This race was postponed in 2020 from May to November and then cancelled when the November lock down was introduced. So some of the runners on the start line will have been waiting almost two years to run. It will be such a relief to get this, what was our first event back in 2011, back on again.
The womens field in particular this time, looks really exciting, with a good depth of competition. The mens race has one stand out competitor with several of the leading contenders sadly pulling out in recent weeks due to injury, including Tom Evans and existing course record holder Jon Ellis.
The conditions underfoot at the moment are sticky in places but generally good going - the softer ground is actually a blessing on some of the steeper descents. A mixed week of lower than average temperatures, some rain and some sun gives a little uncertainty over what will be the case on Saturday but it looks unlikely to be blazing hot which often has the biggest impact on times.
Samantha Amend: Sam will be familiar to many as having recently broken the British 100 mile record at our Track 100, running 14:34 for a new all time best mark. Her background in road and ultra running is really too long to list out but the most impressive element is her consistency over the past 10-12 years despite being a prolific racer across all distances. PBs other than the 100 mile record include 220km for 24hrs, 7:53 for 100km, 3:28 for 50km and a 2:42 marathon as well as high standards in shorter marks. She has twice won our TP100 and has the course record there in 16 hours flat. She has several England and GB vests to her name. She is no stranger to hillier trail too and it will be fascinating to see what she can deliver here, relatively soon after the Track effort.
Sam Amend at the 2021 Track 100 (Steve Ashworth)
Rachel Normand: The La Sportiva athlete from Carnethy burst onto the scene in 2018 with some stellar results including an 8:22 for the win at the Highland Fling, second at Lakeland 50 and then two other local ultra wins to cap it off. She had a great 2019 with wins at CTS Exmoor and Ennerdale Trail. Internationally she placed 15th at Laveredo and 17th at TGC both super runs. Due to the pandemic she hasn't raced since, so this marks her return.
Gill Bland: 7:53 here in 2018 for third place, but the sixth fastest time we have had on this course in the nine prior editions. Her road running background is impressive, with a decade of experience, a raft of sub 3 hour efforts including most recently a 2:55 at the Cheshire Elite Marathon in April 2021.
Michelle Maxwell: Michelle ran away winner here in 2017 in a time of 8:26. Since then she has finished second in both the TP100 and SDW100 and in 2020 took home the win at the final event of the season - the SDW50 - in 8:15.
Michelle Maxwell won here in 2017 (Stuart March)
Rachel Lindley: 7th and 5th here in the past with a course best of 8:39
Katy Ward: A consistent marathoner over the last decade, with a PB of 2:58 and a 1:22 for the Half.
Ry Webb: Ry ran our first ever event, on this course in 2011 coming home 12th in 9:18. Since then he has been on both sides of the table a multitude of times and has improved his running substantially in the process. He's come very close to winning one of our events so many times, could this finally be where he takes home a trophy? He lives locally and with this his back yard he will surely want to go all the way this time. His bests include second here in 2016 in 7:05. He then ran the Grand Slam of 50s the following year, finishing second, third, third and third in the four events, in the process his NDW50 time sneaked in under the 7 hour mark with a 6:58. In 2019 he showed he had the speed on the track too, finishing the inaugural Track 100 in a superb 13:24 for second place.
Ry Webb on his way to second at the Track 100 in 2019 (Jack Atkinson)
Lyndon Cooper: Lyndon has wins at the Maverick X-Series Ultra Snowdonia and the West Country Hilly 50 mile behind him as well as several top 5s and top 10s at other ultras ranging from 50km through to 85 miles including Wendover Woods 50 and the Ridgeway Challenge.
Julien Cazorla: Seventh at the SDW50 in April, he then ran home for sixth at the TP100 just two weekends ago in 16:18. This one comes very soon off of the back of that, of course.
Mark Pinder: Has started out 2021 with a sixth at the SDW50 in a solid 7:07.
One special mention and that is for Chris Finill. Chris was a top GB athlete back in the 2000's with numerous GB vests to his name. He is also one of the few ever-presents at the London Marathon, having run every edition and as a MV60 in 2019 ran a sub 3 hour effort there. That marked the incredible achievement of having run a sub 3 hour marathon in 5 decades.
The race has a rolling start and kicks off off between 0530 and 0800 on Saturday 22nd May. Follow it live here.
Well we have just about recovered from seeing the Mens 100 mile World Record and Womens 100 mile British Records tumble at the Track 100 two weeks ago and are set to go with our first trail 100 of 2021. In fact the winner of the ladies race in the Track 100 Samantha Amend, will be volunteering at Wallingford check point which just goes to show how much support and community involvement goes into ultrarunning in the UK from athletes of every level.
We have no less than six former winners at our events across the Mens and Womens fields this weekend. It's wonderful to see such competitive race fields lining up for this event.
Dan Lawson: No matter the speed of anyone else behind him, Dan Lawson remains the man to beat at any 100 mile plus event in the land, especially on the flat. You could take the resume of the next nearest half a dozen athletes in the UK on road/ flat/ track events and add them together to get nowhere near what he has already achieved. His main highlights would be: European 24hr Champion and more recently running a new Lands End to John O Groats record which was captured on film. He has won and / or has the course record at Grand Union Canal Race (where his 100 mile split was well under 14 hours). Ridgeway 86. Ultrabalaton. Ultra Trail Gobi. EMU 6 day. Run the Rann 100 mile. Etc. Races he hasn't won but worth mentioning are his 2nd at Spartathlon and 3rd at Badwater. Dan will run with others and revel in the experience of being in a race again, spreading joy to all around him. But make no mistake, when it comes to the second half of the race, Dan comes into his own. His only downfall might be the fact that he's spent several days not eating this week. You can listen to the British Ultrarunning Pod latest episode here to get the inside exclusive.
Dan Lawson (Photo c/o Dave MacFarlane)
Richard Mcdowell: Won the SDW50 three weeks ago. Marathon best of 2:23 placing him first V40 in the championship start at the London Marathon 2019. Only other ultra experience to date some shorter FKT efforts, this will be his longest run to date. At the SDW50 he stated intention to look for a sub 13 hour finish so we could see some fireworks here!
James Williams: James was our 2018 Autumn 100 champ in a time of 15:18 and later that year went on to a second place at the Wendover Woods 50. After an unsuccesful attempt at Lejog he looks to have only raced once, a 5th at Country to Capital in 2020.
Justin Montague: A true stalwart of the scene and one of the nicest guys on the circuit. Justin was a prolific racer almost a decade ago, packing 2012 and 2013 with race wins, podiums and top tens. In fact he was 2nd at our second ever edition of the North Downs Way 100. He then went through some health problems and took a period out of the sport, before re-emerging with the same vigiour he showed before. Top results in more recent years include a win at Devon Coast to Coast, 2nd at the Ridgeway Challenge and wins at numerous XNRG multi stage events.
Pete Windross: Winner of this very event in 2018 with a 15:49 on route to a Grand Slam 100 mile crown. He has subsequently had some solid results at 24hr track events, and a third place at the SDW50 already this year.
Ed Catmur: Ed is coming back. Having been one of our most regular competitors and multi time champion at 100s over the years including a course record at the North Downs Way 100 and then the win here in 2014, Ed hit some injury woes and spent a long time running events but finishing well down the pack. Over the last couple of year, steady improvement has returned to the stage where in October 2020 he ran a 100 mile PB of 15:38 coming home second at the Autumn 100. He was also 6th at this event last year. Can he bring it back all the way again?
Sebastian Betouret: 5:33 at Country to Capital last weekend for 3rd. Experienced guy with nearly 10 years and 50 events of solid finishes at a wide range of events. 17:47 for 100 miles at Gloucester last year.
Sean Collum: 8th at Race to the Stones. 227km Suffolk Backyard Ultra. Finisher of Barkley Fall Classic in an impressive 9:22.
Simon Booth: Winner of the Robin Hood 100 in 2019 in 17:22.
Fumiaka Imamura: 50th at the NDW100 last year seems to be an anomalous result. This year he won the 47 mile Peddars Way Ultra. Past results include second at Hardwolds 80, 5th at SVP100km and two top 5s at the Stort 30.
Richard Wilson: 6th at the Autumn 100 last year
Julien Cazorla: 7th at SDW50 2021
Anna Troup: Anna's victory list includes races among the top tier of UK events including Lakeland 100, Arc of Attrition and of course Wendover Woods 100! Where she was our only sub 24hr female finisher. She struggled with injury issues in 2020, but we really hope she is back to full strength for this one.
Zoe Murphy: With just a couple of ultras to her name until 2020, she ran home for the win at last October's Autumn 100 in a time of 18:23.
Zoe Murphy on route to winning the 2020 Autumn 100 (Photo c/o Stuart March Photography)
Melissa Montague: Melissa is a super experiened ultra runner with a huge number of wins and podiums to her name. Alongside too many victories at XNRG multi stage events to count she has won the Ridgeway 86 (and finished second there twice in addition) and has a third at Autumn 100 to her name. Victories in shorter lower key ultras are too numerous to count.
Rebecca Ferry: Rebecca looks to have raced all over the world at some of the marquee ultras out there and had some excellent finishes. Most notable - In 2020 she won the Coastal Challenge Costa Rica. In 2019 she won Country to Capital.
Jennifer Sangster: 5th at the South Downs Way 100 in 2017 in 19:45 following a 4th place at the SDW50 that same year. More recently 5th at the Thames Trot 2020.
Karla Borland: Karla won the Weald Challenge 50km in 2018. Prior to that she was also second at Race to the King.
Lorna Spayne: Not too many ultras to her name but some super results in amongst them. Second at Race Race's 'The Wall' Ultra. Winner of Maverick's Ultra Peak District Last Year. Two top five finishes at Dark Star River.
Follow the race live from the link here including tracking of all runners every step of the way - 0700-0930 start on Saturday morning (link will go live closer to race day).