle of Wight Challenge by Konstantin Holzner

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