Could this be the most competitive men's/ women's Centurion 100 miler yet?
The start list for this Saturday's A100 is chock full of solid experienced runners who will all have their eye on the prize. Perhaps the men's field contains a clear favourite in repeat Centurion 100 mile Champ Ed Catmur, but there isn't otherwise a stand out name that looks set to run away from the rest of the field. The battle behind Ed looks set to be an epic, with the chance that if Ed suffers his usual late race fade, he may be overhauled....
In the ladies race, we have Sally Ford - winner of all 3 previous 100s in 2015 and going for the Slam with a 4th title, up against reigning champ and course record holder Sarah Morwood. What a battle this could be. Behind those two and similar to the men's field, there is a good number of exciting solid female runners who will be waiting in the wings should things not go as per the script....
As usual with this course, nothing matters until mile 50. The first loop times we see are usually off the scale leading to some almighty blow ups late in the day. Perhaps this race more than any other lures people in to neglecting their pacing. We'll see who emerges on top once the carnage has time to unfold but one thing is for sure, look for many of the early leaders to fade in the second half.
Ed Catmur: 2013 Champ, 2nd in 2014. A man with a 2:32 marathon PB and so much experience is capable of running close to 14hrs on this course, and perhaps this is his race. Ed won the NDW100 in 18:02 a couple of months ago but slowed greatly in the final stages. At last years W100 his 3:03 opening lap was followed up by a 5:56 final spur. If he can run a solid final 25 he can and should be running clear of the field as usual.
Ed at our very first event in 2011
Dave Ross: The journeyman. Dave's odyssey of racing continues on in relentless fashion. The Grand Slam record holder is looking for his 5th 100 mile finish of 2015, and comes off of the back of the Stage Coach 100 just 2 weeks ago. Can he recover in time to race as hard as usual? Almost certainly.
Duncan Oakes: Perhaps the most solid performer in the field. Duncan's last handful of 100 mile results read 1st NDW100, 5th CWC, 1st AofA, 3rd WHW, 3rd LL100. You can't argue with that. He perhaps doesn't have the out and out pace of Ed, but he'll be competitive all the way to the finish and fades less hard than most.
Ed Egelie: This man has 3 finishes to his name on this course including a 17:44 in 2013. He has reached new heights this year and is running his best season yet. Look out for him to break the 17hr barrier.
Ollie Stoten: Ollie has a couple of 100 mile finishes to his name and 2015 wins at the T60 night race as well as a very impressive early season victory at Country to Capital. Getting stronger every year, can he go all the way this time.
Sam Robson: Originally in for the Slam but stopping during the first 2, Sam's form is an unknown but he has some fine results historically to fall back on.
Peter Kaminsky: 2015 SDW100 Champ after Stellan ran off course with 5 miles to go, and behind Sally Ford in the overall Grand Slam standings for 2015 by jus 26 mins, he'll have his eye on two prizes here....
Barry Miller: Barry brought home 3rd at this event in 17:14 in 2013. He's since gone on to finish the US Slam and ran Western States this summer. If he's in shape he'll be hoping to repeat perhaps his best ever run from a couple of years ago.
Barry during the 2013 Event
Warwick Gooch: A super solid runner with lots of 100 mile(+) experience, similar to Duncan, he rarely fades and knows how to get it done mentally. Still remembered foremost for his stellar Caesars Camp win in 2012.
Ziggy Stardust: Zig, the salty ol' dog, has a couple of half decent results to his name, but comes in to this looking for 'a different view on things'. If he starts which is not yet a given, it'll be more about his celebrity pacer than him.
Linn Erixon Sahlstrom: Linn ran close to Sarah and Debbie in the 2014 edition of this event before dropping. She has some good results behind her including wins at CTS Sussex and the Imber Ultra in 2015 - she'll be looking for retribution here.
Sarah Morwood: Reigning champ and with mostly extremely good results in 2015. She picked up the wins at the SDW50, Race to the Stones and just a couple of weeks ago the 3 x 3000 up in the Lakes. These amongst others. A DNF at UTMB may play on her mind a little but unlikely, she's always smiling and is a joy to have at events but is a fierce competitor and she will want to win this one.
Sarah flying in 2014
Sally Ford: Champ at the first 3 x 100s of 2015 including most recently a course record at the NDW100. She'll be looking to make it the Slam of wins, but also finish first outright in the Slam overall by holding on to her 26 min advantage over second place Peter Kaminsky.
Sarah Sawyer: Sarah bagged her first 100 mile finish at the TP100 this year, and went on to win RTP Ecuador this summer. Look out for a strong second half and for her to close down anyone ahead.
Wendy Shaw: This must be Wendy's 11th or 12th feature in a Pre Race Preview. She perhaps doesn't have the speed against the front 2, but she knows how to get it done and finish strong. Has well over 1000 Centurion miles to her name. Experience counts for so much here.
As usual if anyone is missing that you feel warrants a mention please do leave a comment. Live timings will be available on the website during the event.