Starting at 0800 this Friday, a hardy band of pioneers will embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to go down in history. To become legends. In their attempt to complete 100 miles of woodland hills and trails in the unique and wonderful Wendover Woods.
With 20,000ft of climb and descent, a 32 hour time limit and 10 laps in front of them, this will be a tough race to finish. We anticipate our average finish rate at 100 milers of 65% across the past 9 years, to drop below 50% this time. But that will simply make the achievement of finishing that much greater.
The weather looks warm, possibly wet at times, but the trails are currently in peak condition - fast, groomed and ready for some stellar performances.
For a small starting field, the race has attracted some top runners to race and it will be a true test of their mettle to see who can not only survive the course but to race it too.
Leading contenders are as follows.
Stuart Leaney: The king of Wendover Woods 50. Stuart won the last two editions of that race both in course record times. On route to a 7:16 winning time in 2018, his second lap was a blistering 1:21, the fastest lap we have seen around that course by over 30 seconds per mile. He's been focused on this one and comes into it off an NDW50 (a race he won in 2018 also) which was not his best effort but came at the end of a big training week. It is however, his first 100 miler. Can the king double the distance and perform at the same level.
Stuart Leaney striding to victory at WW50 in 2017
Ian Hammett: This years TP100 champion, Ian also finished third at the SDW100 last month. He is running all five of our 100s this year, and looking at adding Spartathlon in to boot. Is he recovered? If he is he can add yet another crown to his roster.
Warwick Gooch: The previous Grand Slam record holder is back to run a 10 x 10 mile loop tough 100. The last time he did, he walked off with victory at Caesars Camp 100 before that race ceased to be held. How well he did that day will still be a fond memory for him and certainly he knows how to execute the tough races well.
Nick Greene: Nick has become one of the more experienced runners on the scene in recent years and has run consistently at a high level for a number of years. His best results have been a second at the TP100 and a 4th at the NDW50. He has finished the SDW50 seven times, all of them in the top 10 mens positions including this year. He knows the course like the back of his hand as a regular marker for us here. It will be great to see him go long.
Just seven women line up to take on the 100. So we'll preview all of them!
Mari Mauland: Mari was our 2017 Grand Slam of 100s champion, winning three of the races in the process. She went on to finish second at last years NDW100. In 2019 she has already finished second at a 24hr event in Finland, clocking a 17:14 100 miler on route.
Mari taking top honours at the 2017 NDW100
Anna Troup: Anna has a range of super results behind her. In 2019 she has already finished second at the Arc of Attrition 100 and first at the Oner. In the past she also has podiums at the Thames Trot (1st), Ultra Trail Snowdonia 50 (2nd) and CTS Sussex (2nd). She is also a previous finisher of UTMB.
Alexandra Duesbury: Alexandra has twice finished the Wendover Woods 50 and loves it enough to consider the ten lap version. This won't be her first 100 having finished the Autumn 100 just last October.
Zoe Norman: Zoe volunteers at almost all of our events, certainly the ones she isn't running. She's finished almost all of our events in the past, including last year running the 50 mile Grand Slam.
Tracey Watson: Tracey holds some incredible records with us. She has finished 29 Centurion events to date and has finished the double slam each of the last three years in a row.
Mel Horley: Mel is running the 2019 100 mile Grand Slam and wanted to add the other 100 to make it a full house of five with us this year. Last year she finished the 50 mile slam and was consistent all year. Her best result to date was a 22:59 for fifth at the TP100 in 2017.
Sheila Rose: Sheila finished our 100 mile Grand Slam last year and has a couple of other 100s to her name, both at Robin Hood 100 in Nottinghamshire, amongst many other ultras at a range of distances.
Starting 15 hours after the 100 mile has begun, at 2300 on Friday evening, a group of night owls will begin their first of 3 laps around the Wendover route. They need to be done by 0830 on Saturday morning to make the cut off. This is a new format and a new distance for us, but it has attracted a lot of familiar names.
Dan Lawson: The Centurion Ultra Team runner, Dan is the co-host of the best podcast available anywhere, See link here for further details. He also happens to be one of the most decorated ultra runners of our generation and arguably the best long distance runner we have seen in the UK for a long time. His accolades are too long to mention but top of the pops include being European 24hr Champion. Course Record holder at GUCR, The Ridgeway, RAT - The Plague, Ultrabalaton, Ultra Trail Gobi, Steenbergen 12hr, Downslink - the list goes on. He has also been 2nd at Spartathlon and 3rd at Badwater. In 2019 he has already set a British 6 day road record, with 920km. Yes this is just a training run for him but Dan will still want a win on route to his main focus this year, the World 24hr champs.
Dan in action on route to 2nd at Spartathlon. Photo c/o Shooting Therapy
Neil Martin: Neil is one of the rare few who has actually beaten Dan at an event, when he took home first to Dans second at the Arc of Attrition 50 this past February. But the author of this post may be accused of having slowed Dan down a little in the first half. Neil is running the 50 mile slam this year and is off to a tremendous start, leading the rankings by a large margin after the first two, solid top ten finishes.
Paul Russhard: Paul stepped up his game recently with a superb run at this years NDW50 for 2nd. He is fast over shorter stuff and likes the hills so this will suit him. I think we will see him go out hard here.
Tomasso Migliulo: Tomasso took home a strong third at the Wendover Woods 50 last November. He has also podiumed at the SDW50 and the Eiger Ultra Trail 85km. With top ten finishes at the V3k and Lakes Sky ultra this is flatter than he is used to and that could play in his favour.
Paul Radford: Paul is local to the area and has some great results in recent years and some more echoing back further. Most notably he ran 224km at Barcelona 24hr in December last year. He's also won the Wendover Challenge with 67k in 6 hours around a flatter route in the woods. Lots of top ten finishes at other events preceed those including a best of 2nd place (twice) at the Ridgeway Challenge including 2018.
Kevin Shannon: 6th at the WW50 last November followed a strong 32 hour UTMB in 2016.
Mark Shannon: 11th at WW50 last November, finished UTMB alongside Kevin above in 2016.
Christine Howard: Christine has had a lot of strong performances at a range of different ultras spanning back 7 years but last year was her strongest. Her best results from 2018 included podium finishes at the SDW50 and Chiltern Wonderland 50 in alongisde a win at the SVP100km.
Melanie Frazier: Melanie picked up third at the SDW50 in 2017 and has also finished on the podium at Salisbury 50km and the Mendip Marauder 50.
Christine on route to 2nd at the 2018 Chiltern Wonderland 50
The eighth edition of what will be our largest ever 100 mile starting field is nearly upon us. The South Downs Way 100 is a classic route, featuring enough climb and descent to keep things interesting, stunning vistas over the surrounding countryside and coast, as well as some superb fast running. The course changes very slightly this year with a new start in Matterley Bowl which should afford a spectacular start for our 375 runners.
The course records have stood for years. Jean Beaumont’s 16:56 from 2013 and Mark Perkins’ 14:03 from 2014 have seemed untouchable. Can anyone get close or potentially go under, this year?
Marcus Scotney: Marcus is a previous GB Trail and 100km team member and has competed at the highest level in the UK. His list of wins is impressive. The Dragons Back, Spine Challenger, Cape Wrath Ultra. 6:56 for 100km at Winschoten in 2016 puts him as one of the fastest runners we’ve had toe a starting line. He’s been competitive in the mountains, over rough terrain and on flat road. His credentials suggest he could do something spectacular here.
Paul Maskell: Paul won our 2017 Autumn 100 in 14:34 and has subsequently gone on to qualify for the British 24hr team with a superb 247km at Tooting Bec last September. He is a two time winner of the Arc of Attrition and 2018 GUCR champion. It is great to see him running here in his tune up to this years 24hr World Championships in Albi in October.
Ian Hammett: Our 2019 Thames Path 100 winner in a blazing fast 14:36. Lining up for race two in his Grand Slam attempt, Ian is on great form in 2019 having also banked a marathon PB. He’s had plenty of top results over recent years but seems to have lifted things to that next level for 2019.
John Melbourne: Ran Ian hard at the Thames Path 100, closing all the way to mile 85 before fading just in the very final stages but still recording a superb 14:58. He ran a superb third here last year in 15:56.
Jon Ellis: Jon is our Grand Slam 50 mile record holder, in a 2017 season where he won the SDW50, NDW50 and CW50 before missing out narrowly in the final race of the year to finish second at the WW50. He still holds the course records at the NDW50 and CW50. More recently he has run himself onto the podium at the Highland Fling and tried his hand at international races. He ran this race as his first 100 last year and struggled in the final stages but hung tough to finish 4th in 16:16. He knows if he gets this right, he can run something spectacular and his training has gone well. Fingers crossed we get to see some fireworks.
Geoff Cheshire: Geoff has been one of the most consistent high level performers in the last couple of years on the circuit in the South East. He was Race to the Stones winner, before coming to our events and running home the 2018 winner of the Chiltern Wonderland. He started 2019 finishing 2nd at Country to Capital, 44 miles in a hair under 5 hours and is certainly ready for this, his first 100. As part of our regular course marking team at all our events, he has also had the chance to recce much of the route.
Peter Cromie: Peter has already won the Dublin to Belfast Ultra this year, 173km in 17:44, a race he also won last year in a blazing 16:16. In 2018 he ran 10th at Bigs Backyard, ammassing 254km in the process. He has won the Mourne Way ultra numerous times and finished second at the Grand To Grand Multi Stage race in 2017.
Jack Galloway: Jack won the 2017 South Wales 100. He was second at the Snowdonia Quarter in 2018 and has so far recorded a 2:35 marathon in 2019.
Jonathan Palmer: This looks like Jonathan's first 100, but in the past few years he has finished 8th at the V3K, 5th at the Lakes Sky Ultra and earlier this year won the Chester Ultra, 50 miles in 6:33.
David L'Anson: In 2018 David was second at both the Thames Trot and the Oner.
Sarah Morwood: Two time winner of this event, in 2014 prior to a major bike accident, and then in 2017 bettering her time from 3 years previous. Between 2017 and 2018, Sarah went on to represent GB on the trails. Her record is too extensive to list here - she has won literally dozens of events and she will be looking for her 8th Centurion trophy to date. Late last year she was involved in a major car crash and spent the first part of the year in intensive rehab with no running. Just last month she returned to racing with an excellent win at the Tuscany Crossing 100km. If she is able to run close to her 2014 and 2017 performances it will signal another incredible return from traumatic injury and speaks to Sarahs incredible resilience as an athlete and person.
Edwina Sutton: Eddie has been a long time member of our Centurion Ultra Team and one of our coaches at Centurion. She had a glittering career in Iron distance triathlon before turning to the trails. In 2014 she ran home the winner of the South Downs Way 50, and went on to various other top performances at Uk Ultras between 50km and 50 miles. In 2016 she represented England at the ACP100km and finished 2nd, later that year she went on to win the Chiltern Wonderland 50. More recently she has turned to multi day running and recently won the XNRG event along this very trail. This will be her first 100 mile race and it’s going to be really exciting to see what she can deliver.
Ingrid Lid: Our 2018 NDW100 Champion, Ingrid ran home 2nd at the Thames Path 100 last month. She had a close fought race with eventual winner Debbie Martin-Consani but started her Grand Slam attempt in excellent fashion.
Sarah Hill: Sarah's results look solid and consistent amongst some good sized starting fields. Amongst many top ten finishes she has wins at Race to the Stones, the Pilgrims Challenge, Round the Island (twice) the Fox Ultra and the Druid Ridgeway Challenge all to her name in the past three years.
Michelle Maxwell: Michelle won our 2017 NDW50 in 8:26. She has also won the Jurassic Quarter and the Beacons Ultra in the past.
Rebecca Lane: 3rd here last year she has also run top 10 at the TP100 and won the Chiltern 100km, 214km and St Peters Way ultra.
As always, you can follow the race live via this link starting from 0600 Saturday.
The eigth edition of this race, the opener of our 2019 100 mile calendar and what a line up we have in both the mens and womens fields.
Last year this event was a scorcher, with temperatures topping out at a 26 degrees and a good level of humidity to go with it. We still saw fast times, but nothing approaching what we might be expecting this year.
Here is a run down of the likely leading men and women.
Craig Holgate: Craig is the reigning course record holder with a 14:09 back in 2017. He also won the inaugural edition of this event back in 2012. Craig's resume is world class. He has represented Team GB at 100km, on the trails and at the 24hr format. His 14:09 here came with a huge detour just 8 miles from the finish which denied him and us (!) our first sub 14 hour 100 miler. It is simply a matter of time until that happens and it would be a brave person to bet against Craig doing that here.
Peter Windross: Peter won this event last year in a superb 15:49. He went on to record further solid performances with a 6th and a 5th at the SDW100 and NDW100 before capping off the year with a 15:35 at the A100 for a new Grand Slam record. One would expect Peter to better his time from last year here, however just over the 13th-14th April he had a brilliant result at the Crawley 24hr, with a 227km performance for the win there. That will surely still be in his legs somewhat come the TP100 - but if he can pull off a fast recovery he is clearly in excellent shape.
Ian Hammett: Ian burst on to the ultra scene in 2015 and has gone on to record a string of incredibly consistent results. Stand out performances include a 15:46 for 2nd at the 2016 SDW100. Later that year he won the SVP100km and has finished on the podium or in the top ten at many of our events including the SDW50, NDW50, NDW100 and CW50. He notably also finished 22nd at Spartathlon in 2017. He is in shape, earlier this year he lowered his marathon time down to 2:36 in Seville. As a prospective grand slammer this year he will want to have a flying start here.
John Melbourne: Similar to Ian, John comes into this one with a fine pedigree and an eye on the Grand Slam. A prolific racer, John is willing to have a good go at any distance/ terrain and has come on leaps and bounds in recent years to record some fine results. The pick of the bunch was his superb 3rd place at the SDW100 last year in 15:56, with other 2018 results including a 4th at the NDW50, wins at the Downland Challenge 30 and the Everglades 50 in Florida. He ended the year by breaking 30 hours at Spartathlon, a very solid time for that event. This year he has already opened his account by winning the Monument Valley 50 out in the US, the CTS Sussex and taking 2nd at the Pilgrims Way Challenge. It's safe to say that we can expect big things from him here.
Ed Catmur: Ed is a favourite with us. This man knows how to suffer and when you combine that with the speed he has it can make for some truly spectacular results. Arguably his best run at one of our events was his 15:44 for the course record at the NDW100 in 2013, a record that nobody has come near to since. He was our 2014 champion here and also won our Winter 100 in the early years. During 2016 and 2017 he suffered with injury and was a way off of his best. But 2018 he made strides forward again and notably in November, ran home 6th place in the Australian 100 mile - the Alpine Challenge. He may not be back to the 2013 Ed but hopefully we can see him go from strength to strength once again.
Jason Lewis: Jason has a deep history of solid results at some of the tougher 100s in the UK. 2nd at the Arc of Attrition, 3rd at Lakeland 100, but he can also do it on the flat - he won the Leeds to Liverpool Canal Race (130 miles) in a sub 24 hour time in 2015. One thing is for sure, he will be the one smiling from start to finish.
Paul Radford: Paul has finished runner up at the Ridgeway Challenge three times, including a best in 2018 of 13:35. He also had a super result to end last year with, a 224km at Barcelona 24hr for 5th place. He has plenty of top tens and podium finishes at events like the NDW50, Winter 100 and Cappadocia 110km plus a win at the shorter Weald Challenge 50km.
Ali Watson: Ali also brings plenty of experience to the occassion. A 2nd at the NDW100 and a 3rd at the SDW100 in a time of 16:26 perhaps his two stand out results. He will surely be looking to better that here.
Paul Beechey: Paul has been a consistent performer over the last five years or so. His stand out results include wins at the Kennett and Avon Canal Race (145 miles) with Paul Ali (featured below), Endure 24, T100, the Oner and Cotswold 24hr. He also has two Spartathlon finishes to his name to boot.
Paul Ali: co-winner of the K&A Canal Race alongside Paul Beechey above, Paul has a deeper ultra career than most. He has finished GUCR 7 times and this event 4 times previous with a best of 18:35 on this course. His best 100 was a 17:04 at the Autumn 100 in 2016 and he can certainly go faster than that here based off of 2018 results and consistent improvement.
Dave Andrews: Based in Scotland, Dave has wins at the Glen Lyon ultra and Glenmore 24hr to his name as well as a cracking 17:37 for 4th at the WHW Race last year.
Debs Martin-Consani: Previous winner of this event back in 2013 on the adapted flood route, Debs returns to this event to complete the journey to Oxford! It's a cliche but Debs has done almost everything in the sport. As well as representing GB multiple times at the 24hr format, she has finished huge events such as Spartathlon, TDG, UTMB, Transgrancanaria. She has won the GUCR outright, and finished first at the SDW100, NDW100 and Lakeland 100.
Wendy Whearity: Wendy is the most prolific and consistent 100 mile runner over Centurion events. She has 18 x 100 mile finishes with us and has never finished lower than 8th - but is yet to win one. In the last couple of years, Wendy has found successs at the 24hr format and broke into the GB team in 2018 after running 220km at the Barcelona 24hr in December 2017. There is no doubt she will be eyeing a 100 mile PB and her first win with us here.
Ingrid Lid: Ingrid was our 2018 NDW100 champ in her Centurion debut. She has a host of other top results in her home country of Norway, with a 2nd at the Oslo 80km and a 2nd at Undheim 100km among them.
Leanne Rive: Leanne is a regular at the SDW100, with four top 6 finishes there. She's also gone on in recent years to finish some tough international events including the TDG twice and Transylvania 100. She has lots of solid results around the UK, including four wins at Round the Rock, podium finishes at the Cotswold Way Century and the Thames Trot - and is off to a good start in 2019 with a win at the Flitch Way 100km.
Rebecca Lane: 5th here last year, Rebecca was 3rd at last years SDW100 and won the Chiltern Way 214km, finishing the year with a 7th at the Autumn 100.
Markus Flick: Markus gets the special mention at this event. In 2012 he came over to run with us from his native Germany, finished the race and seeing how torrid the weather was, immediately took to volunteering and helping other runners at the finish. He was a tremendous help to me that day when we were still learning a lot! Since then he has gone on to finish every edition of this race and indeed every edition of the Winter/ Autumn 100. The only other person to finish every edition of this race, Ken Fancett, is suffering an injury coming into this one hence Markus will be looking to take the legacy forward. Of course, this event is childs play for someone who has 4 Tour De Ruhr and 4 UTMB finishes to his name amongst around 150 other ultra finishes.
As always, the race can be followed live via the link here, starting 0930 Saturday 4th May.