This is the first of a three part blog post about ultrarunning in 2013. This part focuses on UK Ultrarunning Performances of the Year. The second part will focus on the top 10 male and female performances in Centurion events in 2013. The final part will look at our ultra team and fast forward to what's happening on the race scene in 2014.
In the US, Ultra Running Magazine has been going since the 1980s and quickly established itself as the authority on results and reports for all US ultra distance events. Whilst the sport has exploded in recent times, Ultra Running's UPOY (Ultra Performance of the Year) and UROY (Ultra Runner of the Year), remain the most presitgious honours bestowed to North American Ultra distance athletes. The awards can be handed only to North American Runners though they do allow residents to be included, so that UK runners like Joe Grant, Ian Sharman and Nick Clark are all eligible for awards.
UK Run Ramles, otherwise know as Profeet's Richard Felton made the jump last year to polling for UK UROY and UPOY, a move that was welcomed. The difference with Ultra Running Magazine is that they have a very well established board of judges drawn from all areas of the sport and who's opinions are greatly respected. Between them they vote for their individual picks and proceed from there to the awards. I'd like to see something similar done here in the UK.
The below is my own individual perspective. I have absolutely no qualification to judge these athletes and I will undoubtedly have missed off mind blowing performances by UK runners by the handful. That's the difference between one individual and a committee. There is still no universal publication of results for Ultra Distance races and we are still a ways off from one central source where all results are fielded. DUV statistik leads the way and the hard work the guys over there have done is incredible. As the database grows this has become the go to place to check out other athletes historical results, much like the power of ten here in the UK or Ultrasignup in the US. Long may this growth continue.
So finally, before I start, please go wild with comments for who has been missed and who deserves recognition that I haven't included. This, as with all of my pre race previews, comes from my own tracking of the sport in the UK only, so try to hold back on criticism for information sorely lacking :) I've included non-UK resident UK athletes. In my opinion that's the way it should be done.
Steve way, Stockholm 100k:
UK 100k running has fallen by the way side in recent times. In recent years, we have struggled as a nation to produce athletes capable of going under the 7hr mark, where in days gone by the benchmark was a full 40 minutes less than this. Finally it seems we have an athlete who can bring back the glory days and begin to compete for the podium at the Worlds. As a sub 2:20 marathoner making his first foray in to ultras, Steve Way is probably the most exiciting prospect out there and his first effort in Stockholm this summer was electrifying to follow as he blazed his way to a 6:40, the 5th fastest UK 100km runner of all time.
Ian Sharman, Leadville 100 & Grand Slam:
THE Ian Sharman has in my opinion taken another step towards becoming the best of the best, in 2013. With a prolific level of racing in the past including 100s of marathons and ultras, he began fine tuning his training towards specific and more elevated goals three years ago and hasn't looked back since. Performances prior to 2013 including his 6:01 at Comrades and his 12:44 at Rocky Raccoon 100, have been, for me, the most outstanding runs he has had to date. With 3 Western States 100 Top 10 finishes behind him, he decided to embark on the adventure of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in the US this summer. The drama that unfolded as Ian raced the overall record for the 4 x 100 milers, as well as compatriot Nick Clark, was something to behold. In a summer where he banked his 4th consecutive WS Top 10 and a strong Vermont 100 just three weeks apart, he then went and ran Leadville in a way that I simply would never have predicted he could have. I spoke to him the week prior to the race and his goal was to win the race. That wasn't something born out of a big ego, but out of confidence in his ability, something that is inherent in many of the very best in the sport. He raced through the first 13 miles of Leadville in 1st place, I was surprised, the runners behind him undoubtedly were too, and promptly put any concerns about how the altitude would affect him out of the back door as he made the turn at Winfield and ploughed through the other 800 runners still headed outbound to mile 50. After the event he described the final 13 miles as the most painful he'd ever experienced. The threat of Nick from behind, the monotony of that final lakeside path, the will to better the Grand Slam record and to win the race outright, drove him to become the third fastest runner ever over the course. With the quality of athletes that have shown up to run Leadville in it's long history, this for me, puts his result up there with his Comrades and Rocky efforts as one of the best trail 100s ever run by a British athlete. As he went on to Wasatch and finished 2nd to Nick, he broke the existing Grand Slam record in a time which I think will stand for a long while to come. But for me, his Leadville was one of the outstanding runs in the US this summer, irrespective of the other 3 100s he flew through around it.
Nick Clark, Wasatch Front 100:
Nick, like Ian Sharman, has been exiled from the UK for some time. His family are in Kent and my hope is that one day he will run the NDW100. In the meantime, Nick still calls Colorado home and has been one of the most consistent runners on the US scene over the 100 mile distance for a number of years. THis year he pushed Ian all the way in the Slam, but excelled himself by taking the win at Wasatch in his final race of the 4.
Marco Consani, Tooting Bec 24hr:
Marco is Mr humble. For years he has watched his wife Debbie run world class performances over the 24hr distance, supporting Team GB and quietly going about the business of becoming one of the best Ultra distance trail runners in the UK. This summer he finished 2nd in the WHW Race, in a time that would have won it most any other year, but was bettered by Paul Giblin who is also mentioned in this post. Marco decided to try his hand at a 24hr race in September, with the roles reversed and Debs supporting him this time around. The GB 24hr team qualifying standard was at the time, 231km. Marco knew this was do-able, in fact he went out with a plan not just to better this but to record a world class effort. He did exactly that. Rattling off 8 minute mile after 8 minute mile, he shattered the 15hr mark, running 14:31 for the first 100 miles. He went on to hold a steady effort all of the way to the finish, to record one of the best 24hr totals in recent years of 154 miles, the best of 2013 by any British runner and put himself as our new number 1. All in his first 24hr event.
Ed Catmur, North Downs Way 100:
The North Downs Way 100 is in my opinion, the toughest of our 4 Centurion 100 milers. Whilst the overall elevation change isn't great with just under 10,000feet of climbing, the climbs present in short sharp and very steep bursts. Furthermore on top of gates and stiles to negotiate, the chop and change in the underfoot conditions from chalk, to rock, to grass, to tarmac and everything in between, do a huge number on breaking a runners rhythm, not to mention the fact that the course runs a few miles long and that section after Detling.... well you have to see it for yourself. I always felt we would see someone run a sub 17 on the course in the near future. As standards in UK runners rise, that was a possibility. I didn't see a sub 16 coming unless a world class 100 mile athlete decided to make the trip over. In an epic to and fro this year, Anthony Forsyth pushed Ed to a 15:44 or sub 9:30 minute miling over the full distance. Anthonys performance would have merited an appearance on here on it's own, but with no crew and no fuss, Ed ran that rare combination of all out, yet within himself all day and recorded one of the best 100 mile performances on UK soil this year. For me, Ed's race here won't be fully understood until time gives us the perspective to look back and compare this effort against years of attempts and other winning times by top level athletes. The truth is, much like Dan Dohertys UTSW of recent times, this run could turn out to be even more special than it already seems.
This has to be the most under appreciated run of 2013. The Fling has had a history of attracting this countrys very best. Jez Bragg, Andrew James, Terry Conway, Paul Giblin, Scott Bradley - just some of the names that have thrown down over the many years this race has been in existence. Lee Kemp's Course Record 7:02 this year was significantly faster than any of those athletes before him, and was enough to put him well ahead of a who's who Top 10 of UK ultrarunning this year, including but not limited to many other names on this list (Ricky, Marco, Paul for a start). Much like Dakota Jones breaking Matt Carpenter records in the US, this was a game changing run and one which strangely seemed to fly a little under the radar.
Ricky Lightfoot, World Trail Championships 2013:
Ricky became World Trail Running Champion in Wales this July, not just winning the 77km race outright in 5:36, but destroying the competition by over 10 minutes. Whilst this performance made him world champion, a result that quite obviously speaks for itself. Craig Holgate described the course afterwards at not having a single flat secion and with temps hitting 27 degrees, put Rickys peformance out there as one he felt would be hard to comprehend by anyone not out there on the course.
Paul Giblin, WHW race:
For me, this was the most outstanding ultra distance run on UK soil in 2013. In 2012, we stood at the sports centre at the end of the WHW race, to see if Terry Conway would come in inside of the course record 15:44. He destroyed himself to come in inside of it and ranked it as an even better performance than his epic and renowned sub 20hr Lakeland 100 Course Record. Paul took another 32 MINUTES off of that time (15:07). In the UK, we don't have too many races like this, with a deep history of incredible competition and lasting performances to compare against. This is one of the truly classic UK ultras on one of our greatest trails. Much like Tim Olson's 14:46 at WSER in 2012, this was a game changing performance. Paul redefined what is possible on this route. Having finished 2nd to Terry in 2012 and run a Winter WHW later that year (where his retinas froze), Paul obviously knew it like the back of his hand, and had the confidence to go out at a pace that most could not have sustained even as far as the first CP, Drymen at 13 miles. He ran fearless and executed it flawlessly, breaking only when he arrived at Beinglas before the CP had even opened (losing a few minutes) The brilliant Q&A he wrote afterwards gives more of an insight in to how he did it and what it took. What amazing things does he have in store for the future. I hope he goes on to race some of the other bigger global 100s and show us the level of class he displayed here.
Robbie Britton, Petzl South Downs Way 100:
Robbie smashed the Petzl SDW100 this year in a time of 15:43, beating the remainder of the field by over an hour and lowering the course record by 80 minutes. In doing so he scooped the first place pay check of £500 put up by Petzl. In a young race, again this performance can't really be fully understood. What's without doubt is that the time, on a course with 13,000 feet of climbing is world class. What makes this performance stand out for me, and what makes Robbie the most outstanding young prospect on the UK scene at the moment, is that instead of backing off and securing an easy win, Robbie raced himself and the clock all the way to the track. Paced by Paul Navesey, he put his foot on the gas from the gun and didn't let go for a second. His drive and determination not just to win but to race the best race he could was what makes this shine beyond the incredible time.
Ben Abdelnoor, Lakeland 50:
The Lakeland 50/100 has quickly established itself at the pinnacle of UK Ultra Running Events. Excellent organisation, stunning and challenging courses and some incredible performances have set them aside as must do events. Ben ran a 7:39 bettering the course record by 7 minutes and winning on the day by over 40. Again, the quality of this performance is both against the competition on the day but more so against those that have raced this course before and know how brilliant a time like that is on a course like the Lakeland 50.
Paddy Robbins, Spartathlon:
Mr Grand Union this year turned out what was for me, the best result of his running career to date, one which has included multiple wins/ CRs at the longest non-stop races we have here in the UK. After 4 Grand Union victories including his Course Best of 25:37 and a win at the Viking Way last year (as well as numerous world class GB 24hr performances), Paddys 27:09 at this years Sparta was the stand out long performance of 2013 by a UK runner. Paddy rolled out of the gate at Sparta in his trademark fashion, running very easy and allowing 3/4 of the field to gallop off into the distance, including yours truly. His metronomic pace has become a thing of legend. Whilst most fade dramatically over the distance, Paddy is somehow able to keep a flat even pace going from beginning to end. This skill set is almost unique in races of the length of spartathlon. Simply put, his second half race splits are unmatched by any other runner. Cruising past me at mile 65ish, he went on to record a nigh on even split for a race where almost all of the climbing (8000 feet) comes in the second 76 miles, for a 7th overall and finally put in a Sparta effort akin to the golden days when UK runners were pushing for the podium/ outright wins in one of the worlds classic races.
Danny Kendall, MdS:
Danny has become somewhat of an MdS specialist in recent years. The fact of desert racing is, that the more you run them the better your race management becomes, in an event format where race management is so crucially important. Gear, nutrition, hydration, sleep, body temperature management, recovery, electrolyte balance. These are some of the many things that contribute to success in desert races beyond pure fitness. Dannys times this year have been top end all the way from cross country through road marathons and on to ultras. But his MdS this year, 21:46 got a British athlete in to the top 10 overall for the first time, ever. A combination of brilliant running, brilliant race management and superb fitness.
Iain Ridgeway, JFK 50:
The JFK 50 mile is the oldest ultra in the US. In years gone by it's mix of Appalachian Trail start and blazing fast towpath second half, have brought in some epicly quick times, this year was no exception as Zach Miller blazed a 5:38 for the win. In 2011, Dave Riddles 5:40 (since bettered by Max Kings 5:34) was enough to win him US UPOY. This year, a Brit went over and much like Ian Sharman last year (and ellie greenwood on the ladies side) ran a blistering race and put the UK on the US map so to speak. Whilst this performance wasn't a win, or a Course Record I've included it as it was brilliant to see a UK based runner go over and throw down a 4th place at one of the US's most prestigious events, something that happens all too infrequently. Any sub 6 hr 50 deserves recognition and Iains 5:57 was exceptional.
Lizzie Wraith, Lakeland 100:
Working the Boot aid station at this years Lakeland 100, we had a chance to see Lizzie Wraith come through as first lady, in a mind boggling early pace, looking supremely comfortable in her (for lakeland) lightweight Salomon S-labs, and wondered if perhaps, like watching Lizzy Hawker in her early UTMB days, we were either witnessing something truly special or a truly unsustainable early pace. It turned out that we were witnessing the former. Rory Bosio ran, for me, the oustanding world female performance this year at UTMB, gaining 7th overall and taking hours off of the CR. Lizzie's Lakeland performance whilst not on Rorys level was similar to it in many ways. Running in a 24:15 and taking 4hrs off of the CR and finishing 8th overall. What more is there to say.
Sharon Law, World 24hr:
On her way to 226km at the world 24hs in Steenbergen in May, Sharon set new Scottish 200km and 24hr records. Her total earned her 3rd in the Europeans (held concurrently). A huge performance, a PB and good enough to help secure the silver medal for the GB Team.
Joanna Zakrezewski, World Trail Champs:
Similar to Ricky Lightfoots effort at the WTC, Joanna did the UK proud, coming in 4th female clocking 7:01 overall. On any given day, a 7:01 over a 77km course would be a phenomenal effort, but with the elevation change and heat on the day, this was an exceptional run. Joanna is no stranger to epic performances on a world level but this trail performance added to her 7:41 for 2nd at the World 100k's in 2011.
Sue Harrison, European 100km Champs:
Sue posted third overall at the European 100k's this past April, clocking a 7:48 for the distance, placing her 4th fastest on the UK ultra list. Again, in comparison with male performances, Sue has put herself on the map in a very similar way to Steve Way, with this only her second attempt at the distance. Clearly we have much more exciting times ahead in the future of UK 100km running.
Jean Beaumont, Petzl South Downs Way 100:
Jean rolled through this years SDW100 like the world class athlete she is. In a very similar race to Robbie's equivalent overall win, Jean put almost 2 hrs in to second place. No stranger to 100 mile trail wins having previously held the Course Records at the Northburn 100 in NZ and the Winter 100, Jean smashed her trail PB and ran a time of 16:56 good enough for 3rd overall and walked away with the prize purse in the process. Epic Run.
Mimi Anderson, GUCR Double:
This is the one performance included in either list which has nothing to do directly with time. There was uproar in the US a couple of years back when Jenn Pharr-Davies' outright Appalachian Trail record was recorded as female UPOY, and in the whole I agree with the condemnation for that selection on a number of levels. That being said, how do you give the credit a performance on that scale deserves, without mentioning it alongside the best race performances? When Mimi began running backwards down the GUCR course two days before this years official race, most thought that she had finally bitten off more than she could chew. Her aim was to run the 145 miles to the start, in under 36 hours and then return to finish the official race after a short night of rest. 300 miles (almost) back to back. Not only did Mimi finish, she made the initial journey in 31:50 and came back in a time of 36:49, 8 hours inside of the cut off and good enough for 5th female. Truly a mind blowing individual effort.
Who gets your vote? Please comment at the bottom.
I may live to regret saying this, but right now the forecast for the WInter 100 looks good. Cold but good. That being said runners who are used to long distances in British winter and mountains at anytime will have prepared for conditions where strength wins out over speed - Richie Cunningham and Jean Beaumont epitomised that last year as they gutted out incredible times in rough weather whilst much 'faster' runners fell by the way side. It's often those without any time goals, racing the field and not the clock that persevere in poor condtions. Faster running this year will make for a fascinating race. Conditions often dictate the times in trail racing, often as much or more than an atheletes ability on the day.
Here's a preview of the front runners in both the mens and womens fields. As always, this is off the top of my head with very little research behind it so please feel free to add others using the comments field at the bottom.
Overall we have an anticipated start field of 95 with 9 x 2013 Grand Slammers going for number 4 and many Centurion Veterans returning. No doubt there will be some stories of huge strength in adversity all the way to the final cuts as is always the case with 100 mile trail events, particularly at this time of year.
For me there is one stand out runner this year, Ed Catmur. Ed, for me, would be UK UROY (others like Ricky Lightfoot and Craig Holgate have also had stellar years) but it's likely that most are unaware of his achievements in 2013, because he doesn't have a blog or twitter account. So excuse the lamenting on his achievements here but in light of the term UK UROY being used around runners achieving purely quantity over quality Ed has struck the balance of both. Ed will be looking for his third 100 mile win of 2013 at this event. He won (actually the only finisher) of a Saxon Shore 100 earlier in the year, before going on to destroy the NDW100 course record in one of the most outstanding performances of 2013, anywhere in the UK. He did it without any crew or support just off of his own back. Finally after a few years of knocking on the door of something incredible, he put the pieces together and nailed it. Amongst those things he won the Milton Keynes & Welsh Marathons and just set a PB at Bournemouth finishing 8th with a 2:34. This level of road speed in a marathon matches closely with the likes of Ian Sharman and Craig Holgate who are pushing the front line in UK ultra distance running. Believe me when I say that Ed is right up there with the best and would be competitive in most bigger/ global field 100s right now. His skill set is not limited to the road and marked trail. He's also an orienteer which is a skill that assisted him in his wins at the Saunders MM and the Ultra Tour of the Peak district. The Saunders is not a small time event, a certain Lizzy Hawker traditionally used it as a build up to many of her UTMB wins. If conditions are dry and cold as they look likely to be, Ed can go under Craigs Centurion 100 mile best of 15:11 here, I have no doubt.
Luke Ashton is an enigma. I hope he doesn't mind me saying that earlier in the year his promise as he took 2nd at a muddy, wet and cold Thames Path 100 which was a break through effort in his first 100 miler, waned away a little as he raced a lot and turned to running many events barefoot which brought down some of his overall times. If Luke comes to the Winter 100 with his game face on, he could run Ed hard, particularly if he can reduce the time he spends in CPs down, it's just a case of which Luke we'll see on the day.
Warwick Gooch stands tall amongst other men as winner of the 2012 Caesars Camp 100. In awful conditions he made it around well under the 24hr mark and jogged a comfy 50 miler there this year looking relaxed and in control. He will feature from the off.
Dave Ross, marathon man. Dave has had a great year running sub 7:30 at Comrades for the second year in a row. More importantly perhaps he managed to get his Western States monkey off of his back and finished in a great time, before building on that to a superb NDW100 run under the 18 hour mark. Alongside of those things he consistenly races marathons under the 3hr mark and recently set a PB of 2:51, something that means a lot to a man with 300 marathons under his belt. Dave's undoing will only be in his own pacing. If he can resist running the first 25 too hard he may wipe hourse off of his NDW100 time. At the TP100 he went off of the front and came unstuck in the last 20 fading to 6th in the cold. Can he pace himself from the start and hold on for another PB here? I reckon so.
Matt Winn Smith had a sterling 100 mile effort at the TP100 in 2012. As a triathlete and ultra runner he holds all the right attributes to succeed, planning, strength, speed and will have a strong race here no doubt.
Eduard Egelie ran his first 100 in 2012 at this event. He has improved week on week over the past 12 months running a very strong NDW100 for 6th overall and is prepared better than ever this time. Top 5 runner with podium potential.
Ronnie Staton produced the UPOY of this year under some careful coaching from someone who knows what they are doing ;) He ran the 200 mile Wainwright Coast to Coast route non-stop in 56 hours. I can't begin to describe what an incredible effort that is. With that behind him and having run this event and numerous other 100s before, in a mind game there is no winner against this man.
Sharon Law must sit top of the pile as the Scottish 24hr record holder, taking 8th overall at the World 24s this year with 226km clocked. She's no stranger to success on the trails either. Her sub 9hr Highland Fling time being one of many.
My Scottish contact tells me also that Charlotte Black, on route down from the Shetland Islands for this race, is one to watch. With some strong 100km performances behind her she will hopefully light up the competition here.
Wendy Shaw is 2nd overall in the Grand Slam stakes and podiumed at all 3 of our Centurion 100s so far this year. That's no mean feat. Always solid, always working and getting faster Wendy will want this for numerous reasons. Look for her to push through strong in the latter stages.
Mary Heald surprised everyone including herself it seems by winning the NDW100 this year. Mary DNFd the winter 100 at mile 83 last year, and has since gone on to put herself within 100 miles of the grand slam. Quite the comeback. Can she do it again here?
I fully admit that I've run out of time to give the pre-race preview the level of attention it usually gets so please excuse even more so, the incorrect facts or missing obvious hot-shots from the below.
For me, the NDW100 is the 'hardest race' we put on. What I mean by that is that as a runner, you can expect it to take longer to complete than the TP100 and SDW100. Only historic results dating back a number of years will give us a true indication, this is just our second NDW100 on the current course.
Course Records at this event are in my opinion, fairly solid. Manuel Lago's 2012 time came with a small navigational error and loss of motivation around the 50 mile point, however he was back on track and ran pretty solid through to the end. Sub 18 hours on this course is no joke. Alice Hector just missed out on running sub 20 hours. In her first 100, it was an epic run where her only competition came from the men.
Mark Perkins: Our inaugural SDW50 champ, Three Forts Marathon Podium finisher, this is his first 100 and we all know just how different a ball game is a 100 is to a 50, but speed and talent he most certainly has.
Luke Ashton: If Luke had spent a little less time in aid stations at this years TP100, also his first 100 miler, he would perhaps have made up the 3ish minutes he gave away to eventual winner Martin Bacon. If Luke is coming in injury free and rested (he races a lot), then he stands a very good chance of walking away with the trophy.
Eduard Egelie: Super man. Eduard is one of the strongest runners Ian and I have had the pleasure of working with. He had a strong first 100 last year smiling from start to finish and has all the talent to shock the field and run away with this. He won't be in the early lead pack but he'll be right there at the end if things go his way.
Toby Froschauer: Amazingly solid Caesars Camp 100 last year, solid SDW100 on not a lot of training and a lot of travel. He's got the legs to go all the way to the podium once again.
Ed Catmur: Everytime Ed races he comes with his A game. He led this race at half way last year before losing ground in the final throws, holding on for top 10. He brings a host of wins with him including one at a 100 this year. If Ed is fit and rested he will be hot out of the blocks and can hang there all day.
Dave Ross: Dave led the TP100 for 90ish miles this year before blowing up in the cold to a 6th overall. He's more experienced at the 100 mile game now with 5 or 6 behind him. If he can eat through to the latter stages and doesn't get lost too many times he'll be a top 10 without a shadow of a doubt. He wants more....
Sam Robson: Has been struggling with injury but with his 2nd at last years SDW100, if the pain stays away he has the strength.
James Eacott: I first met James in Chile in 2008. He was new to the whole ultrarunning scene, jogging around the desert in a pair of board shorts. Last Autumn in my second week since returning to running following Sparta, I met James again at the Druids challenge. I saw a different runner there who got stronger each day and went on to get 2nd overall to a racy Justin Montague. He has one major plus on his side, a finish here last year and in a fine time too. He's my dark horse for the title.
The ladies field doesn't look too deep this year, so I'm ready to be surprised by a few superstars and eat humble pie!
Wendy Shaw: Our overall Grand Slam leader, 2nd at the TP100, 3rd at the SDW100, Wendy keeps getting stronger and stronger. It's just a matter of time before she cracks it for the win.
Helen Smith: If everyone else blows up, Helen will be there. She won't be the fastest out of the gate, or perhaps even the middle third but Helen is as tough as they come and she knows how to finish 100 mile plus races off. She's proved countless times she can do it at all distances too (she won three forts in 2011 in exactly the same way).
Follow the live updates linked on our homepage throughout race weekend, and our twitter feed for intermittent updates from out on the course.
Saturday 15th June is race day for 200 runners hoping to make it the 100 miles from Winchester to Eastbourne non-stop and on foot under the 30 hour limit. As usual there will be those fighting to make the cut offs, those fighting for the fabled 100 miles - One Day Belt Buckle for a sub 24 hour finish and those shooting for the title and this time, the prize money that goes with it. Petzl are sponsoring the race this year and the manufacturer of the finest headlamps in the game are putting up £500 for both male and female winners as well as prizes for second and third places.
Here's a quick run down of some of the pre-race favourites. As always facts are not checked and top of my head assumptions drawn so please excuse any ommissions, errors and please do leave a comment at the bottom with your own insights if you wish!
The exciting part about this years event is that there is no stand out candidate for the race win. There is a good sized field of very talented runners in the mens race and it's extremely difficult to see where the win might go this time around. The big gap is left by Ryan Brown last years runaway winner who unfortunately has been struggling with injuries in the early part of 2013 and will be sorely missed.
The SDW is a race that encourages faster opening stages with it's rolling and runnable terrain. As the experienced 100 mile guys and girls know, the race doesn't start until mile 60 and I think there'll be some carnage later on if the early pace is as high as it's threatening to be. Look out for some big changes throughout the day. It's going to be great to watch!
Robbie Britton: A late addition to the field and a member of our own Centurion Ultra Running Team, Robbie is one of the most talented young ultrarunners in the country. At 26 he has more 100 mile experience than most and has dedicated himself this past 18 months to going long, with 4 x 24 hour races including a 19th overall 239kms at the recent World Championships. He won the NDW100 in 2011, finished 2nd at the TP100 in 2012 with a 16:02 and has recorded 100 mile splits in the low 15s twice at recent 24hr events. He's strong on the hills, has learned how to fuel himself and is capable of anything he sets his mind to. Working in his favour he always runs his own race. Don't look to him to be leading in the early stages but rather hold his pace all the way to the line.
Warwick Gooch: Warwick impressed last year as he gutted out the win at Caesars Camp 100 in terrible conditions in 21:54. As those who have run Caesars know it is a brutal event and if he can run as strong on the SDW he will be many hours quicker than that time, putting him right in the mix.
Toby Froschauer: Toby chased Warwick all the way at Caesars in 2012 and run in to the finish looking as fresh as he started out. Again if he has maintained his form he will be right in the mix.
Martin Rea: Martin is a class act runner and comes over from Ireland with a host of ultra wins in his background including the Himalayan Stage Race, the London Ultra, Cardiff Ultra, Connemara Ultra and the old Tring to Town event. He is an Irish National 100km Team runner and leads the 3hr pace groups at London, Belfast and Dublin Marathons. He took it easy at the SDW50 and found his way to the track in 3rd overall so he has knowlege of the course for the final stages.
Justin Montague: Justin has been working his way back to fitness after an injury earlier this year that took a lot out of his running. Traditionally he would have been right at the top of the list for the win, with an incredible pedigree of short and long distance ultra success alongside is super talented brother Nathan. Justin's stand out Centurion effort was his 2nd place finish at the North Downs Way 100 last August in 18:48. If he can resurrect anything like the form he showed there, he will be a threat all the way to the line.
Paul Bennett: Paul is a superbly strong runner and has enjoyed wins and podiums at the 3 day South Downs Way VOTwo event, the Steyning Stinger and the South Downs Marathon to name just those on the South Downs itself. He lives and trains on the downs and has built up his 100 mile experience over time adding the West Highland Way and the original South Downs Way 100 to his CV amongst others. He's the first to admit he hasn't yet converted his talent in to a 100 mile performance but when he does get it right he will be hard to beat.
Martin Bacon: Martin's experience is second to none coming in to the race, both in terms of long distance (100 mile+ racing) and course knowledge. In 2012 he took a sub 18 hour third place at the TP100 and this year converted that in to the win. 100 milers aren't won in the first 100km but they are most certainly lost there and Martin's experience may well allow him to shine and pick up the proverbial pieces if, as there always is, we see some blow ups from the early leaders.
Sam Robson: Sam has it all to play for. He finished second last year in 17:23 and has publicly stated he is going for a sub 16 hour finish. If he is able to convert it would surely go down as one of the UK Ultrarunning performances of the year. Confidence is crucial to runners and Sam is going in strong.
Doug Murray: The man who seemingly smiles from ear to ear right from the get go, always a pleasure to have on the course, Doug had a great SDW50 and then ran in a superb 2nd place in the NDW50, just outside of CR pace and just 6 days after he ran 33 miles up at Marlborough. He could shock everyone coming in here.
We are very lucky to have such a deep and talent filled women's field at this years event. It's going to be as, if not more exciting than the men's race to watch unfold.
Emily Canvin: Emily comes in hot off of back to back wins at both the SDW50 and NDW50. She smashed the course record at the NDW50 and has got a huge amount of talent and natural speed. This will be her first 100 but if she can manage her effort and her fueling she might just have the legs to make it three Centurion wins out of three.
Jean Beaumont: Jean blew us away with her win at the Winter 100 in November. She looked untroubled, leading throughout and kept a smile on her face through some horrendous weather. She previously won and set the Course Record at the Northburn 100 in New Zealand, her homeland and must be the experienced favouite coming in.
Wendy Shaw: Wendy keeps getting stronger and stronger. Relatively new to the sport she has trained well all year and is looking to add her second race to her Grand Slam attempt. She took a solid second at the Thames Path 100 in March and will be looking to go one better. Another one to run her own race she knows how to pace and to fuel herself and will pick up any pieces later in the race if others start to struggle.
Nicola Golunska: For a while we weren't sure if Nicola would be in shape to make the startline after a bike crash left her on the injury sidelines for a long time. She ran an incredible race in the 2011 SDW Race taking the win and a third place overall. Anything can happen when she is on form.
Susie Casebourne: Susie lacks 100 mile experience but has competed at the very highest level in sport with 2 silver medals at the ETU European Triathlon Champs. She recorded an ultra win at the EL CTS event in March and is one to watch here.
So I think that's about it for now. Did I miss someone? Please do leave comments below if so....
With the races coming thick and fast here at Centurion through this spring and summer, I'm going to keep the usual preview short and sweet. As always, apologies to anyone missed off, it isn't intentional and this is produced almost entirely from the top of my own head with little checking of results. Please comment on this post if you want to add or correct something!
The NDW50 is now in its third year with an unchanged course, although this year runners will have an additional 400 metres to cover turning in to the village and up to finish on the playing fields as opposed to the village green. With an expanding race and need for indoor facilities this was our best option.
It's worth mentioning that I still believe the NDW is the most difficult trail we hold events on. A lot of runners have looked at the overall elevation change and been duped in to believing that with 3000 ft less climbing over the 100, than the SDW100, it represents the easier option. But both the first and second 50s of our NDW races are punishing. The descents and ascents are short sharp and frequent. On the SDW, a better runner can keep moving forward at a good pace over the entire course but the NDW breaks your rhythm, chopping and changing underfoot and weaving its way eastwards via Box Hill, Reigate Hill and numerous other gradual drops and climbs. The weather this weekend looks to be fair for the most part and on reasonably dry ground, should make for faster than usual running.
Last year Steve Paterson took the overall honours in a stunning 7:22:45. Marie Dokes excellent 2011 mark of 9:20:07 was obliterated by Alice Hectors NDW100 50 mile split, however being in a different race Marie's mark stands as our course record.
Craig Holgate: Craig was our 2012 TP100 champion in 15:11, taking the win by over 50 minutes. He is a regular 2:3* marathoner with a pedigree of faster running at shorter distances behind him. He recently finished as Englands 1st and 2nd overall in the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km. We haven't seen him on stop start hills like this as yet but on a good day Craig has to be the favourite going in. He races to win and rightly so, his talent is phenomenal. I believe he has won every ultra he has entered with the exception of the national 100kms second.
Graham Booty: Graham is a super talented runner over all distances. Nothing short of a perfect day is good enough for this man, I've had the pleasure of racing with him myself over the years and he is a strong as they come. His 20 hour Caesars Camp 100, and 4th place 18:23 at the TP100 (which he was very disappointed with) are good examples. Im not sure of his form this season but he will be in the mix if he is in shape.
Matt Winn Smith: Matt's background is in triathlon (unknown) but with an 18:35 at the TP100 where he came from somewhat off of our radar, he is surely a man to watch.
Dan Afshar: Brings podium placings at the Pilgrims NDW multi-stage event to the table alongside solid marathon times and experience at the super long including the MdS and UTMB.
The Ladies Field.
I should start by saying I'm absolutely delighted to see both the number of women as a percentage of the field, growing, but also the level of competition increasing. The field we have at the NDW50 exemplifies this.
Emily Canvin: Emily recently took home the trophy for first place at the SDW50, taking advantage of better navigation in to the finish, for an 8:23 which in torrid conditions was extremely impressive.
MG Spalton: Turned in a very good marathon at London just recently just over the 3hr mark and brings some excellent ultra experience with her, a combination which must be good for success here....
Tiffany Saibil: Tiffanys experience in and around Alpine races will render this course essentially flat to her. With some excellent results behind her including 30th at the 200 mile TDG it'll be great to see what she can do here in the UK.
Katarzyna Burdzy: Pacing a friend at Three Forts last year we found ourselves racing Katarzyna and her pacer all day and her fight for 2nd place was something to behold. With an 8 hour Thames Trot this year and the experience of the 2011 NDW50 behind her she could have a very good day this time out.
As I mentioned this is a very quick scan through so please accept my apologies for errors and people missed out. Lastly we have Paul Corderoy running hoping to bag his 2nd 50 and 3rd Centurion race of the year, on route to attempting to finish all 6 races and 500 miles with us in 2013. Good luck Paul!
With great sorrow and reluctance we have made the call to drastically alter this years TP100 course. The river is still flooded in places with flood alerts along much of its length. With heavy rain forecast Thursday night and throughout the day and night on Friday, the environment agency are predicting the river will rise again which will lead to the path being engulfed by water and hence impassable and dangerous.
Further to yesterdays email, we can now confirm that the 2013 TP100 race will be re-routed from its planned course and replaced the flood course. All of the details of this new course including aid station locations and cut offs are listed here at this page (link).
We are in the process of extending hire periods, repacking vans and co-ordinating the relocation of 80 volunteers. As such we ask you please to keep email traffic in to essential items only over the next 48 hours. All of the information you should need is as follows:
- The first 38 miles of the course are unchanged. At Cookham you will turn around and run back to Walton (aid station 1). At Walton you will turn around and head back to Cookham. At Cookham the second time you will turn around and run back only as far as Windsor where you will finish. Examine the aid station link carefully for the precise details.
- The course distance is as close to 100 miles as we can make it, but will run very slightly long, potentially 2 - 3 miles.
- The ONLY indoor Checkpoint is now at Wraysbury which you will visit at miles: 22, 54 and 76. As such you must be DOUBLY prepared for the cold and wet, the forecast is mostly dry across the weekend at the moment, however the temperatures will drop below freezing during the night. Mandatory gear is a minimum essential list only.
- If you have a pacer you may have them meet you at Windsor the second time (mile 48) and they may pace you from that point through to the finish.
- If you have a crew, your crew may ONLY get access to you at Wraysbury the first time, Windsor all times and Cookham all times. DO NOT get your crew to visit Wraysbury after the first time through or Walton at ANY STAGE OF THE RACE. We can't be any clearer on this, we will be in breach of our agreements and assessments with those venues and we will not be allowed back. Remember, your crew can meet you anywhere else you like on the course but please ask them not to do so in residential areas and to keep the noise to a minimum. The future of the race depends on this.
- Your drop bags will be available to you at Windsor only. Miles: 28, 48, 82 and the finish.
- There is a railway station at Windsor, within walking distance of the finish line, with regular trains back to London.
- THERE ARE NO SLEEPING FACILITIES OR INDOOR SPACE AT THE FINISHING AREA. We will have shuttle buses/ cars running to Oxford for those that have accommodation or transport there that they cannot change. Windsor town centre is a short walk from the finish also, you will run through it three times during the race.
Finally, it is important that you are aware that should the heavy rain forecast over the course of the next 48 hours, lead to flooding on this new course then it will become necessary for the race to be postponed. We do not mention it lightly and rest assured we will do everything we can to hold a safe and enjoyable event, however if at any time we deem the safety of runners to be at jeopardy, we will be forced to take the necessary action to ensure that situation is avoided.
Thank you for your understanding and flexibility. We hope that you enjoy the race just as much on the new course.
Essential questions can be directed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The second Thames Path 100 will take place this coming Saturday 23rd March. Kicking off at 10am from Richmond in London, runners will have 30 hours to reach Queens College Sports Grounds in Oxford in order to finish.
As with all of our events, I try to post a little bit of background on the front runners of both the men's and women's field and usually get some things right and some things wildly wrong. As always, my apologies for any glaring errors, falsehoods or wildly inaccurate predictions, and all comments are gratefully received, especially those from which we can correct items.
Overall the course looks to be in similar condition to 2012. There are one or two patches under a few inches of water and certainly some mud around, but with a trail 100 in the UK at this time of year, it's as good as could be expected. The elevation gain is so tiny it's inconsequential to the overall (less than 800 feet in 100 miles) however therein lies a different challenge, where the muscles don't get that break and change from climbing or descending. It's a runners course for sure and the faster marathoners tended to shine. We'll see if that lasts this year....
Well the big hole in the field is caused by the absence of first and second place from 2012. Craig Holgate who won the inaugural race with a storming 15:11 in his first ever 100 miler. As a 2:30 marathon Craig came in with months of back to back 100 mile weeks behind him and showed the field his class and strength. Robbie Britton of our Centurion Ultrarunning Team came home in 2nd in 2012, 16:02 a big PB for him on trails. Both are now focusing their efforts on running for Team GB at 100km and 24hrs respectively.
Martin Bacon: Martin took 3rd in 2012 with a solid run that saw him come in comfortably under 18 hours (17:41). With a pedigree built on years of marathoning and trail running he's extremely strong over the longer stuff with a good finish at the NDW100, a 30 hour GUCR and a 3rd place at the Winter 100 in November to name but a few. He will be hoping to improve on his time this year.
Dave Ross: There's only one word to describe Dave Ross: Machine. Dave is the guy you see clocking a 3hr marathon week in week out whilst casually dropping in the odd 100 miler. He is on route to his 300th marathon this summer, a career which has spanned many years and included many victories at a variety of races as well as more recently finishes at the NDW100 2011, TP100 2012 (18:48), Leadville 100 2012 and a win at the Adventure Hub Coastal 100km late last year. With his new nutrition plan and the knowledge that comes from experience Dave is out to significantly better his 2012 time.
Jutin Montague: A name familiar to anyone running XNRG's multi-day events or indeed running the UK ultrarunning circuit, Justin is as humble as he is talented. In 2012 he won a place at the NDW100 by taking first at the Isle of Wight Race and stormed to 2nd place overall in 18:48. Capable of that time on a much more challenging course if Justin can hold a good day together on the TP he is my pick for the win.
Richard Ashton: Richard is a wildcard for me, taking wins at a couple of shorter ultras recently, however the 100 mile distance is a huge step up and I believe this will be his first so time will tell as to whether he can hold a good pace over the long stuff.
Wouter Hamelinck: The man who's done it all. Most will know Wouter as one of two runners to finish the inaugural Piece of String fun run, a race he dominated for all 115 miles, never knowing how far he may end up having to go. His mental strength is on a different level, he's finished everything there is to finish (except Sparta where one day I hope he'll run). If it was a race based on experience he'd win it.
Terrence Zengerink: Steady, solid, unphased, humble, Terrence's 4th place at the Winter 100 in November (19:04), his second sub 20hr 100 of 2012 stands him in stead for a big PB here.
Markus Flick: Markus joined us in 2012 for the TP100 and the W100, coming over from Germany both times. IN 2012 he ran a 20:08 and looked completely untroubled, staying on to volunteer at the finish line until we closed at the end of the race, something I'll never forget. As a multiple finisher of the Spartathlon and many other global races over 100 miles in length he has all the skills to push his 2012 time quite significantly.
Pete Goldring: The dark horse? Pete started running ultras thanks to yours truly in 2010 and quickly stepped up to the 100 mile distance in 2011. After much advice on pacing and taking it easy your first time, he threw the rule book out of the window and ran an 18:53 at the Umstead 100. He's subsequently recorded solid efforts at Vermont 100 and SDW100 2012, but it'll be about whether he can recapture the speed he found towards the back end of that 100 mile debut out in the US.
All of the above could prove irrelevant in the overall scheme as we turn to the ladies field. We are blessed with some very talented British lady ultrarunners right now and we're delighted to have such a strong ladies field racing this weekend.
Mimi Anderson: A lady who needs no introduction. Mutliple world record holder she has completed races and self support journeys that make most shudder. She is the reigning 2012 TP100 champ having clocked an 18:50 for 8th overall.
Debbie Martin-Consani: Debs earned a place in the race, by turning in the performance of the year in 2012, winning the GUCR (145 miles) outright in 28:01. In the process she dipped just under Mimi's previous CR. Debs has represented Team GB on multiple occassions and holds the Scottish 100 mile Record of 15:48. Need I say any more
Wendy Shaw: The top two ladies dipped under 20 hours in 2012. Wendy is capable of going well under that mark, knows the course inside out and has been training like a trooper in preparation for this event. An incredibly solid runner, she will be around to pick up any pieces towards the end.
Slammers/ Returning Runners
It's wonderful as an organiser to see people returning to a race. This time we have a few people who stand out.
Tremayne Cowdry and the indomitable Ken Fancett, both 2012 Grand Slammers, are running. Ken is the only person to date who has compeleted all 5 Centurion 100 mile events and will be going for his 6th.
We also have a batch of 19 Grand Slam hopefuls toeing the line, making their first step towards covering 400 miles in just 4 races in 2013.
We also have a group of 10 starters who made it at least as far as abgindon in 2012 before being pulled from the course in blizzard conditions. They will be back to cross the finish line in Oxford and earn their second buckle.
There are of course many other stories behind many other runners at this race and the list is certainly not exhaustive, simply designed to give a quick insight in to some of those taking part in the race.
Please feel free to comment below....