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....