A quick preview ahead of this weekends 2015 Petzl South Downs Way 100. A big thanks to our title sponsor Petzl who have once again stumped up the cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed men and women. The women's field in particular is an exciting one. So who might walk off with a nice pay day....
Sally Ford: Sally won the TP100 in early May with a new Course Record time of 17:33. Along with her victory at the Wall Ultra last year, probably her best performance. If she has recovered well and conditions are good, it will be great to see how close to Jean Beaumont's SDW/ Centurion All Time 100 mile Record of 16:56, she can get.
Wendy Shaw: 9 Centurion 100 milers, 8 podiums, no wins. Need I say more? She will be there again to fight for that first win and keep her stakes up in the Grand Slam.
Jenni Ball: Winner of the 2014 NDW100. Jenni hasn't got the depth of experience of the previous two but on what is undoubtedly our toughest course, she persevered for the win and will hopefully be coming in to this one with eyes on a second trophy.
Jess Gray: 3 ultras. 3 wins including one 1st overall. Most recently taking the crown at the 2015 NDW50, missing out on the Course Record by under a minute. This is Jess' first 100. Can she nail it??
Dave Ross: The original journeyman, Dave Ross loves a race. He recently claimed his 11th Comrades finish, and has a string of 100 milers behind him to go with his circa 300 marathons/ ultras. He is also our Grand Slam Record Holder. He comes in to this event with from what I can see, the fastest 100 mile Trail PB of the field, having picked up 3rd here last year with a superb 15:58. He has been suffering with some PF issues but if he can stay on course and use all of his experience he could well head in to Badwater next month, with a win behind him.
Nick Greene: 2nd at the 2015 TP100 in 16:52. Nick is amongst a special band to have finished all 3 previous SDW100s. Every year he seems to improve (10th in 2014) and if he has bounced back out of his TP finish he'll be looking to podium yet again.
Tim Landon: 18:14 for 12th in 2014. Also 3rd at TP100 earlier last year. Tim can run wild at the end of a race, but can also blow up. Let's see if he can hang tough this time out.
Paul Bennett: Previously 3rd in 16:58 where he ran home with this years TP100 winner, Max Wilcocks. Paul can be found half of the time in India these days, which means his training is sometimes erratic, but always high on quality. He knows how to suffer and has enough experience and base fitness behind him to surprise himself and land another podium at least.
Neal Beacher: Paul's training partner. A man with a big smile and a pleasure to have at any event. He is on fire at the moment, according to Paul, and is capable of sub 16 so let's see if he can deliver!
Sam Robson: 2nd here in 2012 in 17 and change, Sam's up and down race results continued at the TP100 where after a great finish at Sparta, he returned with a DNF in the first race of the Slam, having led the first 20 miles at a blistering pace. Which Sam will we see on the day!
Finally a special mention to the three most inspirational people in the starting field this year. James Binks, who has marked almost every one of our races since 2011, turns out to race. At 71, he will be the oldest competitor in the field but don't let that fool you as he completed the MdS yet again just a few months ago. Peter Johnson is an idol. A legend. The type of man who when you ask him how many races he's done, he genuinely doesn't know. So you look it up and find things like 11 x GUCRs, 8 Ridgeway's and over 100 other ultras. Finally, Ken Fancett. Ken is going for his 3rd Grand Slam. He recently finished what I make to be approximately his 40th 100 mile race at the TP100 in 20:49. At 65 I think most of us would take that kind of ability. He truly must be one of the leading athletes in the world for his age group.
We look forward to welcoming around 250 runners to the line on Saturday morning!