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.