The Road to Georgia – Racing The Planet 2020

My Path To Racing The Planet: Georgia

Reflecting on my stage race experiences and how I signed up for Racing The Planet Georgia.

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It’s been almost three years since I ran a full stage race.

After running several in quick succession from 2014 to 2016, it felt like a good time to take a break from them; my appetite for the long hours of training was wearing off, and I felt in danger of losing all enthusiasm for the sport.

In the time since, I’ve kept myself busy (including writing The Stage Race Handbook, among other projects).

The idea of returning to stage races was always in the back of my head, but I wanted to wait until I was ready for it.

The Road to Georgia - Racing The Planet 2020 1

Stage races are races spread over a few days; most of them last 5 or 6 days, and many involve you carrying all your own gear and food.  Tents and water are provided.

So I had been tentatively keeping an eye on the Stage Race scene to see if any particular race grabbed my eye…

As the number of stage races each year seems to be on the rise, along with more variations of format and level of support, there’s no shortage of choice.

My first stage was the Racing The Planet race in Madagascar back in 2014.   It was an unforgettable experience in a country I had long wanted to visit.   

So I’ve always had a soft spot for the Racing The Planet format – they make it challenging but provide an excellent level of organisation and support.

Along with their annual ‘4 Deserts‘ series of races, each year they organise a one-off race in a new location.   A race that will only exist once, and won’t be repeated.  My Madagascar race was one of them, other locations have included Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand.

So a couple of months ago they announced the location of their ultramarathon for 2020 . . . Georgia.

The Road to Georgia - Racing The Planet 2020 2

It’s a country that had honestly never been on my radar, but at the same time, had the otherworldly appeal that all good stage races need.

The unique location, culture, and highest mountain range in Europe  . . . it ticks all the boxes.   So I signed up straight away. 

It’s a 250km, 5-stage, 6-day self-supported stage race – the classic format.

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Training for RTP Georgia

My distance running training has been sorely lacking in the past few months – that’s part of the reason I signed up so far in advance.   

I’ve got 14 months to get myself prepared, in order to maximise my performance (or minimise the pain, depending how you look at it).

My run training has been limited to a few 5k and 10k runs each week recently, and my strength training hasn’t been much to write home about.

Now I have a target in mind, my aim is to spend the next few months working on speed and short distances along with some strength work.   Then towards the end of this year I’ll begin to introduce longer distance runs.

I don’t have a formal training plan, but I’ve got a rough idea of what I need to be focussing on.  The plan is to strengthen my core fitness and base running speed, then gradually introduce long runs and back-to-back runs. 

The big two wildcards for Racing The Planet Georgia are going to be the altitude and the hills.

Racing The Planet have already let us know that the route is going to be through the foothills of the Causcasus mountain range, with a typical altitude of 1000-2000m but with some sections up to 3000m.   This is certainly in a range where some altitude training would be a huge advantage, so in around six months I’ll try and start training in a gym with an altitude room.

As for the hills, historically they’ve been a big weakness of mine – so again, time to hit the trails!

I’ll blog here occasionally on how my Racing The Planet Georgia training readiness is going as the race grows nearer.

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson

Thomas Watson is an ultra-runner, UESCA-certified running coach, and the founder of MarathonHandbook.com. His work has been featured in Runner's World, Livestrong.com, MapMyRun, and many other running publications. He likes running interesting races and good beer. More at his bio.

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