The penultimate race of our 2014 season is upon us, the 3rd edition of the Winter 100. With it's new home in the middle of October, the conditions this year should in theory favour faster times, however race day in 2013 was blessed with cold, sunny and crisp weather through the day allowing for some very quick early pacing from the leaders. That gave way to some monumental blow ups later on in the race!
This year we have very strong fields in both the mens and womens races. Below is a quick preview of some of those, as always this is just an off the cuff and very brief insight with factual errors possible, even likely. Feel free to add comments to this and help us expand on the story.
Ed has taken home winners trophy's from the W100, NDW100 and TP100. He won this race in 2013, setting off at a blistering pace running a sub 3 first marathon, before later slowing and almost allowing a chasing Matt Winn Smith a glimpse of the lead. As Ed is wont to do however, he kep going and even pulled something back in the final few miles to come home in a time of 16:05. He's raced an incredible amount this year and has been first to admit thats' taken its toll on his results on occassion. Which Ed will we see next weekend?
This years Lakeland 100 winner, Marco has taken his running to a new level in the last couple of years recording some truly world class performances. Over 24hrs last year, he ran furthest of any GB runner clocking 248km at Tooting Bec. Earlier this year he ran 145km in 12hrs at Crawley and set a new course record on the Glasgow-Edinburgh Double Marathon in 6:19. An experienced international, you might argue the predominantly flat track of the winter 100 will suit him. Look out for Marco to be up front from very early on in the race.
Matt Winn Smith:
Matt took 2nd place to Ed in 2013, running 16:40 for 10 minute miling on the nose. Whilst he was pleased with his effort, the best thing was the closing pace he was able to produce, giving Ed an initial scare before the leader was able to dig again and find a little more to take it home. Matt was crowned Double Ironman World Champion this August and trains in all three disciplines to an incredible level. Look out for him to go faster than last year.
Dave is an ever present on the UK marathon scene and has undoubtedly seen an improvement in his performances over the last 18 months across all distances. Able to knock out a 3hr marathon week in week out, he's also produced his 2 best comrades times of 10+ runs in the last 2 years, and set a massive 100 mile PB at the SDW100 earlier this summer running just under 16hrs. He literally only needs to finish the race to be under Mark Fox's Grand Slam record of 83:32, with 53:21 Dave's total time for 3 100s in 2014. An astoundingly consistent level of performance. Of course Dave will be most worried about fending off those behind him in the Grand Slam race this year, but he has an almost 4hr lead on second place Jeremy Isaac. Dave has also recently finished the Wasatch 100 in the US which will give him 5 100's in 2014. Dave's biggest enemy is his own pacing. He runs from the front and very hard indeed. For a long time that led to blow up after blow up, but this year something has changed and Dave has managed to hold on better towards the back end of events such that he really is in contention.
Duncan won our NDW100 in August, just 2 weeks after placing in the top 10 at the Lakeland 100. In fact he has raced 4 100 milers since June including the SDW100 and the Cotswold Way Centuries - placing in the top 10 in all 4. As a result he may not be quite as fresh as some of the others but he proved at the NDW100 that he is able to compete irrespective. It will be fascinating to see what he can deliver here.
Ryan hasn't raced much at all of late. Having won our inaugural SDW100 in 2012 in 17:04, he suffered an injury which left him on the sidelines for a long time. He recently turned in an Ironman PB however, well under 10hrs. He could be the dark horse here. Who knows what he might be able to put out on the day.
Paul has picked up back to back 2nd places at the Ridgeway 85 in 13 and 14, running 15:30 and 14:14 this August. He is no stranger to this trail and can hold a terrific pace over the long stuff. Will local knowledge play in to his hands here....
Others to look out for: TP100 2nd place finisher (2013) and 2014 Viking Way Winner Luke Ashton. NDW100 3rd place finisher Jeremy Isaac. 2012 Caesars Camp 100 champ Warwick Gooch.
Debs' list of accolades grows with each passing year. She prepares meticulously each time she races and as such has some of the most consistent results of any female ultra-athlete in recent years. A member of the GB24hr team, Debs's best as a national team runner is 220km, but she showed that she can do it over shorter time frames too this year, after she ran 129km in 12hrs at Crawley in April (a British best). She then went on to win the Lakeland 100 this July. Previously Debs has also won the Thames Path 100 (2013) and perhaps most memorably the Grand Union Canal Run outright in 2012 with a women's course record of 28:01. As a Centurion Ultra Team Runner she will be looking to take home her second Centurion trophy and a third 'double win' for the Consani family in 2014 to boot.
Sarah has had three particularly outstanding results this year, a win at both the Thames Path 100 and South Downs Way 100's, and an 11th female placing at UTMB in August. She's learning each time she runs the 100 mile distance and as such could make for an incredible race between herself and Debbie. Certainly Sharon Law's record could be in danger if both push the pace all day.
Wendy strung together some records that may not ever be broken at Centurion events. She placed on the podium at all 4 of our 100s in 2013, with 3 more top 5's before or since. After coming unstuck with just 4 miles to go at the NDW100 she will be hungry to avenge that and much like Dave, to finally break her run and take her first win.
Team CR and Inov8 athlete Robbie Britton shares his top 5 tips for the NDW100. Rob won the inaugural event in 2011.
1. Walk those hills - Most of the hills on the NDW100, especially in the first half, are shorter, steeper hills that are best walked so don't even try to run them. Use them as a chance to get some food out, get water on board and enjoy some guilt free walking.
2. Eat Drink and Be Merry. The Centurion Events have checkpoints at great distances and they are all really well stocked so get your money's worth and stuff your face at every given opportunity. An extra 30-60 seconds at a check point each time may save you hours at the other end of the race. Eat from the go, cross that start line with a pasty in your mouth.
3. Electrolytes - It's August and may get rather toasty. I use S-caps and have one a hour with water, meaning that however much a bashing I give my tastebuds I don't have to worry about getting my electrolytes in as you might with some of the favoured tabs you can get sick off. Keep at the electrolytes during the night, you'll still be sweating.
4. Talk to people! There will be a great bunch of people racing, with a whole bundle of experience. Not only might you learn what to do (and what not to do) it helps pass the time and lets the race tick through.
5. Get a good head torch. When I did the NDW100 I had a five quid torch (which I had stolen from work) and I fell over about five times and lost time overnight because I was nervous with my footing. Get a decent headtorch, such as a Petzl Tikka RXP, and shine that badger all over the trail.
Running and racing year round in the UK, the 'right' trail shoe for me has always been the one which handles the best across the broadest range of underfoot conditions. Training routes almost irrespective of where you are in the UK (outside of the mountains) often combine a mixture of road, track, trail and field. A shoe needs to be able to handle all of those things well. Specificity is great but a utility shoe is important given where I live and run.
In a similar vein, it's rare to find one's self running an ultra which is all single track, all open grass or all gravel. Quite often, runners at our events often show up if conditions are dry, in road shoes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the non-mountainous areas of the UK where rocks are not an issue, a road shoe will often handle dry trails as well as a trail specific shoe.
That being said if conditions are either wet or muddy, most runners will turn to a trail shoe and the choice available is mind boggling and greater than ever.
Our Ultrarunning Team have been working with Lyon Equipment in the Lake District and La Sportiva over the last couple of years, on their range of mountain and trail shoes. At the end of 2012, the La Sportiva range included mainly much heavier duty trail shoes, designed to cope with the underfoot conditions thrown up by running in the Alps and the Dolomites, something that didn't necessarily apply to the majority of our UK trails.
Then, in 2013, La Sportiva took on board many of the comments from the market and created a couple of more reduced models which retained the key aspects of their light and heavyweight mountain running models. Those things and the things I myself look for in an all round trail shoe are:
- Comfort from short trail runs up to very long days out on the trail or in the mountains.
- Also able to handle road or track
- Lightweight without compromising on protection
When Neil Bryant and I were first handed the advance model of this shoe in early 2013, we felt that we were looking at perhaps the perfect answer for an a minimal around trail shoe. La Sportiva had combined their incredibly lightweight Vertical K model with the heavier mountain running designs of the Wildcat and the Raptor. Rather than be a compromise, this shoe held on to the best assets of all three and has subsequently become the go-to utility trail and ultra race shoe for the some of our team. Dan Doherty raced to 3rd overall at the Salomon Zuggspitz 100km just a few weeks ago in them.
Upper: The first thing that strikes you when you pick up this shoe is the weight and that's in large part due to the light weight mesh upper which allows for good drainage of water without letting in excess debris. The lacing system is integrated with the upper and pulls the shoe together really nicely for a close but comfortable fit. The tongue is thick and cushioned, perhaps a confusing aspect of the shoe, until you run in areas with scores of loose rocks (the Lakes/ Snowdonia). It might sound utterly ridiculous but if you've ever really booted a rock with the top of your foot, as I regularly do in the Lakes, some cushioning on the upper is actually incredibly beneficial.
Mid-Sole: A great balance of cushioning and support. There is some arch support but the LaSpeva plate makes the shoe sit on that middle ground I talked about between being too rigid and too soft. It gives control, adds fluidity to your gait and works on all terrain types, including rocks.
Out Sole: Here is the best part of the shoe. The sole is made up of La Sportiva's Frixion material, laid out in rubber grips including indents going back and forward on the sole. The level of ground contact is significant enough to offer grip on all trail types including mud and rocks, yet not too broad to turn the shoes in to skates on wet grass/ mud. Non-studded trail shoes often perform very poorly on wet grass but the Helios indents give enough grip to offer confidence.
Sizing: The shoe comes up slightly small and if you are between sizes it's worth considering going half a size/ a size bigger than you usually would. In fact i'd say the same for all LS models.
Overall the shoe is light, but doesn't feel inadequate. It includes a level of protection through the mid-sole which will handle most all terrain types. The upper is comfortable and can be drawn in as tight as you like. And the out sole is the grippy, responsive and great on all underfoot conditions. The shoe could easily be worn for long periods of time on any terrain including road, making it for me the go to Ultra Trail shoe of the moment. I would describe it as the perfect trail shoe for those looking for the balance of lightweight and comfort with all round terrain handling.
I asked one or two of the team to let me know what they think of the shoe. I should add that we operate a very honest policy with Lyon and La Sportiva and until now have felt that the majority of their models were simply too much shoe for running here in the UK.
I have run nearly all my life in Asics shoes and have really struggled to find an off road shoe that works for me. I have worn shoes by other brands and for various reasons they have not worked for me so I was somewhat sceptical when the Helios arrived. Before I even tried them on I was impressed with the lightness of the shoe. After my first run in these shoes I realised I had finally discovered the off road shoe for me, it seemed to stick to the trail, despite of its light weight it is still a sturdy shoe and it even feels on home on the road. For me its a trail shoe that feels like a road shoe and are perfect for me. I would happily buy these shoes!
I recently heard an experienced ultra runner refer to the Bushido as 'a mix of the helios and cross-lite on steroids'. The cross lite was La Sportiva's answer to a combination fell & trail running shoe. The studded outsole and rock plate made it ideal for handling mountain terrain as well as open fell/ grass, without being too heavy to be slow. The sole made the handling on wet rock and flatter track / tarmac for long periods just too uncomfortable however. It was a more specific shoe.
The Bushido walks that mid point between the lightweight Helios/ Vertical K and the more specific mountain shoes like the Cross Lite. It is another all round trail shoe with some slightly more enhanced features to the helios and some runners will undoubtedly find greater confidence, handling and support from this model.
Upper: Similar to the helios, a light weight mesh which allows for good drainage of water without letting in excess debris. The lacing system is integrated with the upper and pulls the shoe together really nicely for a close but comfortable fit.
Mid-Sole: 6mm drop and at 278 grams the overall shoe would probably be best described as mid-weight. It's not too light, and it's not too heavy. The rock plate is fantastic, giving a comfortable ride on rougher ground, enhanced by stabilisation plates on either side of the mid foot. This makes for a heavier shoe but a more stable ride and therefore a step up from the Helios on loose/ large rocks for those looking to feel more confidence on that type of ground.
Out Sole: Here is the significant enhancement on the helios. Again made up of La Sportiva's Frixion material, but this time with rubber indents around the outside of the sole as well as through the middle. The grip is greater than with the helios with a stickier mid sole, La Sportiva's impact braking system.
Overall the shoe is again a perfect all rounder across all terrain types but being slightly heavier and grippier than the Helios it's better suited to those used to a more stable ride and those looking to spend longer hours on rougher terrain.
The 2014 South Downs Way 100 sponsored by Petzl is just 4 days away. The line up on both the male and female sides looks extremely competitive and exciting. With a prize purse of £1800 courtesy of the title sponsor we're expecting a stellar race to match the deep field who will start their 100 mile journeys this coming Saturday.
As always please feel free to comment below and add your thoughts and corrections as you like.
Stuart Mills: Has owned most of the South Downs Way events over recent years with wins and course records abound at Beachy Head, the SDW Marathon, Three Forts and the Steyning Stinger. This is his back yard living has he does within sight of the course. Lakeland 100 was his A race in 2013 and he took the win there in trademark fashion going as hard as he could from the gun and hanging on for 21 hours. A niggle picked up at this years Stinger took him out of the SDW50 running and a slower Fellsman than he would perhaps have liked may mean he isn't quite 100%. The young bucks behind will try to overhaul the grand master but will he continue to show them all how it's done?
Mark Perkins: 2013 SDW50 Champ, 3rd at this years SDW50 in a superb 6:24. 2nd at this years Three Forts in a sub3 time for the 3rd all time fastest there. His first 100 mile race at last years NDW100 didn't go entirely to plan so he will want to combine his first class knowledge of the course with his short speed and longer run endurance. He's my pick for the overall this time.
Robin Houghton: Looks capable of anything after he won this years Three Forts ahead of Mark Perkins in a blazing fast 2:57. 28:20hrs at UTMB in 2013 put him 72nd overall. Speed and endurance, he is no stranger to either.
Ed Catmur: Ed has won the last 3 Centurion 100 mile events. Need I say more? Ed's only downside is his love of racing, something he is the first to acknowledge he does a little too much of. If he is rested after Comrades he will be looking for number 4, certainly to continue his assault on the Grand Slam record and this years overall title.
Richard La Cock: This years NDW50 champion in a superb 2nd fastest all time performance. He will want to apply that to the 100 here, adding to his other tremendous SDW50 race in this years calendar.
Warwick Gooch: Warwick's run at the TP100 left him short of what he perhaps knew he was capable of but the 2012 Caesars Camp 100 mile winner has plenty of experience now and will want to better that performance significantly here.
Richard Ashton: A late non-starter due to ongoing injury he will be sorely missed from the front end shake up.
Sharon Law: 2013 Winter 100 champion, regular GB 24hr team member and Scottish 24hr and 200km record holder. IAU European 24hr bronze medalist with 226km. Sharon can run trail, road and track and seeing how close she can get to Jean Beaumonts stunning 2013 record will be fascinating to watch.
Emily Gelder: 2011, 2012, 2013 UK 100km champion. 2012 3rd at World 24hr with 238km. 2010 Spartathlon Champ. If this were on the road Emily would be the outstanding favourite. Can she convert it to the trail for this one.
Karen Hathaway: GB 24hr team member and winner of the 2013 Caesars Camp 100, Karen brings some excellent pre season form in to this one with a recent great result in the Crawley 12hr. She can do it on trail and on the track so will undoubtedly be looking for at least a podium here.
Sarah Morwood: This years TP100 champ in sub 20hrs was a late entry before the books closed for the SDW100. If she has hung on to her form then look for her to go hard from the start and push the pace.
Susie Casebourne: Susie's talent has been lurking in the background and one day soon she is going to nail a long one. She won Caesars Camp 50 last year with a new womens course record and brings an international triathlon career with her to the table. Will this be her breakthrough in the long stuff?
Wendy Shaw: How could a pre race preview be a preview without Wendy? Wendy continues her streak of Centurion events, I have genuinely lost count now but I think I make this number 7 on the trot.... and with podiums at the majority of those she has been looking for that win for a long time and wants it badly. The pace may be a little hot for her in this field but any slip ups and she is guaranteed to be there.
The first race of our 2014 season kicks off Saturday April 5th and without a shadow of a doubt, this is our most competitive starting field to date. A long list of runners will be heading in to race day with a chance of a Top 10 finish, but the few below will have aspirations of going much better than that. Expect both the mens and womens records to come down significantly, especially if the trail is dry and weather is kind. Above all else it's fantastic to see the level of competition in UK ultras rising.
Stuart Mills: Undisputed king of the South Downs circuit in recent years, Stuart Mills is something of a legend in the sport. Wins and course records on South Downs events are his speciality including the Steyning Stinger, Beachy Head Marathon,2:09 South Downs Marathon and Three Forts. Last year possibly the biggest result of his recent career came as he won the Lakeland 100 in signature style, going out as hard as possible and hanging tough for as long as he can. It's a race approach which has left many dumb founded, but is often supported by one simple fact, he often wins! He'll be looking to do a few things: Overcome his early season disappoinment in not finishing the Steyning Stinger due to a fall, set himself up nicely for his assault on the SDW100 in June and take home a win in the process. As Stuart gets a little older he'll want to continue to run for overall wins for as long as he can, but are we going to see the young guard and increasing depth of talent finally start to give him a race.
Textbook Millsy start at the 2014 Steyning Stinger, out of shot before the rest of us have time to look up! Photo c/o Sussex Sport Photography.com
Paul Navesey: Without wishing to sound biased given that Paul is both a Centurion Ultra Team Runner and a good friend, this boy is the most talented 50 mile trail runner we have in the South East. The downs are his back yard and he knows every blade of grass on the course. With flat marathon speed (2013 2:41 Amsterdam) and previous 50 mile Course Records behing him (Caesars Camp) he has enjoyed a consistent period of training whilst resisting the urge to over race, a mistake made by so many. With over a dozen wins behind him, and a low 6s 50 on very little effort, he will be wanting to PR, CR and take home the crown if it's his day.
Paul Navesey flying in textbook fashion.
Marty Rea: 3rd at the SDW50 in 2013, Marty is an Irish National 100km runner with a PB of 7:21 and is working towards his main focus of 2014, the SDW100. A 2:37 marathoner and winner of the UltraRace Cardiff 50, London 50km and Himalayan 100 mile stage race in the past he has the speed and endurance.
Paul Sargent: Winner of the 2013 Three Forts ahead of notably, SDW50 champ Mark Perkins, Paul has a number of other local trail marathon/ ultra wins behind him and will no doubt figure at the sharp end.
Mark Perkins: Returning champ and Course Record holder with a 6:55 in 2013 in poor conditions for the second half. He undoubtedly has the ability to go quicker this year. Early season he raced the shortened Thames Trot finishing 3rd and will want to go better than that this time out.
Richard Ashton: Rick is one of the most mentally tough runners out there. He also has the running talent to go with it. With a 2nd at the Lakeland 50 in 2013, a 3rd at his first ever 100 (TP100 2013) and an early season win at the St Peters Way Ultra (45 miles), Centurion Ultra Teams biggest fan will be looking to upset the apple cart and take home his first Centurion trophy.
Paul Radford: Paul ran a 2nd place at the Ridgeway 85 mile in 2013, with a super time of 15:30 and has a list of other top finishes to his name including multiple wins at UK trail marathons.
Amongst those with previous ultra/ trail marathon wins behind them who will likely feature in top 10 standings includes: Paul Bennett (Steyning Stinger, VO2 SDW), Martin Bacon (TP100), Nick Greene (Peddars Way), Doug Murray (NDW50 2nd),
Helen Taranowski: Helen's long distance pedigree is well known and she is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. She was the 2012 IAU 50km World Trophy - gold medal winner in a time of 3:30, the Al Andalus Ultra Trail 2010 winner and is the current 6 hour track - UK record holder with 78.776km.
Edwina Sutton: Expect this to be the name you see topping international ultra fields in years to come. Eddie came in to ultra running from a career in Iron distance triathlon where she enjoyed tremendous Age Group Success. In 2013, new to the sport, she picked up wins at Salisbury 50km (CR), Three Forts Marathon (CR) and Steyning Stinger, and then stamped her mark speed wise with a 4:49 and 3rd overall (1st lady & CR) at the 38 mile Downslink ultra. This year she joined the Centurion Ultra Team and has subsequently raced just once in January, where she obliterated the 44 mile Country to Capital course record, again for 3rd overall and 1st lady.
Eddie on route to winning the 2013 Three Forts Marathon. Photo c/o Sussex Sport Phtography.com
Susie Casebourne: Susie led the 2013 event until the final turn where, in terrible conditions, she made a wrong turn which cost her the eventual win. She went on to make amends later in the year with a 4th at the South Downs 100 in 20hrs and a fine course record run at Caesars Camp 50 looking in control throughout. This is all a transition from years as a top level GB triathlete. Expect her to be there or thereabouts come track time.
Kirsty Reade: Kirsty has a long line of trail marathon podiums and wins behind her over recent years and notably ran 190km in the Basel 24hr in 2013 proving she has the endurance as well as the speed.
Sarah Perkins: Joint winner of the shortened 2014 Thames Trot and 5th overall, most notably a result she shared with Emily Canvin who won both our 50 mile events in 2013. Sarah will be looking to emulate husband Mark and possibly take a pair of trophies home with them :)
There are sure to be a number of top level contenders missing from the above so please comment away below and add others to the mix!
This is the second of a three part blog post about ultrarunning in 2013. This first part focused on UK Ultrarunning Performances of the Year and can be found here. This second part will focus on the top 10 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.
It simply isn't possible to touch on even a fraction of the incredible stories we see unfold each time we hold an event. These are the top 10 performances in our opinion. The majority of these are from those battling the sharp end of the field. The resilience displayed through those battling for the One Day buckle and the overall cut offs is in many cases even more impressive in a very different way. To honour all of those people would be frankly impossible.
Please note, rather than re-write the entries for runners that also featured in the overall UK Performances of the Year (Ed Catmur, Jean Beaumont, Robbie Britton) these are replicated below.
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 running 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. 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.
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.
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.
Ann Bath, Grand Slam
In 2012 when we held the Centurion Grand Slam of 100s for the first time, we were astounded when Ken Fancett raced his way to the overall fastest cumulative time and 4 x sub 24hr finishes. It wasn't just his overall performance but the fact that he was also by far the eldest Slam entrant at 62 years of age. This year Ann Bath went on to prove that age is of little consequence when going long, as she went on to breeze through the Grand Slam in a master class of pacing and effort management. Her cumulative time of 117.27 included 4 finishes all between 29:07 and 29:34. Plenty of times throughout the year Ann doubted in the latter stages of events that she would have the time she needed to complete. But complete she did, every time. At 64 years of age Ann became our oldest Grand Slammer and smiled her way from the start of the year to the end of it.
Anthony Forsyth, NDW100
Anthony together with Ann, is the only runner in our list who didn't win the event he ran. On any other day he might have walked away with a massive margin of victory in this years NDW100, except for one factor, Ed Catmur. Anthony battled Ed all day and for the full 100 miles. In his first effort at the distance, he pulled off an astoundingly strong performance, running a 16:03. Anthony made the event the epic battle it was, pushing Ed to his limit and forming a crucial part of one of the closest fought races we've seen at the sharp end of one of our events. He trained exceptionally hard and poured everything he had in to what was an exceptional debut 100 miler.
Craig Holgate, NDW50
Craig, one of our Centurion Ultrarunning Team, still holds the title of fastest ever Centurion 100 miler, an honour he earned when he ran a 15:11 at the 2012 Thames Path 100. In 2013 he also became our fastest ever 50 miler, during May's NDW50. Unbelievably this wasn't an 'A' race for Craig, with focus primarily on representing Team GB at both 100km and at the World Trail Champs in 2013. That being said Craig doesn't race unless he's in to win and this was no exception. With a course that runs approximately 1 mile long, he held a flat 8 minute miling pace for the race to win by 40 minutes. What made it even more of an exceptional run was that Craig finished just as fast as he started. At mile 24, Box Hill, he held a three minute lead over his rivals, but whilst the others paid for the early pace, he stretched his legs and ran a faultless race putting 35 minutes in to the Course Record. Time will tell how good a run this really was.
Emily Canvin, NDW50
Emily came in to the NDW50 off of the back of a win at the SDW50 6 weeks earlier. Emily would be the first to admit that her run there whilst excellent, only gained her the win after a navigational error from Susie Casebourne within sight of the finish. Her run at the NDW50 however was exceptional. She looked focused from the outset and held a frenetic pace throughout, running a 7:49 for 5th place overall, 1st lady and wiping 20 minutes off of Alice Hectors previous best for the distance (as part of her NDW100 CR in 2012).
Terrence Zengerink/ Ben Hall, Piece of String Fun Run
When we set the Piece of String Fun Run off on November 29th, we promptly stopped the 13 runners again just 100 yards up the trail. We then popped them on a minibus and with no idea of their final destination, delivered the entrants to the Kennett and Avon Canal Path in Bath. We were amazed at the resilience displayed by this years valued idiots, with 7 of the starters making it to the 100 mile point, with absolutely no idea where they were headed next or how long this would go on for. As Tim Landon who had a commanding lead, crashed out with an injury around 105 miles in, Terrence Zengerink promptly gained control of the race and forged ahead seemingly unphased by the continued misery piled upon him. Behind him, Benjamin Hall had paced himself gradually all day, night and day again and was in for the duration it seemed In to his second night of the race, Terrence was met by co-RD James Adams on the trail and offered the next section of the course. Little did Terrence know, but he would be stopped just 100 metres further on. His choice was to continue for potentially 15 extra miles (at least) or stop, the same decision he had been faced with a dozen times already. He chose to continue and in doing so became the first to finish and 3rd ever only finisher of the Piece of String. An hour or so later Benjamin Hall arrived at the same point. With Terrence hiding in the car so as not to give the game away, Ben took his time, refueled and pushed on to be met with the same outcome. Could you run 130 miles and then choose to continue in to your second full night of running with no sleep and no idea how much futher you had to go? If the answer is yes I'd suggest you apply for next years PoS Fun Run....
Sharon Law, Winter 100
Sharon ran one of the smartest, most balanced 100 mile efforts we've seen from a champion this year. The pace at the start of the 2013 Winter 100 was frenetic with scores of runners returning off of the first 25 mile leg in blistering time, Sharon used all of her experience to maintain her relaxed but supremely efficient strategy, not pausing at aid stations and running smooth and steady throughout. At the 75 mile mark she finally overtook Charlotte Black who went on to an excellent 2nd place in her debut 100 miler, and opened up on the final 25 to finish 10th overall in 18:44.
Ed Catmur, Winter 100
The only person to feature twice in our performances of the year. Ed started the Winter 100 at what can only be described as suicide pace. He ran like he wasn't afraid of anything, with a 15:44 at the NDW100 behind him and numerous other marathon/ ultra wins under his belt in 2013 he wanted to go out with a bang and went all in. On a dry course in perfect conditions he destroyed the first 100km of the course and looked set to run well under 15 hours. As it turned out, Ed lost his stomach coming back in to the final 25 mile out and back. That happens in 100 mile running. Ed's performance to this point was stellar enough, but it was the way he fought through that final 25 miles, being chased down by Matt Winn Smith who closed to within 30 minutes at the 87.5 mile point that nets him this second mention. Holding a 10 minute mile pace whilst running practically bent double with cramping isn't easy at the best of times, but he overcame huge adversity to finish with a 16:05. The 5th fastest time at any of our 100s.
Martin Bacon TP100, Debbie Martin-Consani TP100, Wendy Shaw Grand Slam, Mark Fox Grand Slam.
Whilst just outside the top 10 performances of the year, the above four get special mention. Martin had been knocking on the door of a 100 mile victory for some time. He finally got it right at the 2013 TP100. In awful conditions he drew on all of his experience and hung on to fend off the younger competition by a few minutes at the death, heading home with the trophy he had dreamed of for some time. Debbie ran a super solid race through the mud, rain and sitting water executing faultless race day strategy to record her first Centurion win and educated the remainder of the field in the art of how to race a 100 mile trail race. Wendy and Mark ran smart and smooth Grand Slams, significantly bettering the current record held by Ken Fancett. Wendy's incredible consistency continued as she went on to her 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th consecutive Centurion 100 mile podiums. Mark recorded a stellar SDW100 performance in 4 solid sub 24hr efforts and is the current record holder for the 4 events at 83:32, volunteering at the two 50 milers to complete a unique slam of all 6 events.