The eighth running of the Chiltern Wonderland 50 took place this last weekend. The 50 mile loop which starts and finishes in Goring on Thames takes our runners through some stunning, quintessentially English countryside. With great views across the rolling hills and valleys, it really is one of our most beautiful routes.
218 runners congregated on the banks of the Thames for the 0830 start. Amongst them were 35 Grand Slam 50 mile hopefuls on the last leg of their four race journey.
At the sharp end, the womens race looked deep and competitive, whilst the mens looked relatively wide open and in fact the entire field was led over the first 10km by Samantha Amend, arguably the strongest athlete across both races. A huge pack followed within a minute or so and that included last years CW50 womens champion Sophie Biggs.
Over the ensuing miles, a calf strain that Sam was carrying worsened and she was forced to call it a day around 20 miles in, which left Sophie out in front. But it was no walk in the park from there. As the sun rose together with the high humidity, conditions were tough through the early afternoon and during that middle third, Stacey Sangster began to close Sophie down, getting as close as six minutes by CP4 at Swyncombe - mile 33. Sophie however found enough of a kick over that final section to extend her lead back out and crossed the line 16 minutes ahead of Stacey. Unfortunately, the 2022 champion was missing mandatory kit at the finish and much like the situation we had at the SDW100 earlier this year, the one hour time penalty had to be applied, which took her down to fourth place. As harsh as this may seem, the rules are there for a reason and every runner must carry all of the kit from start to finish, whether they are first or last on course. To Sophie's immense credit she took it in extremely good grace. That left Stacey as this years champion in a finishing time of 8:21.
Second place went to Laura McGill in 8:44, a mere two seconds ahead of Tamsin Neale as the two raced through the village at the end with Tamsin admitting she just didn't quite have the legs to fend off the surging Laura at the last. Fantastic racing all round.
In the mens race, the huge early pack held steady for most of the first section to Tokers Green, the first check point, with Tom Hedges reaching there first. Then as things split up, Ash Varley forged ahead in a move that wouldn't ever be countered as he ran steady throughout the remainder of the course to hold on to his first Centurion win in a time of 7:29.
Tom held on for second in 7:35, having hovered just around 5 minutes back from Ashley for most of the last hour or so making for a tense finish for those dot watching. Third place went to Allan Clarke in 7:55, his second podium with us this year after finishing third at the SDW100 in June.
In the age categories, awards went to the following:
FV40 to the overall womens winner Stacey Sangster. FV50 to Laura Mcgill.
MV40 went to Rob Feline in 8:04. MV50 to David Stevenson in 9:36. MV60 to Vladimir Valesskiy in 9:46. MV70 to Kenneth Fancett in 11:05.
For possibly the only time ever, this was the final result in the 50 mile Grand Slam, with Wendover Woods 50 reverting back to its normal position in the calendar for 2024 (November). 35 athletes started the race with the dream of finishing all four and 34 of them made it home within the cut off to crown a superb achievement. As many commented, it's not just the four events, it's getting to each of the start lines healthy and prepared and for none was this truer than for Amy Sole, the 2023 womens slam champion who carried a cold all week, but felt well enough to start and persevered to get the job done, albeit it took a huge toll on already depleted energy reserves.
Gatsby Fitzgerald took the 2023 crown for the men after an incredibly consistent year with top tens at every event.
Congratulations to all that took part and completed the class of 2023 - the final table can be found here.
A huge thank you to the volunteer team as ever, for making this a wonderful day for everyone out on the trails.
The first named storm of the season, Antoni, greeted runners at registration for the 13th annual North Downs Way 100. It seems that after very settled weather throughout the 2022 events, 2023 is determined to throw many challenges our way. For our 100 mile Grand Slammers, they have had to deal with the incredibly wet TP100, a blazing hot SDW100 and now the first named storm of the season at the NDW100. Before a look at the race, a huge thanks to our 100+ volunteers who endured it all for over 30 hours to help a record of 70% of the starting field, make it across the line in Ashford. The fact that that record went, given the weather was really something quite special.
At the front of both the womens and mens races, we saw exciting, close running between a host of new faces to Centurion.
The womens event was in the end, led wire to wire by Charlotte Fisher, but that is of course simplifying things somewhat! Incredibly, Charlotte only began running seriously around a year ago, working her way up to a 100km around the Isle of Wight and then diving into her first 100 here. The entire womens field here started at a conservative, sensible pace but Charlotte gradually ran away from her closest competitory Megan Davies over the first half of the course, to lead by 25 minutes at half way. Into the back half of the course, Megan gradually slowed and Susie Whatmough moved into second - but was eventually forced to stop at Detling. So Charlotte had an almost 2 hour lead over the eventual second placed runner Rachel Gillings and it proved to be enough for a superb win. But Rachel ran a brilliant race to close to within just 22 minutes of Charlotte by the end. Charlotte's winning time was 22:38, Rachel took second in 23:00 and third place went to Lydia Thomson in 23:06. Rachel went from 10th at CP1 to 2nd overall. Lydia from 15th at CP1 to 3rd overall. Incredible pacing from those two!
In the mens race the gaps were dramatically less in what was a very tight, exciting race featuring runners all brand new to Centurion events. The likely leading runner Pete Windross who basically had done everything here before including finishing second twice, started conservatively but didn't forge his way into the top spots as expected, leaving fresher faces to duke it out. Props to Pete however who ground out what was his seventh finish here.
Ryan Whelan, Joe Ackerley and Mason Willis populated the podium spots from a quarter of the way into the race until the line. But the lead changed hands numerous times between them. Mason led the first third, Ryan led into half way, Joe led out of it and then seemed to be doing enough to win. But as Mason faded in the final third, Ryan began to close the gap, from 15 minutes with a half marathon to go, to 7 minutes at the last check point, only to pass Joe with 2km left to go. The incredible sight we were presented at the finish, was Joe hitting the track as Ryan rounded the final bend to win the race by 300 metres. We have never had the battle for the win in any of our events go down to the track before. Let's hope it happens again! Ryan's winning time was 17:07:20, Joe was second 87 seconds behind and third place went to a battling Mason in 18:19.
Ryan and Joe
In the age groups we saw an MV70 win for Ken Fancett who finished his 99th 100 miler, we look forward to celebrating Ken's 100th 100 with him at the A100 in two months time.
The other mens awards went to Tom Harvey (MV40), Pete Windross (MV50) and Ronald Davies (MV60).
The womens AG awards went to Fern Parker (FV40), and Victoria Cousins (FV50).
Huge thanks once again to all of the volunteers and staff, for making this a record breaking weekend despite the immense challenges involved.
Black Trail Runners organised the Reigate Hill Check Point
A wonderful, uplifting few days was had by all who attended the inaugural Wendover Woods Weekender over 7th-9th July. This event was originally slated for July 2020 but when Covid hit we had to postpone it and we'd been waiting for the right moment to try again.
When we did decide to go for it, we decided to go big (for us!), combining our popular Wendover Woods 50 miler, usually in November, with the Night 50km and 100 miler that have traditionally taken place in July. But the format of the weekend also gave us the perfect opportunity to add in a 10 miler and some kids races too to give everyone who has ever wanted to run a race with us but never had the chance, the opportunity to do so.
In the process, the WW100 became the 100th ultra we have staged in our 13 years of existence and it was the perfect way to celebrate that.
On top of it all we had our first ever 'Event Village'. The incomporable Allie Bailey took charge of the Speakers tent and a line up of Workshops, Guided Runs and Guest Speakers were spread across the weekend. The Centurion Running Store, Nomadic Sauna, Pair Ups with the Green Runners' Darren Evans, La Sportiva, Petzl, Ultimate Direction and Exhale Coffee - all on site to provide those camping with us for two nights the chance to live in our own little bubble for the weekend.
There were many stories from the six different events, so here are a few highlights from each of them.
For the third edition of Wendover Woods 100, just 30 brave souls toed the line but formed what was a really special event. This is undoubtedly one of the toughest 100 milers in the southern half of the country, with 20,000ft of climbing over the 100 mile 10 lap distance. With such a small group running through our Hale Lane and Trig Point aid stations 10 times each, the camaraderie between athletes, volunteers and staff was the best we've ever had as everyone did their best to help everyone achieve the simple goal of just finishing this behemoth. The blazing heat of Friday turned into thunderstorms Saturday making conditions ever more difficult. Rachel Fawcett, previous champion over 50 miles here, showed incredible focus as she knocked down the laps one by one to run home in a new course record of 22:57:13. Adrian Busolini won it for the men, also showing incredible consistency in his 20:24:59 winning time. They were the only two athletes to break 24 hours. Having not seen any drops in the first 7 hours of the race, we lost over half of the field on route to the final 32 hour cut off with just 13 runners adding their names to the tiny list of successful finishes here. The final two runners home were both especially poignant ones. Thomas Hayward finished his third WW100, the only person to finish all three editions of the event and Magda Strycharska who won here in 2021, finished in 31:10.
WW100 2023 Womens Champion Rachel Fawcett
WW100 2023 Mens Champion Adrian Busolini
The 50 miler started at 0930 Saturday, merging with both the Climate Relay which passed through the site and the back end of the 100 - and a new lease of life was breathed into all as a result. GB 24hr team international Rob Payne led the mens race by half an hour at half way and though he faded over the final loop his 8:09 was by far the fastest of the day. In the womens race, Grand Slam leader Amy Sole led the way early on but suffering with an ITB problem turned her goal towards simply finishing. Centurion regular Samantha Llloyd went through to win in 11:12.
Sam Lloyd, winner of the 2023 WW50 Womens Race
WW50 Mens Champion Rob Payne
WW Night 50km
The night 50km is such a fun event. The woods close at dusk and so when the 50km start rolls around at 10pm, the runners have the incredible playground of woodland trails at their disposal. The depth of the small field was quite something this year, with both the mens and womens course records tumbling. For the men, Joe Turner held a significant lead by 200 metres into the race and he led all the way through to the win in 4:24, taking 3 minutes off of Matt Hammerton's previous best. In the womens, Nicole Frisby won in 5:32, bettering Susie Whatmough's previous CR by 6 minutes, with Sarah Lawrence and Karen Hacker in second and third, both within 12 minutes of her at the end.
WW Night 50km Womens 1,2,3 (Sarah left, Nicole centre, Karen right)
Start of the WW Night 50km, with Joe Turner mens race winner seen left
The shortest (grown ups) race we've ever staged, the 10 miler kicked off on Sunday morning at 1000. Despite a huge crash on a descent, Jamie Seddon won it for the men in 72 minutes, with La Sportiva Team runner Anna-Marie Watson leading home the womens race in 1:32. A special mention to two other athletes. Eros Adamides became our first registered Blind finisher, accompanied by guide runner Sarah Tizzard - the fact that he ran the twisty, rooty loop in 2:11 is a spectacular achievement.
Eros and Sarah
Liz Sheffield, who has marked almost every one of our races for as far back as we can remember, finally ran one of our events herself and became only our fourth ever FV70 finisher of any event ever.
Anna-Marie Watson (La Sportiva) seen here climbing 'Gnarking Around' won the Womens WW10
Jamie Seddon won the Mens 10 miler in 72 minutes
Sorry to all the grown ups but the best part of the weekend was the U12 race. A field of 33 runners ranging from 3 to 11, sprinted around the permiter of the two 10 acre fields to cross the line in the biggest kids races we've had to date. Hearts were stolen as the final, youngest finishers came home.
WW Kids U12 Race Start
The U18 race saw 6 junior runners head into the woods, descending all the way to the base in astonishingly quick fashion, before repeating the final 1 mile of the course back in to trig field - up the steep climb of Railing in the Years and the notorious staircase in the middle. All six finished under 19 minutes and it was widely agreed that almost none of the adults on site would get anywhere near their times.
WW U18 Race Start
We cannot thank our community enough for bringing such an incredible weekend together. Of course the biggest thanks reserved for the team of volunteers who under pinned the entire event. Some of them were on site for over 72 hours, pulling multiple shifts in order to get things away as smoothly as possible and it was worth every ounce of effort.
Thanks also to our event partners that made the weekend possible. Allie Bailey who managed all of our Speakers, Guided Runs and Workshop area, delivering many of them herself alongside Julie Dennis, Anna Harding and our Centurion Coaching Team. La Sportiva UK, Ultimate direction, Petzl, Injinji and Vaga for sponsoring the events and the event village and being on hand to help people try out demo gear and shoes over the entire weekend. Pierre Papet and Steve ashworth for all of the event media. Darren Evans, Green Runners and Pair Ups for organising the Climate Relay to come through on Saturday morning, repair so many pairs of trainers and talk to us about what matters most. Nomadic Sauna and Exhale Coffee for bringing the vibes and the good times
Wendover Woods 50 will be back in November 2024, the Weekender.... TBC but after all of the feedback we maybe won't take much convincing to do it all again sometime.
The South Downs National Park once again delivered a spectacular weekend for everyone involved in the twelfth running of the South Downs Way 100. For volunteers, staff and supporters, bright sunshine and the stunning scenery made for a really special journey. For the runners, however, it was a race of two halves. The heat got up early on Saturday and felt fierce right through until the late hours of Saturday evening, derailing more attempts to finish than we've ever seen here before. But when the sun did go down, the drop out rate fell off of a cliff and those that hung on through to see the sun set, had the most spectacular night up on the downs.
339 runners began the race from the natural amphitheatre of Matterley Bowl just outside of Winchester at 6am and spirits were high, but not without a little anxiety about the struggle that the heat was likely to deliver in a few hours time.
The pace was quick right from the start in both the mens and womens races.
Sarah Page and Centurion Ultra Team runner Edwina Sutton led out for the women and stayed within a few minutes of each other through the first third of the race, Sarah slightly ahead. In third place sat Teresa Reason.
Eddie passed Sarah between Cocking and Houghton, mile 44 and held it through Washington, mile 54 and the first drop bag point. But the heat had now taken it's toll on everyone and the pace slipped across the board. None more so than for Eddie who was stopped by stomach problems that had dogged her for many hours and which would eventually stop her. Sarah pushed back into the lead and an impressively consistent Cat Simpson, also one of our team runners, forged her way into second place having sat all the way back in eighth in the early stages.
Moving up into third Aoife Ni Mhaoileoin had had a similar day to Cat, biding her time early on back in seventh and moving up all day. The positions stayed the same through the back third of the race and Sarah crossed the line first in 19:31:56 in a superb debut 100. Unfortunately Sarah was missing an item of mandatory kit at the finish and so received the one hour time penalty giving her a revised finish time of 20:31. Something which to her credit, despite what was clearly an unintentional infraction and therefore a shock, she took in very good grace. There was then of course an edgy hour to see what time the second place runned would come home. Cat held on for second in 20:40 meaning Sarah's default margin of victory was 9 minutes. Third place went to Aoife in 22:07.
The mens race played out quite differently. Three front runners left the start at pace and were there or thereabouts on course receord splits for the the first quarter of the event. Would they sensibly get some mileage under their belts before the real heat got up and run through strong, or would it derail their efforts - it felt like a gamble.
Jacob James led the early miles but was the first to come undone as he dropped out before the half way mark. Henrik Westerlin - previous Autumn 100 champion and Jose Rodriguez who set a new mens course record at the North Downs Way 50 three weeks ago, forged the front of the race for a while but Jose had taken a fall on the way down into Cocking and Henrik was very visibly struggling with the heat at Houghton Farm mile 44 and at Washington where he spent some time. Though Henrik led in there, it was Tim Bradley who'd looked in control from the start, hovering back in fifth early on, who then rocketed not only into the lead but out ahead of the field.
He ran an extremely well executed race, not fading noticeably at all, arguably the most consistent effort of any runner on the day as he extended his margin all the way to the line in a winning time of 15:50.
Henrik ground out a hard fought second place in 17:09 and third place went to Alan Clarke who much like Tim, had a really consistent run - he was eighteenth at check point one and ran into the podium places only 15 miles from the finish, overtaking Peter Windross who had crept up into third. Pete finished fourth so the last three years he's had a first, second and fourth here.
The mens podium: Tim centre, Henrik right and Alan left
The Age Category awards went to the following runners:
FV40 to Sarah Page the race winner. FV50 to Tara Taylor in 25:16. FV60 to Trinity Buckley in 29:19.
First MV40 was Henrik Westerlin also second overall. MV50 went to Pete Windross in fourth. MV60 to Graham Merfield in 23:39. MV70 to Ken Fancett in 26:24. His 97th 100 mile finish.
192 finishers made this the lowest finish rate we've ever had at the SDW100 - just 57% of the starters made it to Eastbourne. On the all time list it also creeps into the top ten lowest finish rates we've had in what was our 52nd 100 mile event since 2011.
On a weekend like this, the volunteers matter more than ever and almost 120 people made it all possible. Our huge huge thanks to all of them.
Those in the Grand Slam should feel very proud to still be in the hunt for the giant buckle after the two extremes of the wet and muddy TP100 and the sun baked SDW100. Onwards to Wendover Woods Weekender in just four weeks time we hope to see many of you there!
After a wet and muddy Thames Path 100 just two weeks earlier, we were delighted to get a clear weather window leading into this one, the trails finally getting a chance to dry out and the record field of 350 runners and 60 volunteers were granted close to ideal conditions on the day. Warm and sunny but with some passing cloud cover and a cooling north easterly breeze, it was a fast and glorious day out on the North Downs Way.
With a year off for the pandemic in 2020 aside, the North Downs Way 50 has been our longest running event. A lot of small things have changed in the intervening period, mostly to help make the event sustainable and open to more entrants, but ultimately it is the same race. The course used to finish outside the pub, but now runs an extra few hundred metres up into the fields. The Box Hill check point has moved across the road and St Martha's CP became Newlands Corner. But everything else is the same. And so each year, the runners get to test themselves against what is now one of the longer standing UK ultra distance events with over 2000 finishers in that time.
Because of the longevity of the event, when a course record gets broken it is a special moment. And in the mens race that was what we were treated to. The pace from the start was extremely fast. 23 year old young gun with what is clearly a bright future in the sport - Callum Job - went off hard and led through CP1 and CP2 - covering those first 14.5 miles in 1:34, putting himself 8 minutes up on Ry Webb's Course Record pace from 2021. A minute back sat Jose Rodriguez, who had run a great 100 miler at our South Downs Way 100 last year.
The section over to the A24 is fast and then the most challenging part of the course between Box Hill and Reigate Hill always seems to shake the field up. Emerging from that stretch first was Jose. He made Caterham at Mile 38 in 4:39, which put him 7 minutes up on record pace and 9 minutes up on his nearest contender Patrick Wightman, now in second place. Over the final miles, Jose slowed a little but so did Patrick and Jose had done enough, coming across the line for a new record 6:33:35. Patrick Wightman ran a superb 6:41 for second place and fourth fastest all-time on this course. Third place went to Gatsby Fitzgerald who climbed the rankings all day to finish in 7:15.
The front of the womens race came down to three athletes who occupied the podium positions from gun to tape, but the lead changed hands multiple times along the way making for fascinating racing.
The early faster running came from Canadian fast marathoner Alicia Kelahear and Amy Sole who had had a good SDW50 back in April. The lead changed hands several times between those two over the first half of the race. Meanwhile Katie Grinyer in third made steady progress and crucially after half way, began to close down the two out front with more consistent, marginally faster splits through the sections over to Reigate Hill and Caterham View Point. She passed Amy on the way to Caterham and then Alicia on the way to the final check point at Botley Hill. A lead she managed to maintain all the way to the finish in a winning time of 8:35. Alicia ran home in second in 8:46 and Amy took third in 8:49. Close, exciting racing throughout.
Katie Grinyer the 2023 NDW50 Champion
In the age categories awards went to the following:
First FV40 was Rike Jones in 9:23 and the first FV50 award went to Kit-Yi Greene in a superb 9:03.
First MV40 was Jose Rodgriguez the race winner. First MV50 was Adam Wilson in 7:55. First MV60 went to Simon Blanchflower in 9:17. First MV70 went to Ken Fancett finishing his 57th Centurion event in the process.
We had eleven people cross the line in the final ten minutes of the race, with regular Centurion volunteer and runner Kevin Stone treating us to a nail biting 12:59:25 to become the 317th and final finisher on the day.
Kevin Stone finishing with 35 seconds to spare
As ever we cannot do any of this without our incredible volunteers and the team of race markers and staff who dove tail the logistics at these events. A huge thanks to all for making this event the successful one that it was.
Saturday 6th May 2023, a day that will be remembered by some as the Coronation day of King Charles III but to everyone out on the Thames this weekend, far more importantly, as the twelfth edition of the Thames Path 100.
A record field, showed up a to an overcast Richmond Old Town Hall and set off on their journey to Oxford University 100 miles away, into a light drizzle that rapidly became steady rain which would persist until well into the evening. That didn't affect things early on as the pace was typically very fast indeed from front to back over the early miles, with much of the initial section paved or all terrain path. But later on the course begins to enter flood plain, meadows and single track trail which became heavier and heavier going with the mud truly epic in one or two places by the end.
That hit our overall finish rate in an incredible way. It took an amazing 5 hours and 36 minutes for a single runner to drop out of the race and a scant 15 runners stopped before the half way point in Henley. After that, however, we lost a further 117 runners between mile 51 and mile 89 on course - leaving an overall finish total of 207 hardy souls or just 61% of the starting field.
But the spirits of our leading men and women were not dampened. In fact it was a fast race up front with some excellent competition amongst the podium positions.
The race for the womens win was a formality however as an unshakeable Line Caliskaner, over from Norway, led from gun to tape. Norway is a nation with a strong record at the womens event here thanks to previous wins and podium finishes for Therese Falk and Ingrid Lid in years past. Line went off hard and didn't stop at CP1 as she tore through the opening 22 miles in 2:48. She increased her lead throughout, including when she took an incorrectly marked detour from the route (along with two others) which added a over a mile to her distance for which she was issued a 15 minute time credit. Behind Line, Sharon Walker sat in second for much of the day, applying just enough pressure for Line not to be able to afford to falter. But later on Sharon did fade and was passed by a storming Becky Atkinson who eventually took second. Line's winning time was 17:02, Becky came home in 18:02 and Sharon third in 19:11.
Line Caliskaner completely unphased by conditions led the race from wire to wire
The mens field was a deep one. The field included a handful of previous Centurion 100 mile champions including Paul Maskell, Geoff Cheshire and Pete Windross. But it was a new runner who made the waves early on and into the second half. Matt Field came in having won one and finished second in the other of his first two ultras which took place earlier this year over 50 miles. He was in unknown territory but running into Henley in 6:36 he held an 11 minute lead over Geoff in second. Just after Shiplake, Matt took the same marked diversion as Line later would, so whilst Geoff led on the ground, Matt was technically still ahead as the two made Pangbourne with the final third to go. The front three were all informed of the situation there so that any tactical racing needed to take Matt's 15 minute time credit into account.
Geoff however seemed unphased as he ran away for the win in what is probably his best result to date, coming home in a superb 14:18 which in the conditions is a truly remarkable run. Matt and Paul Maskell came over the line together in second and third, Matt's time credit bringing him out at 14:52 and Paul at 15:07, rounding out the mens podium.
Geoff Cheshire claimed his first Centurion 100 mile win after coming close several times in the past
In the Age Groups awards went to the following:
First FV40 went to Becky Atkinson who was also second overall. First FV50 went to race winner Line Caliskaner in a huge new age group record. First FV60 went to Trinity Buckley in 27:39.
First MV40 was Geoff Cheshire the race winner. First MV50 went to Sven Tore Holsether. First MV60 to Phil Hoy in 23:09 and first MV70 to Kenneth Fancett in 25:08. His 96th 100 mile finish.
96 runners made it home inside the 24 hour cut off for the 100 MILES ONE DAY buckle and five new runners were added to the 500 mile club and earned their TP100 500 mile buckle in the process.
It was as always, an impossibly challenging weekend, especially with the weather and over 100 volunteers were the true heroes of the day, some of them out in all conditions for well over 24 hours helping runners achieve their goals. Our sincere thanks to every single one.
For 2023, the Track 100 returned to Bedford International Athletics Stadium for the second time. The format remained the same for this year with IAU/ IAAF ratified splits taken at 50km, 50 mile, 6 Hour, 100km, 12 hour and the ultimate prize, the 100 mile distance. The overall cut off remained at 17 hours and with exceedingly high qualification marks required for applicants, the small and elite nature of the event keeps record setting conditions to an optimum.
The 2023 runners had a tough act to follow, with five World and nine National records set at the 2022 event including of course the Mens 100km World Record of 6:05 from Aleksandr Sorokin and the Womens V40 50 mile and 6hr records from Dominika Stelmach. But also from the winning times achieved last year; Sam Amend's 14:10 British Womens 100 mile record and Alex Whearity's 12:42.
In the past the field sizes have ranged from 8, up to 15. With four weeks to go until race day, 16 athletes remained on the start list but that began reducing as we approached race day for a variety of reasons, illnesses, injuries and other derailments all affecting the field. Athletes shooting for performances so close to the red line, will only race if everything is optimal. Some of those we would miss greatly in terms of being able to see what they could have achieved, but the remaining 8 starters gave us plenty to get excited about and honestly, from an organisational stand point it's still such a huge amount of work for such a small group.
Four UKA officials, a team of ten volunteers and six race day staff as well as the runner crews all required to make it happen.
The unique thing about the event this year was that whilst it all ultimately came down to just a 100 mile race for the men and the same for the women, every athlete had their own target and was almost out there just racing against themselves. Every runner this year had either a World or National target, or their own personal ambition in mind - and due to the varying age categories and nationalities, none were directly competing with each other.
Ultimately the womens race was won by Ingrid Lid in 14:13:15 and the mens race by Dan Lawson in 12:37:10. But for the report we'll touch a little on every athlete.
Conditions overall on the day were frankly, perfect. Last year the wind was significant and impacted runners substantially, something that makes the performances achieved that much more remarkable. But this time the weather stayed cloudy, the wind extremely low and the temperatures in the 6-12 degree range for the majority of the day. The sun did emerge between hours 6 and 10 and did have an impact on some of the runners but otherwise, we could not have asked for a better day.
It was a day of the finest of margins overall and in every case, the margin fell the right way - whether it be for a record or a finish.
Ingrid Lid: Ingrid came in with a PB of just north of 15 hours and with the lofty ambition of setting new Norwegian records at 12 hours - 135km+ and 100 miles - 14:25. We know Ingrid well, she has won our NDW100 and finished second at the TP100 twice and each time she races she brings both an incredibe steely determination whilst remaining so positive to those around her, constantly thanking and smiling whenever encouragement is offered. She started the race out at an incredible rate, pushing a 7:10-7:30 min mile pace for lap after lap, seemingly too quick for her to be able to maintain and the concern was that the drop off could then be dramatic, compromising the overall 100 mile goal. But she reaped the additional reward of a new Norwegian 50 mile record of 6:22:32 as she hammered through the half way mark way up on schedule. Whilst she then began to slow, hit a couple of rough patches and certainly suffered with some stomach issues, she just dug in over and over again and made excellent pace once again. She began closing in on the 12 hour record and it was obvious she would break it comfortably, in the end adding 3km to it with a distance of 138.617km. Her running through to the 100 mile finish was sensational and she crossed the line for a finishing time of 14:13:15, setting a new Norwegian record by 12 minutes and only missing out on Sam Amend's course record here by 3 minutes.
Sarah Sawyer: Sarah ran this event back in 2021 and came heartbreakingly close to finishing before injury slowed her down and she succumbed to the 17 hour limit just 5km or so from the finish. This time she was back with the singular purpose of finishing inside the cut off, in fact she would need to run a PB to achieve her goal of finishing. From early on it seemed that she was able to eek out small margins over her 2021 splits for a seemingly equiavelent effort level and this seemed to bouy the spirts of both her and her crew. In the end whilst she slowed in the latter stages and her time looks quite close to the overall cut off, it didn't really ever seem in doubt that she would do it. A really well executed and managed race from Sarah and a deserved finish in 16:43:32 for second.
Chavet Hills: Chavet had travelled over from Colorado to take part in the event and like Sarah, had one singular intention, to try to finish inside of the 17 hout cut off. Her day got off to a scrambled start as on the start line she lost a couple of minutes sorting her bib numbers out which for IAU / UKA rules need to be on display at all times - the race referee overseeing that all was above board. Once off and running, she was metronomic in her pacing and again like Sarah, ran extremely consistently throughout. Chavet, however, was very marginally slower than Sarah for the first 14 hours or so and from a long way out it looked like whilst Sarah was likely doing just enough to finish, Chavet was going to be very close indeed to the overall 17 hour barrier. With about 90 minutes to go, tensions began to rise as the realisation dawned that she might miss the finish by the margin of time she spent sorting her bib numbers out at the start. She needed to average a 2:46 lap pace with 60 mins to go, to make the cut off. She began to speed up just enough and began clocking between 2:39 and 2:44 for each loop, giving herself the finest of margins to get it done. In the end she crossed the line in 16:58:01, to take third place and round out a 100% finish rate for the ladies. The perfect end to everyones day.
Dan Lawson: Dan came into the race running as well as he ever has. Last October he set a new 24hr PB in Verona of 273km, good enough for fifth place at the European Championships. This year he has already won the Eastbourne Half and set a new 10km PB to boot. Earlier this year he also crossed into a new age category, when he turned 50 and this brought into view a host of potential records, most notably the 12 hour and 100 mile MV50 World bests of 148.59km and 13:41 (set here last year by Mike Stocks) respectively. Dan got off to a rapid start and hammered through the early miles all at sub 7 minute pace. Everything seemed to be flowing really well. Through 50km in 3:35 he missed out on a British 50km record by 9 minutes or so but if he kept that pace up he would endanger the MV50 50 mile European Record of 5:47:15. A decision was made to hold that information back from him until about 30 minutes from it, because he was running so close to the pace he needed to achieve to get it and it was of course, not the main goal. Would an interim push for it, derail his overall ambitions? But in the end he was so close we made the call to let him know. He upped the pace by just a few seconds per lap and began to hunt it down, he had to work a tiny bit too hard for it but he did bag it, coming in with 14 seconds to spare in 5:47:01. He also bagged the MV50 British 6 hour record shortly after with a mark of 83.133km. He could now ease right off and cruise to the next set of records, however the extra effort caused him some stomach issues and a spell of walking/ sitting and rallying. But Dan is the master of staying in his own space, he knows better than anyone else that the lows don't last and together with his partner and crew Charlotte, what to do to turn it around. The wheels started turning again and he gradually began to gather steam until he was practically flying again. Having dropped to third from first, he rose back up to first again and from there it was a formality. A new MV50 12 Hour World Record of 153.941 (also a PB for Dan) and a new MV50 100 mile World Record of 12:37:10 were his rewards. That and his first Centurion Trophy.
Luka Videtic: Luka came in as Slovenian 12 hour and 100 mile record holder, the latter a time of 13:38 which he ran on route to a 10th place finish in the Euro 24 Hour Championships last October. His aim was to better those marks. He went off at an extremely fast pace and initially led the race. His plan seemed to be to allow for a fade, but how much, only time would tell. He made it through 50 miles in 5:55 and on to 100km in 7:34 and seemed to be doing just about enough as time drifted on. Then he hit a bit of a wall and walking breaks became longer and longer, but with some gentle (loud vocal) encouragement he dug in for the final 20 minutes to ecplise his previous 12 hour Record by just under 500 metres, with 148.957km. From there the 100 mile looked to be possible too and he went on to take that too, with a second place finish in 13:35:19.
Ciaran Mcaneny: Ciaran's story at this race was unique. He wasn't in the event to shoot for records and with an 80km, 6 hour PB it didn't seem as if the final cut off would threaten him at any stage either. He was out just to run the best race he could and to that degree his was a very successful outing. A super attitude, thanking everyone throughout and seemingly really enjoying the whole experience, he made good, steady progress as he made 50 miles in 7:18, 100km in 9:25 and went through 124.22km in 12 hours. He slowed in the final stages but as Tristan and Robert had stopped early, he eventually took the final podium place in a time of 16:17:20.
Tristan Stephenson: Tristan came into the race with limited track ultra experience, but with some super performances on the trails behind him including a 13:59 win at the TP100 last year. It is quite clear to all that he is capable of some special performances and he came into this event with rightfully lofty goals, the main one being an MV40 British 100 mile record of 12:37:55, a time that would also likely also yield by default a new MV40 12 hour British record in the process. He started out right at the 7:00 - 7:05 per mile range and held it metronomically. His day seemed intertwined with Dans from the start, slightly behind of him for the first 50 miles, the MV40 50 mile British record of 5:54:20 came into view and was on his radar, but like Dan it was clear Tris would have to push a little harder than he had been, in order to get it. He upped the tempo just fractionally and came in with 13 seconds to spare, with a new age category 50 mile record of 5:54:07. He ran through to a new 100km PB of 7:26, as Dan suffered and Robert and Luka dropped back, Tristan found himself in the lead of the race around the same time. Seemingly the strongest and most consistent out on track, as the temperatures warmed slightly and the day wore on, his stomach began to waver and he began to suffer some dizzy spells which led to some problem solving in the moment. Walking some, stopping some, cooling, trying a variety of different food and drink for the first time, he would get back to running well but then suffer the issues all over again. The third or fourth rallying attempt was the final one and he called it a day just short of ten hours into the race. Nobody has any doubt, he will be back!
Robert Hajnal: Robert came in with the intention of shooting for a new Romanian 100km record, which stood at 6:41. A star of the international trail running scene, he is one of many top off road runners to dip their toe into this side of the sport in recent years and it promised to be fascinating to see what he could achieve. His first 40km went largely to plan, but he began to slow just slightly to 50km. He led through there in 3:20:33, but now needed an even split to set a new record. That possibility quickly faded away but to his immense credit, he rallied and stayed out on track, to run a new Romanian 50 mile national record and eventually finish the distance he started out for, making 100km in 7:56:53.
So three World/ Continental Records and eight National Records later, despite the small field it was another exceptional day on the track. A huge thank you to our team of officials and all of the volunteers who make this possible year after year for the love of the sport and nothing more. To the athletes and their crews for making it such a memorable and inspiring day for all of us. And to all of you following from home on the live stream.
All Photos Pierre Papet/ Centurion Running, final image c/o Norbert Mihalik
The eleventh edition of the South Downs Way 50 took place on Easter Saturday this year, and as has been the case for several years, it coincided nicely with the arrival of spring to bless runners, volunteers and supporters with a wonderful day out in close to perfect conditions.
The South Downs Way 50 has always attracted a really diverse field. Many approach this as their first 50, for whilst there are hills aplenty, they are long gradual climbs offering the chance to re-fuel but still move forward at a good pace. Whilst the descents down into the valley check points also tend to be long and gradual, making for some faster running. With the mud and water largely gone from the course thanks to warmer weather this week, the course played out fast indeed. We also tend to see some faster road runners taking this step up in distance, as well as mountain and trail runners from across the country looking to get their race season started.
Photo by David Miller Photography
In the womens race we saw early leaders Rebecca Di-Luzio and Jen Wood battle back and forth on the different slope aspects, before a gap began to open up just after Saddlescombe. It grew very gradually as the race went on and Rebecca ran home the winner in 7:15. Hers was the fifth fastest all time on this course and her first win with us. As a mountain runner by trade, she found the running almost too good! Jen crossed the line second in 7:29, also a superb time. Charlotte Baker took third in 8:04.
Jen Wood nipped in for second just under the 7:30 mark
The mens race was a more closely fought affair, until the half way point. Lewis Ryan and Paddy Hamilton both quick road runners, tore through the early stages, just off of Tom Evan's 5:44 record pace. Paddy sat just behind Lewis for most of the way, seemingly marking the leader. But unfortunately some pre-race niggles developed into an insurmountable issue and he was forced to pull the pin at Housedean Farm just past the marathon mark. That left Lewis, who had come through there in 3:05 elapsed, to run through for a relatively uncontested win. He eased off the gas on the final climbs to preserve himself but still ran home in what was also a fifth fastest time on this course, 6:12.
Second place also went to a faster road man, Liam Mcintyre taking that in 6:40. Marius Posa picked up third in 6:43.
Lewis Ryan comes home for the win in 6:12
In the age categories, some super performances were laid down on what was a bit of a bumper PB day for many athletes.
Womens winner Rebecca Di-Luzio also took home the FV40 prize in what was a new age category winning time. First FV50 was Laura McGill in 8:43 - also an age category record. Nicky Callus was our only FV60 finisher, but in a stellar time of 11:16.
The Mens Vet 40 prize went to Liam Mcintyre. First MV50 was Rick Curtis, once again, in 7:38 - the fourth time he has won that award. First MV60 was Tony Deacon in 9:07 and the MV70 prize went as usual, to Ken Fancett in 10:11.
The final finishers gave us the usual jeopardy, Mike Clyne making it home to rapturous applause and cheers with a whole 76 seconds to spare under the 13 hour cut off!
With huge thanks as always to our team of volunteers, this was another wonderful start to the 50 mile race season.
Photo by David Miller Photography
For 2023 we had a new start to our race season, with the introduction of the Hundred Hills 50km. Based out of Stonor Park, set in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, the race travels around the surrounding countrside over two roughly equal loops, starting at Stonor, returning at half way and again for the finish.
350 runners lined up for the first edition, a real mixture of our regular Centurion runners and those brand new to both Centurion events but also the sport of ultra running.
The weather in the lead up had been wet and an overnight soaking left the course damp and muddy. With steady rain throughout loop one, things were tough underfoot in places but despite that runners seemed to be having an absolute blast, commenting to us at half way on how beautiful the course was.
As our leaders made it in to the finish, the sun finally burst through and we were treated to a drier second half and more of the celebratory feel we were hoping for when we put this in the calendar.
The ladies race was a closely fought affair with some brilliant running going on amongst the leaders. Celia Waring ran fastest out of the gate and into Ibstone, check point one at around 10km in, with Sophie Biggs our 2022 Chiltern Wonderland 50 winner right behind her in second place. Amy-Jo Clarke who won our North Downs Way 50 last year, passed both of the leading ladies on the way to CP2 at Skirmett, but it was Celia who ran into the half way aid station back at Stonor, about 300 metres or so up on Amy-Jo. They passed each other on the short out and back across the Estate to the check point.
Amy-Jo made her move coming down the hill into the fourth check point at Hambleden around 20 miles into the course, passing Celia in strong fashion and from there, gradually extended her lead over the closing 11 miles to finish with the win and another Centurion trophy in a time of 4:46:52. Celia came home just 9 minutes later for second place in 4:55 and third place went to Michelle Attridge in 5:00 who ran a fantastic race, climbing the rankings through to the finish.
Amy-Jo Clarke picked up her second Centurion race win
In the mens race, it was one man out front from the gun, Dan Weller. Dan grew his lead across the event and didn't look troubled for the win in a superb time of 4:05. Second place went to Richard Bedlow who climbed from sixth at check point one, gaining places throughout the race for his 4:17 finish. Samuel Anderson came home third in 4:21.
Dan Weller powered home for the mens win
Some superb age group performances were also laid down.
Teresa Reason took the FV40 prize in 5:22. First FV50 went to Dawn Godwin in 5:05 - what is astonishing here is that four FV50 ladies came home within 13 minutes of each other and any one of them would have taken the FV40 prize as well! Congratulations to Sophie Biggs, Tamsin Neale and Sharon Walker on some stellar running. First FV60 went to Patricia Keene in 7:54.
In the mens age categories, first MV40 went to Richard Bedlow - also second overall. First MV50 to Neil Martin in 4:35. First MV60 to David Prince-Iles in 5:30 and the MV70 prize to David Rootes in 7:26.
319 runners crossed the line within the 9 hour cut off. Helen Weeden gave us a good deal of excitement at the end, we knew from the tracker that she would be close to the final cut off but the extremely good visibility out down the estate path from the finish line meant the crowd could see her coming from a couple of minutes away. She crossed the line in 8:58:25 sending everyone home in great spirits to end a fantastic day!
Our huge thanks to the volunteer team that made this event possible. To Stonor Estate and the other village councils for allowing us to borrow this course for the day. We very much look forward to hosting the second edition of this race in March 2024.
One Slam 2023 took place between the 1st of January and 11th March. Runners had 10 weeks, or 70 days to complete their self appointed challenge.
Distances ranged from 50 miles right up to 1000 in that time, with ages from 3 to 81 and there were notable performances from everywhere, but particularly the runners at the outer extremes of that range. Amelia Dunkley stole the hearts of the crowd as she ran her way to a 100 miles (pictured first in below). Meanwhile Ian Maddieson finished his 1000 miles in the final hours. His is quite the story. A 15 time finisher of the Western States 100, he was one of four Vet 80 runners to finish the recent US 100 mile championships, which formed part of his Slam mileage, in a time of 37:15.
As always the community pulled together to encourage one another through their respective challenges. It has become such a wortwhile, inspiring and motivating event to start each year with. Long may it continue!
Finishers lists and certificates are available via the links above. Photos below shared by parents of and runners of the 2023 event. Congratulations to all!