The final event of the 2018 season is upon us. Wendover Woods 50 presents the biggest challenge at this distance from our four 50 mile events. Featuring approximately 10,000ft of climb over 50 miles and with an extended 15 hour cut off we traditionally see slower times than across our other three 50 mile events.
This year we welcome 250 runners to the start line for 0800 Saturday 16th November. Among them are 59 Grand Slammers, looking to complete the journey of finishing all four of our 50s in a single calendar year.
The 50 Mile Slam table as it stands is available by clicking here
A quick run down of the leading runners in both the mens and womens races features below.
Stuart Leaney: Last years champion and course record holder, Stuart also picked up the win at this years NDW50 (third fastest all-time). With a blistering marathon PR of 2:27 he comes in as the pre-race favourite.
Stuart ran home winner and new CR holder against a very strong field in 2017.
James Williams: James was fourth at the NDW100 this year and recently won the Autumn 100. As a 2:30 marathoner he has the speed to compete here but his ability on the hills is not yet clear. It will really exciting to see if he can push for the top places again as he has done twice already in 2018.
Tomasso Migliulo: The hillier the better for Tomasso. This year he's taken third at the SDW50 and third at the Eiger Ultra Trail 85km. Has lots of previous top 10 results at UK sky and mountain running events.
Neil Kirby: Our 2nd place finisher from 2016 and multiple 50 and 100 mile champion, Neil will be hoping to bounce back from DNFs at recent attempts at the distance due to various physiological issues, and put himself back on top here.
Matthew Blackburn: Lots of really solid results over the last few years, the highlights of which are a recent finish at Spartathlon in a super sub 30 hour time and a 24hr PR of 218km.
Robert Hayward; Robert leads our 50 mile Grand Slam. His consistency has been impressive this year with a 12th, 8th and 5th so far. With only a 27 minute over second place in the slam table, James Warren, he will need to have one more solid effort here.
James Warren: Chasing Robert above, James has gone 18th, 6th and 7th so far this year and will surely be looking to find that 27 minute margin for the Slam win.
Stephen Hobbs: Stephen has had a mixed year, with super top ten runs at the TP100, SDW100 and CW50, interspersed with DNFs at the NDW100 and A100. He will surely want to end the year on a high here, having finished 7th at the 2017 edition of this race.
Raymond Lanigan: Numerous wins, podiums and top tens at mainly Irish ultras in the 50km to 50 mile range across 2012 - 2016 but doesn't look like he has raced since.
Sam Anderson: 5th at Country to Capital 2018 in 5:55, 4th at the Lakes 10 Peaks Short and previous top 100 at CCC.
Wayne Sara: Hailing from Cornwall, 15th at the Arc of Attrition this year, before 3rd at Serpent Trail 50km and Crawley 12hr.
Jess Gray: Jess was our 2015 NDW50 and 2016 SDW50 Female Champion. She has also run the A100 with us and finished in a superb 16:42 for 2nd in 2016. Last year she took 7th at Lakeland 50 and this year has a 1st at Brecon Beacons 50km to her name. Previously she has also won the Ridgeway 86. It's good to see her back racing with us again.
Jess winning the SDW50 in 2016
Kit-Yi Greene: Kit-Yi has lots of great results behind her , both at our events and others. This year she was third at the TP100. She has in the past finished 4th at the SDW50, SDW100, 2nd at the Ridgeway Challenge last year and has also scooped wins at the Norfolk Ultra 100km and Peddars Way Ultra.
Amy Sarkies: 3rd at Lakeland 50 in 2017 puts Amy in high company and with an almost identical amount of elevation change here, it looks like this could suit her really well. Her only other ultra result as far as we can see however is the Northants 35 in 2016 where she came away the winner.
Karen Hacker: 3rd at Race to the King this year.
Maria Russell: Not content with the 100 mile Slam this year, Maria is one race away from finishing all 8 events with us in 2018, alongside another at least half dozen ultras. Recently with us she has run home 4th at the CW50 and 5th at the A100. She heads the 50 mile Slam table in the womens standings for 2018 by 80 minutes over Mel Horley.
A final special shout out to the wonderful Owen Delaney who starts the race and who created the wonderful illustrated race map below for us.
Follow along live from every check point via this link on race day.
We welcome a very deep starting field in both the mens and womens races for the upcoming seventh edition of the Autumn 100 (previously Winter 100). This race is perhaps the fastest of our four 100 mile courses with winning times in the mid to low 14 hour range on the mens side for the past several years. The all time womens fastest 100 mile time at our events is also held on this course, courtesy of Susie Chesher's superb 15:22 in 2017.
No doubt we will see a screaming fast start as always, we usually welcome scores of runners back around the 2:50-3:00 mark for the first of the 25 mile spurs. The race then usually shakes out on the second leg before the clear protagonists start to make themselves known over the second half. What is striking in 100 mile races is how small gaps can be in the first half and just how wide they can grow over the second. That is more evident at this race than any other as the pancake flat opening leg lulls many into a false sense of security. Look for the splits from 50-75 miles in to tell the real picture.
In the mens race there are two stand out runners with international pedigree. If the front two have their day it will be unlikely that anyone else will feature but we all know that this sport can throw up its fair share of suprises! It would be a dream to see the 14 hour barrier finally go in one of our 100s and there are two runners here that have been at or under that mark before.
Notable absentees are Mark Denby the existing course record holder and Rob Forbes who holds the Cotswold Century record and recorded a top ten at the TDS this year, both of whom have withdrawn.
James Stewart: With a 100 mile best of 13:39 at Rocky Racoon 100 in 2017, James came into this race last year off of the back of his debut GB 24 hour performance hoping for a time that would have been in the same bracket as that fine result he had out in Texas. He was plagued by stomach issues through the day and it was in fact Paul Maskell who ran home for the win, with James toughing it out for second in 15:26. This year he represented GB for a second time at the 24hr format and after a low patch in the middle hours, came home strong for a counting 244km which helped take the team to the European silver medal. He has focused on this race and now he knows the course it will be exciting to see what he can do.
Craig Holgate: A man with a racing background too long to summarise here, our Centurion Ultra Team runner has been a prodigious talent for all of his 35 year running career. The highlights are GB international vests at 100km, Ultra Trail and 24hr disciplines. He has a 100 mile best of 14:09 at the Thames Path 100 where he spent almost 30 minutes off course. He has literally dozens of wins and podiums at ultras home and abroad. After a rocky 24hr run in May he will certainly want to put this one down as a good result.
Pete Windross: Pete leads our 2018 Grand Slam standings having won the TP100 this year in 15:49 in what were fairly extreme conditions (heat) before going on to a 6th at the SDW100 and 5th at the NDW100. The flatter running seems to suit him and he'll be looking to close out the year here. His lead in the GS100 standings is an unassailable almost 10 hours in the mens division.
Max Wilcocks: Max was our 2015 TP100 champion in a time of 16:35 and a previous podium finisher at Rat Races 'The Wall', Race to the Stones 100km and our SDW100 in 2013.
Ed Knudsen: Ed came on to the scene last year and has showed a lot of promise this year. He finished a narrow second at the North Downs Way 50 in a very good 6:50 having pushed Stuart Leaney hard all day, leading the race for a large portion. He has recorded a 3:27 50km and a 4th at the TRA Ridgeway Challenge in August between then and now. This looks to be his first 100 and therefore could be a stretch but he certainly has the raw speed to compete.
John Knapp: As a V55 has an impressive resume with stand out results this year of 3rd at the Spine Race, 5th at Cape Wrath Ultra and a finish at the TDG. A 26:49 at GUCR and a sub 29hr Spartathlon show he can do the long and flat stuff too.
Steve Hobbs: A collection of top tens so far this year with a 3rd 2018 TP100, 7th 2018 SDW100 and recently 4th at the Chiltern Wonderland 50.
Tim Landon: Previous podium finisher at the TP100 and 8th at SDW100 in 2016. 100 mile best of 17:48.
Warwick Gooch: Previous Grand Slam 50 mile record holder, he can significantly better his 100 mile PB if he has a good day and run top ten.
James Williams: 4th at this years NDW100 and 1st at this years Serpent Trail 100km.
Alex Newman-Smith: First at the 2018 Wall Ultra 111km.
Nick Brenchley: 4th 10 Peaks Brecons 2018, 1st CTS Exmoor+ 2017
Mari Mauland: Mari swept the honours last year, winning three of our four 100 mile races, including the Autumn 100 in 17:28 - on her way to Grand Slam victory. This year she has had mixed results, with a super 2nd at the NDW100 and a finish at Western States countered by DNFs at the TP100 and more recently, Tooting Bec 24hr. She will no doubt be hungry to regain top honours again here.
Sharon Law: We welcome back the champion of this race all the way back in 2013, the second ever edition. She has had a long international career as a Team GB 24hr runner and has a PB over that format of a huge 226km. In the past she has won the West Highland Way Race, Glasgow to Edinburgh Double Marathon, Double Cateran Trail 110 mile and has a second place finish at the SDW100 with us also. This year she has taken home top honours at the Cateran 55.
Laura Swanton: Laura has been the most consistent female 100 mile runner of 2018 with us and heads up the Grand Slam standings in the womens division by approximately 6 hours over Rachel Fawcett. After a 2nd at the TP100, a 2nd at the SDW100 and a 3rd at the NDW100, one thing is for sure - she will want to cap the year off with a win!
Wendy Shaw: Wendy is the most prolific 100 milers we have had at our events, with 17 x 100 mile finishes with us alone. She has finished every edition of this event with a best of 17:54. She has finished on the podium at a Centurion 100, nine times and with a best of second place set here last year she will definitely want to bag her first win. This year she has represented GB over 24hrs helping to secure Team Bronze and come home first at both the Kennett and Avon, and Leeds Liverpool Canal Races.
Annabelle Stearns: Annabelle is a vastly experienced runner with a raft of wins and podiums behind her over a variety of distances. Over the last couple of years she has finished second at both the SDW100 and SDW50 (2018) but is a previous winner of the NDW50, Druids Challenge, Al Andalus and London to Brighton (trail).
Rachel Fawcett: Similar to Laura, Rachel has had a really consistent year as she has taken home 4th place in each of our other three 100 milers so far in 2018. No doubt she will want to go one better here and make it on to the podium. Something she has done before as she came home in first place at our 2017 Chiltern Wonderland 50.
Rebecca Lane: Rebecca has had a big year, with a 5th at the TP100, a 3rd at the SDW100 and a more recent win at the Chiltern Ultra 214km (the only female finisher).
Rachel Dench: 3rd at the 2018 Chiltern Wonderland 50. Winner of the 2018 Chiltern 100km.
Follow the race live from 1000 Saturday via the link here. Updates will go out from Check Points 2,4,6,8,10,12,13,14,15 and the Finish.
The third edition of the Chiltern Wonderland 50 takes place this coming Saturday, September 15th. The start field is expected to number around 250, with sixty three, 50 mile Grand Slam hopefuls looking to make this three out of three finishes - leaving the final hurdle, Wendover Woods 50 in November, to complete their 200 mile journeys.
As of Tuesday (late), the trails are in superb shape and we are expecting fast racing conditions on the day.
Below is the usual preview of those we are expecting to see challenge for top positions in both the mens and womens races.
Oliver Thorogood: The stand out runner in this years field. Oli was 2nd here last year in 7:11, quite some way back of Jon Ellis in his course record setting run of 6:38:59. But over the past year Oli has had two notable results, a win at the inaugural UTS 50 mile and a superb win at this years Lakeland 50, one of the UKs more prestigious events and one of the largest fields. What was most notable however was that his time missed out on the course record there by just two minutes. As so many of the better runners in the UK have had a go at the event, this signals for sure a step up for him and it will be exciting to see if he can go after Jons time here.
Jack Oates: Jack obviously has a lot of speed, as seen in his winning times at Salisbury 50km - 3:22 and at the Stort 30 in 3:01. He has been struggling a little with injury and this is a step up in distance for him so how he will go is still somewhat of an unknown.
Neil Kirby: We're still waiting for Neil to nail one again, after his stellar 2016 when he cleaned up at the SDW100, NDW100 and associated 50s. Fingers crossed he is at full strength here and raring to go in his usual fashion. It would be amazing to see the old Neil come out and run at his best.
Steve Hobbs: Steve has a 3rd at this years TP100 and a 7th at this years SDW100 already to his name this year, but comes in to this one on the back of a DNF at the 100km mark of the NDW100.
Ollie Stoten: Ollie has had some superb results over the years including wins at events like Country to Capital, Serpent Trail 100km and the T60 night race. He finally got his reward at one of our events, by running home 3rd at this years NDW50 and that was backed up with a podium at RTP Sahara and 10 Peaks Brecons (Long). He wil surely be looking for more of the same here.
Ollie Stoten ran his way on to the podium at this years NDW50 after a brilliant final third of the race
Warwick Gooch: Previous Grand Slam 50 record holder, he ran a 7:31 on this course for 4th when he set the record in 2016. He is in good form this year too, as he showed with a solid 7th at the 2018 NDW50.
Robert Hayward: Leads the 2018 Grand Slam standings at the moment with a 12th and then an 8th at the SDW50 and NDW50.
Andrew Platt: Andrew was 7th here last year and winner of one of the CTS events towards the end of 2017.
Amy White: Amy has started out her ultra career with a win at the 2017 Race to the King and then a 2nd at last years Wendover Woods 50. This year she has already come home second at the Race to the Tower.
Amy White running at the 2017 Wendover Woods 50
Lisa Martin: Lisa backed up a superb 7th at this years SDW50, with a 2nd at the NDW50, even after a detour in the closing miles. She will certainly be looking for a hitch free run here and another podium.
Chris Howard; Chris brings a raft of top tens and lots of experience with her into this one. She was 2nd here in the inaugural event in 2016 and this year has already clocked a 3rd at the SDW50, alongside a more recent win at the SVP100km.
Laura Hicks: Laura was 17th here last year, but has some stronger runs to her name suggesting she can go much better. She has twice won the St. Albans Stampede 12hr, once outright and was 5th at last years Autumn 100.
Follow the race live at www.centurionrunning.com/live from 0900 Saturday, timings will update from every check point and the finish.
Here we are with event number four of our 2018 race season and our second 100 miler. We have a strong field in both the mens and womens events, let's start with the women's this time. An anticipated 300 starters will set out from Winchester at 0600 on Saturday 9th June with the hope of making it to Eastbourne inside the 30 hour cut off - noon on Sunday.
Sarah Cameron: Sarah has raced with us only once before, taking second at last years NDW100 in a little over 20 hours. Living and racing in France she has many top results to her name out there with notables including a win and a third at Templiers (100km version) and a 12th at OCC amongst many others. It looks like she has two wins from two already in 2018.
Sarah Cameron at last years NDW100
Rachel Fawcett: Third here last year in 18:59. This year she has already run home fourth at the TP100. In the past she's also won our Chiltern Wonderland 50 as well as taking home thirrd in last years Green Man Ultra.
Laura Swanton: Laura impressed at last months TP100 where she ran home second. Third at last years NDW100 and fourth at Wendover Woods 50 she has also picked up the win at CTS South Devon in 2018.
Mauland: Mari dropped from the TP100 in May after suffering in the heat and she has a Western States place later this month so we're unsure if we will see her go for this one in full on race mode, but her pedigree is without question. Last year she won our Grand Slam and took home three wins at the TP100, NDW100 and A100, with only this race eluding her - she took home fourth in 19:11. We hope she is on the start line raring to go!
Mari taking home the win at last years NDW100
Sarah Sawyer: Much like Mari, Sarah has been racing recently over in Bhutan and that followed her win at the NDW50 last month so it's not clear if she will go all out here. She was sixth here in 2016.
If Sarah and Mari both come in ready to race it will be great to watch a deep field duke it out. Otherwise it looks open for the other three ladies who are all regular strong performers.
Jon Ellis: Last years Grand Slam 50 mile winner, with overall victories at SDW50, NDW50 (Course Record) and CW50, this is Jons first step up to the distance and we are fascinated to see what he can do. He's already had a good start to the year with a third place at the Highland Fling so we are hoping for a dazzling debut 100 here.
Jon running home to the victory at the 2017 SDW50
Pete Windross: Pete won the TP100 last month by a clear margin in 15:49. He was a top 10 finisher here last year too and he does seem to be getting stronger as the races and months tick by so we hope he will be in shape and recovered enough to put pedal to the metal again here.
Pete Windross running with Ed Catmur at the TP100 before going on to the win
Stellan Fries: Stellan was the man who led the 2016 SDW100 until mile 95 where he went off course just before Jevington and spent some time in the wilderness. He's back again for his third outing looking to better his PB here of 17:25.
Alistair Palmer: Alistair took home second at this years SDW50, although his day out was overshadowed by Tom Evans annihilation of the course record. He ran in that position most of the day and finished strong. He has 5 top 10s in 5 Centurion starts so he is a consistent performer.
Stephen Hobbs: 7th at the 2017 WW50 before hopping up to take third at this years TP100 in an impressive 17:55.
Ed Catmur: Four time winner at our events, Ed is slowly coming back to strength with a 25th at the TP100 this year. Hopefully he continues his rise again here.
John Melbourne: John has a depth of ultra experience now and that culimated in a terrific run for fourth at the NDW50 last month where he finished extremely strong.
Mike Ellicock: Relatively unknown Mike has a marathon PB in the 2:30s and a recent Bob Graham round finish. The only ultra we are aware of was his strong fifth at the SDW50 last year.
Charles Harpur: 1st at the 2015 SVP100km. 2nd at last years Beacons Ultra.
Jeremy Mower: Super experienced runner from Wales who amongst other things has represented Wales at the 24hr Commonwealths and has a raft of solid 40 mile/ 100km times to his name.
Follow the race via the live link on the homepage from Saturday - first update will be from QECP Check Point 2 at 22 miles and then at the following CPs: 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12.
This coming Saturday 19th May 2018 we welcome 250 runners to the 8th edition of the North Downs Way 50. Here's a quick look at some of the key runners coming to race this year.
You can follow the race live on race day via this link. Live timings will be available from all check points and the finish, with the exception of Caterham (CP5).
Neil Kirby: Returning 2016 Champion, Neil also picked up the SDW50, SDW100 and NDW100 titles that year. He is off the back of a win at the CTS Sussex in March and a DNF at the Highland Fling a few weeks ago so he will be looking to make amends here.
Stuart Leaney: 2017 Wendover Woods champ in his first 50 in a blistering course record a touch over 7 and a half hours. Stuarts sub 2:30 marathon speed means he's the quickest guy in the field and he can obviously do it on the trails too.
Ollie Stoten: King of Country To Capital 2016 when he took things to a new level winning in 5:07 for the 43 mile event. Ollie has lots of other wins and top tens to his name including a first place at CTS Exmoor already this year. He hasn't quite nailed one of our events yet and he will want to do it here.
Dudley Desborough: 8th at last years Autumn 100, 6th at the inaugural Chiltern Wonderland. Notably also a great run for 2nd at the Pilgrims Challenge last February on this very trail. Dudley has the speed to run a podium here and pick up the pieces the few ahead of him could leave behind.
John Melbourne: John has a growing list of accomplishments and finishes from around the world. He was second here in 2014 in a time of 7:47 but since then looks to have gone from strength to strength. Last year he finished at least a dozen ultras with stand out performances of 16:00 flat for the Berlin 100 and 1st place at both the Fox Ultra and the Serpent Trail 50km.
Sarah Sawyer: It's great to have Sarah back racing one of our events. In 2018 so far she has clocked 205.6km at this years Crawley 24hr for the win. Previous winner of two Racing the Planet events. Podiums at a raft of ours and other races including the 2017 TP100, 2016 Berlin 100 and WW50. Her first run out at this event. She looks to be the favourite coming in.
Lisa Martin: Lisa picked up 7th at this years SDW50 in 8:32 as well as a podium finish at the CTS Sussex event in March.
Otherwise, the ladies field looks wide open so we're looking forward to seeing some suprises on the day.
Chris Fox: Chris missed the cut off by 9 (nine) seconds at the 2015 event. He is back this year and we are looking forward to welcoming him well under the cut off this time!
Many Grand Slam hopefuls move on to Stage 2 of their journey here and the 2018 Grand Slam entrants list with a table of times will be available post race.
Our first 100 miler of the season is upon us. The 7th edition of the Thames Path 100 and an anticipated starting field of 300 will once again join us in Richmond Upon Thames with the dream of making it to Oxford within the 28 hour total cut off.
We usually see a high attrition rate at this event. As an almost entirely flat course, on paper it seems to be as easy aproposition as for a 100 mile trail race. But the flat can cause many issues later in the race to those who haven't prepared for that specifically and most notably to those who go off too fast - which is incredibly tempting on the literally pan flat paved path out of London in the early miles. We have seen some epic blow ups over the years and the classic picture of runners pacing is the old 'reverse progression run' ! It can also get very cold by the river at night and add to the slow down.
However to those with patience and strength this course represents an opportunity to run super fast times. Craig Holgate set a new Mens Course Record last year of 14:09 despite a significant detour with just 5 miles to go. On a good day it is clear that both the Mens and Womens course records could be significantly lowered and it is simply a matter of time until we see that happen.
This year, the potential for that is within the womens race which looks set to be a cracker.
Sam Amend: Returning after a year off from the race is existing course record holder Sam Amend. Sam's CV makes for quite the reading. She's run literally dozens of fast road marathons and has a best of 2:42. As a member of the Team GB 50km squad at the World Champs in Doha in 2016, she placed 7th overall. Twice a winner of the ACP 100km she has this year already been crowned British 100km Champion with a new course record. She's also picked up a win at the Gloucester 50km (3:30) and those followed her late 2017 season win and Course Record at Wendover Woods 50. It's quite clear that her own course record of 16 hours flat could be significantly bettered if she has a good race and the proposition of her winning the race overall is very real.
Therese Falk: Therese made herself known on the UK scene last year as she ran home winner of the Tooting Bec 24hr with a total of 236.8km and a 100 mile split of 15:19. Those are world class performances and came after an incredibly prolific race schedule. This year she has already bagged wins at the Bergen 100km and Undheim 100km races so she comes in with great form.
Cat Simpson: Our Ultra Team runner Cat has scored some superb results in recent years and continues to get better and better with time and experience. Last year she ran off with a breakthrough victory and a new course record at GUCR before ending the year in the same fashion at Wendover Woods, where she was just 5 minutes off of Sam's CR. This year she has already clocked a strong 2nd at Country To Capital and ran 3:03 at Brighton Marathon a few weeks ago.
Mari Mauland: This will be Mari's third outing at this race. In 2016 she was second to Sam, before last year going on to the win in 16:55. She also went on to win the NDW100 and A100 on route to setting a new Womens Grand Slam record. Following that she went on to Bislett 24hr and recorded a solid 218km total.
Leanne Rive: Leanne is an ever present at the SDW100 where she has scored a handful of top 5 finishes. She's also finished TDG and a host of other ultras and always turns in a solid performance. This year she's picked up a 2nd at the Thames Trot already so it's clear she can do it on the flat too, and this will not doubt be another solid performance from her.
Rachel Fawcett: Rachel picked up the win at last years Chiltern Wonderland 50, which followed a podium finish at the South Downs Way 100 where she notably ran home one place ahead of Mari. She'll be looking for another strong finish at what looks to be just her second ever 100 miler.
Laura Swanton: Laura took home 3rd at least years NDW100 before bagging 4th at Wendover Woods 50. This year she has already taken home top honours at CTS South Devon Ultra so again looks to be coming in on good form.
Rebecca Lane: Rebecca ran home 8th at last years SDW100 and has twice won the St Peters Way 45 mile over in Essex.
By contrast, the mens field for this race looks completely wide open. Whilst there are some solid runners amongst the bunch it's hard to see anyone getting anywhere near record pace and as such it could make for a very exciting race. As usual it's likely this course will reward early patience...
Barry Miller: Barry has been getting better and better as years go on and he could be set for a breakthrough result here. In previous years he's finished both our Grand Slam, the US Grand Slam and has other huge finishes at races such as Viking Way (win), GUCR (2nd) and Spartathlon. In amongst it all, his road marathon time has been coming down and he's recently picked up an excellent early season win at Country to Capital. His 100 mile PB of 17:14 is due for a shattering at some point and this could be it.
Sean Brosnan: Sean joins us from Ireland for this race and over the last couple of years has some albeit shorter, significant performances to his name. Last year he won the Mourne Way Ultra (50 mile) in 8:02 as well as the Connermara International Marathon (63km in 4:22), a race that he also went on to win already this year in 4:33. With that kind of speed he has the potential to go very well here, it'll be about whether he can hold endurance wise in the second half.
Kristian Morgan: 3rd at last years NDW100 it looks like Kristian has been racing a lot, with subsequent finishes at TDG, 20th at the ROUT 100 and already a 2nd place this year at the TNF Thailand 100km. If he can come in rested he is a clear contender for top honours here.
Peter Windross: Peter looks good for a strong finish here and could well challenge overall, after an incredibly solid 2017 during which he finished the Slam, putting in 3 x 18 hour performances in the first three 100s before setting a significant 100 mile PB in the Autumn 100 of 16:29.
Keith Burrows: 6th at last years SDW100 in his first 100 came after solid early season performances at the SDW50 and NDW50 where he cracked the top ten. With a win at the Humanity Direct Amersham 50km already this season he will be looking for more of the same here no doubt.
Alex Whearity: This years Thames Trot winner has a string of solid finishes behind him including what looks to be a 100 mile PB sub 18 hours at the A100 a couple of years ago. I would bet that he can better that significantly here with his increased speed and experience.
Alistair Watson: Alistair's consistency is his biggest asset. In recent years he's had a 2nd at the NDW100 and last year came home 6th in the Autumn 100 in a time of 17:17.
Ed Catmur: Notable mention for Ed who still wrestling with injury will toe the line again here. Past champion and still NDW100 course record holder we hope he can rekindle some of his magic.
Race start is 1000 Saturday 5th May and you can follow the race live on the day via the Live Link that will appear on the home page. Good luck to all of our runners and huge thanks to our 100+ volunteers out on course.
The 2018 season gets underway on Saturday April 7th with the sixth edition of the South Downs Way 50. 400 runners are expected to line up , each with the goal of making it to the track in Eastbourne for their glory lap to finish within the 13 hour maximum cut off.
On paper, this is our fastest 50. With course records that have held firm for a number of years now. Victor Mounds astonishing 5:53 in which he led from the gun in time trial fashion has been seemingly untouchable since. During 2016 and 2017, nobody came within 30 minutes of his course record. For the ladies, our Centurion Ultra Team star Edwina Sutton still holds the course best of 7:09 from back in 2014. If ever there was a starting field capable of threatening such seemingly rock solid records, it could perhaps be this however.
As usual, here is a quick spin through of the likely favourites for the mens and womenes races. Starting with the womens race:
Sarah Morwood: Sarah holds the second fastest time on this course, with a 7:19 back in 2014. Between 2013 and 2015 she also won a whole host of other events. Some of her accolades include wins at SDW100, Cotswold Way Century, Autumn 100, Thames Path 100, Race to the Stones, 24 heures de Pleuren and many others. Subsequent to that she has endured a rollercoaster ride, having had a major bike accident in early 2016 she quite literally had to start again. In 2017 she came back stronger than ever, winning the SDW100 for a second time and picking up victories at Eco Trail Oslo 80km and Dartmoor 50 before going on to a top ten finish at Spartathlon and then the icing on the cake, re-selection for the GB Trail Team where she will represent her country in Portugal in May. Already in 2018 she has turned in a 7th place at the Hong Kong 100km against a world class field. Whilst this is a stepping stone event on to the Champs, she will certainly want to stamp her mark here. For more info on Sarah's story, here is a link to the British Ultrarunning Podcast Episode featuring an interview with her.
Sarah on her way to victory at the 2017 SDW100
Kim Cavill: It is great to see Kim making it down to race one of our events. Those who are familiar with the Hardmoors and Lakeland scenes further north will recognise Kim's name. In recent years she has won the Hardmoors 55 and last year took 2nd in the Lakeland 50 in a superb time of 8:57.
Annabelle Stearns: Annabelle is a super experienced ultrarunner with a really impressive level of consistency that spans the last decade. Past winner of races such as London to Brighton (Trail), Al Andalus, Druids Challenge and our North Downs Way 50, she has actually improved signifcantly at the longer stuff in recent years. She has a best on this course of 7:46 for 4th in 2014 which puts her 7th on the all time list and two 2nd place finishes in the SDW100 from the last three years. She obviously loves this trail!
Charley Jennings: Charley is our reigning 50 mile Slam record holder with a cumulative time of 37:30 for the four events set last year, where she took 12th, 3rd, 2nd and 7th in each of the four races. It will be great to see her try to step it up again in 2018.
Charley at the 2017 NDW50
Alex Coomber: 2nd here in 2015 with a 7:53 and a 3rd place at the NDW50 a year later put Alex well in contention for a top ten finish here.
Mandy Regenass: Mandy took home 2nd place here last year in a time of 7:54, winning her Age Category in the process. She recorded a string of top 5 finishes in ultras ranging from 50km to 50 miles in 2015 and it's clear she could well be in contention again here albeit against what on paper looks to be a deeper field than the 2017 event.
Christine Howard: Whilst Christine may not have the raw speed to challenge for top honours she will be pushing for a top 10 here. With a best of 6th in this event back in 2013, the inaugural race, she has gone on to win the Downslink Ultra as well as second at the 2016 Chiltern Wonderland 50 and 4th at the Stour Valley Path 100km.
Tom Evans: If ever there seemed to be a clear favourite coming in to an event, it would be here. Tom Evans burst on to the scene in late 2016 and in 2017 established himself as a world class athlete. With a 3rd in the MDS, a 4th at the Eiger 101 and then a 4th at CCC in August, Tom immediately put UK mens ultrarunning back on the international map. With seemingly little experience at the long stuff, he has seemed to just step in to the role. Recently signing to Hoka One One and becoming a full time athlete will hopefully allow Tom to go on to take things to an even higher level in the future. This race, much as in the case of Sarah in the womens, is a stepping stone to his first outing in a GB national vest at the Trail World Champs in May. But after his win at the The Coastal Challenge in February where he bested CCC 2017 Champion Hayden Hawks by a scant four minutes, it's clear that there is no such thing as a training race for Tom. He will want to run his best on what is truly his home turf, having grown up in Eastbourne. It will be truly exciting to see what he can deliver here. For more info on Toms story, here is a link to the British Ultrarunning Podcast Episode featuring an interview with him.
Ian Hammett: Ian came on to the scene a few years ago and has built up a solid and consistent resume since. A fast road marathon has meant he has brought a good pace to his trail running and amongst his best results was a 3rd at this event last year in 6:49. Along the way he's also run home 2nd in a sub 16 hour time at the SDW100 and taken home victories in the Wall and the SVP100km. Last year he also completed Spartathlon in 28:36 proving he can go in to the super long too.
Warwick Gooch: In 2016, Warwick set a new 50 Slam record with 9th, 4th, 4th and 6th in the four events. 9th at the SDW50 in a time of 7:24 is hopefully something he can improve on this time. His year so far contained an excellent 9th placed finish at the 100 mile Arc of Attrition so we will see how his recovery has gone here.
Nick Greene: Nick has an incredibly consistent record on this course which he will be looking to continue here with 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th places in years gone by. With a best of 7:03 he will surely be looking to crack the 7 hour barrier this time out.
Alistair Palmer: 8th here last year before going on to 7th place at the NDW50 and WW50 it will be interesting to see if he can step it up here to compete for a top 5 against the bigger starting field.
Tommasso Migliu: Tommasso looks to be somewhat of a wild card, simply because this race falls on the lower end of the difficulty spectrum and the higher end of the pace spectrum that what he seems to be used to. His resume includes some extremely impressive results such as 5th at the V3K, 6th at Lakes Sky Ultra and 2nd at the Brecon Beacons 10 Peaks short, so hopefully he can turn his rugged mountain pace in to some flatter faster pace to challenge here.
Follow the race online at the website here on race day.
Cat Simpson joined the Centurion Running Ultra Team this year. Team mate Debbie Martin-Consani talks to Cat about her debut in the yellow shirt, win at WW50 and plans for 2018.
1) Your WW50 win was a great end to a great year! What first got you started running?
Thank you! I think it was quite a boring reason like wanting to stay fit for free, without using gyms, and running a few miles to do so, then entering 10ks which became half marathons which became marathons, then it spiralled out of control a bit. The fact that my husband and Dad are also runners probably fuelled the flames too. I also love travelling and running has always been an excuse to explore the UK's trails and national parks, and see some European cities. I now run with local club Fulham RC but must admit I'm a bit of a lone wolf for the majority my training - I love running with friends but also quite like my own company and don't mind being out for hours on my own. Hopefully I don't sound like a complete weirdo saying that, but I think that's been quite beneficial in long ultras because I can hold great conversations with myself.
2) What have been your top five running highlights?
Beating my husband's marathon PB by one second - the funniest bit wasn't beating him, but the fact he genuinely though it'd intentionally gone out to beat him by such a small margin.
The finish line of GUCR - there were a lot of tears, I needed two people to carry me to the car, then when I got home I went straight to bed and didn't move for about three days.
Running Autumn 100 last year, disappearing to the toilet straight afterwards because I felt rough, then coming out to overhear my Dad telling someone I was planning to do GUCR next, which was the last thing on my mind at the time.
Telling James after the first lap of WW50 that I didn't think the hills were that bad, then getting my arse spanked by them on the final two laps.
Joining the Centurion yellow jersey gang. True story.
Cat on her way to 2nd place at the 2016 South Downs Way 100
3) Your GUCR win could be seen a game charger for you, do you think that has made you mentally stronger?
For me, it's more about wanting something a lot than having a lot of mental strength - that's why I I don't race a lot because it stresses me out - the training, the tapering, the prep, the recovery. I'd rather target a couple of significant races a year than do 10 smaller ones. I spent 7 months in the lead up to GUCR just solely focussing on that and I really enjoyed getting stuck into the training and doing stuff like recceing bits of the course. I know a lot of people will do 50 or 100 mile races in training for something like GUCR but that just would never have worked for me. I also had a good base from doing SDW100 and A100 in 2016, so had a few weeks off after A100 then got stuck into GUCR training. I went into the race with a sub-30 hour plan, but wondered if the CR was achievable - having never run over 100 miles before though I wasn't sure how my legs would fare. I was hoping to clear the 100 mile point in about 19 hours, but made it in around 17.5 and once I realised the CR might be within reach, it was just a race against myself to get to Little Venice (with the help of my wonderful pacers who were incredibly accommodating of the fact I didn't really want much chat and kept stopping to be sick). With about six miles to go, I was completely broken and realised I could walk it in (well, it was more of a ridiculous looking hobble) and still make it in under 28 hours. The result was definitely a bit of a surprise but I think the course is one that's eminently runnable and potentially fast if you can just keep moving forwards and not focus too much on the fact it's an EFFING long way.
Cat post GUCR - Photo c/o Susie Marsden
4) You’ve have a good few marathons times this year, do you think marathon training helps with ultra-running?
Yes, absolutely - to be honest I think they're one and the same in a lot of ways - ultra-training is really just marathon training with a few long back-to-back weekends thrown in. I think it can be easy to make the mistake of assuming for ultras you have to do all your training at one pace (ie slowly) but I think it's good to do a bit of speedwork, even if it's just for variety and you're not training for a fast marathon. Breaking the three hour mark for a marathon has been a long standing goal of mine but it's always felt way out of reach, so it was nice to get a little bit closer to that this year. The big mileage weeks I was running for GUCR training (80-100 miles) meant I could hold the required marathon pace without dying on my arse for the last 5 miles, as tends to happen.
(NB: Cat’s too modest to mention her 3:06 marathon PB)
5) Any favourite sessions or cross-training tips?
The only sessions that give me the fear are long tempo runs - otherwise I like it all - roads, hills, speedwork (well, sometimes), easy runs... it's all about variety. Particularly, I've grown to really like hills sessions, as it's kind of cheating at speedwork and you're using different muscle groups so in a way it counts as cross training, which gets me off the hook for doing zero strength and conditioning work too. Living down south means what I class as a hill might be different to northerners, but there are some good continuous 1k stretches on the North Downs Way which do the job, and fortunately most other Londoners haven't discovered them yet so my Strava CRs are safe for the time being.
6) WW50 is gaining the reputation of being a fairly tough course. How would you describe it? And what was your approach to racing it?
It was tough, but ultimately it's a really runnable course. It's really similar to the North Downs Way - soft under foot, woody, and the laps never really felt like laps. It was definitely out of my comfort zone which was why I chose it, but the ascents are all short and sharp and there are plenty of gradual ascents and descents. It's definitely not asking to be made into a 10-lap 100 miler though...
Cat descending during her 2017 Wendover Woods 50 Win
7) Your Dad is a bit of a legend. Do you inspire each other? Who eats the most on Christmas Day? And who would win in a beer-off?
He is a legend, and he can out-drink me too, despite being shorter than me these days 😉. He's great on the crew side of things and always pushes me a bit but never in an annoying way - he just has 'the look' that only a Dad can have that you know means you need to get your arse in gear and stop faffing around. He's a brilliant runner and I'm really looking forward to reciprocating by crewing him for his first 100 next year (although I can't drive so we've still got the finer detail to work out for that one).
8) What’s your usual racing nutrition plan (and the reality)
The plan and the reality are definitely different for this one - I'm rubbish at eating and just don't enjoy force-feeding myself on long races. I'm supported by Mountain Fuel and rely on their Extreme Energy Fuel which is basically calories/sugar and electrolytes in a drink. I also use their recovery drinks (like choc milk) during races to get some protein and fat in, and baby food in squeezy pouches tends to form the bulk of my race nutrition too, plus fruit and mars bars. During GUCR I survived on caramel stroopwaffels (your 10 for £1.50 supermarket variety) which were great race fuel.
9) What are you plans for 2018?
The S word! I may have told a few people after GUCR that I though 145 miles was further than humans were really designed to run, but hopefully that's all been forgotten about because I'm planning to do Spartathlon. I'll also be doing the very fine TP100. I've had my eye on a 24 hour race for many years now so if one fits in the diary with Sparta plans then that'll be in there, but I may hold out for Tooting 24 another year.
10) If you could only ever race one more race, which one would you choose?
I would say something really lofty here to make myself look good but my Dad will read this and expect me to do it, so I need to be realistic. If I could never run again then it'd have to be a multi-dayer to make the most of the experience. Maybe something like Dragon's Back. Otherwise, Western States 100 is definitely a race I'd like to do one day.