Centurion Ultramarathon Blog

TP100 Preview

Apr 14, 2016 (2 weeks, 6 days ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2016

A relatively short preview this time, as the depth in the field looks to point to some very clear front runners. However, as always there are likely to be a lot of dark horses I have missed - capable of sweeping up the pieces if things go awry for the stand out runners.

I've also added a legends section for the first time. I intend to focus on just one stand out person in the field of each event who qualifies for legend status. This time it goes to someone we haven't seen in a while....

MEN

Craig Holgate: It would be unfair on the competition to write everyone else off but with respect to the rest of the field this looks set to be a one man time trial against the course. Craig is still the incumbent TP100 record holder, with a 15:11 in his first ever 100 miler back in 2012. Since then he's gone on to represent Team GB on the trail and at 100km numourous times, clocking an incredible set of performances at that distance, bringing his PB down to 6:53 at the World Champs last year. Craig's list of accolades is simply too long to recount here. But this is not the same runner we saw in 2012. Back then he was still something of a rookie at the ultra game. He now has a great number of ultra distance races under his belt including things like 5 straight Thames Trot victories & 2 NDW50 wins including the course record. Craig is a part of our Ultra Team and has been an inspiration to all of us as he churns out an absolutely incredible level of volume, whilst handling a big commute from Ely to London every day and being a great family man to his wife Abbie and two girls at home. If the course is in good condition I fully expect him to better our all time 100 mile record, Mark Perkins' 14:03 at the SDW100, and truth be told he is capable of running close to or under 13 hours on this course. Which would put him in the GB All Time list at the distance and even higher on trail. Fingers crossed we get to witness something truly special on race day.

Craig on his way to breaking his own Record at the 2015 NDW50

Terrence Zengerink: Terrence has 8 consecutive Comrades finishes to his name, and a handful of 100 milers too. With a PB of 19:36 for 5th at the TP100 in 2013 in atrocious conditions, he should go many hours faster than that this time. Many may remember him too as the man that won the 2013 Piece of String with an epic 130 mile finish never knowing when or where that finish would come. He is one tough cookie.

Ian Thomas: One thing is for sure, Ian will be up the front early on! He has a penchant for going hard early and has had some pretty epic blow ups over the years. However last year he started to dial things in and stormed his way to a 2nd place 24:09 finish at the 130 mile Leeds Liverpool Canal Race, and then a 31:33 at Spartathlon. If he can hold himself back early on we should see a time well under 20 hours on the clock for his finish.

Jeremy Isaac: Jez's experience is deep, and he has learned some hard lessons at this distance, but has recorded some superb finishes over 100 miles, particularly his 3rd place at the NDW100 in 2014 with an 18:01. He also finished 3rd there last year. It would be great to see him run significantly quicker than that here. 

David Pryce: 2nd at the 2014 TP100 in 16:56 and closing hard on a fading Ed Catmur, David has proven pace over this distance that's only surpassed by Craig. If he's in shape, it'll be about picking up the pieces behind and he looks most likely for a podium place either way.

WOMEN

Sam Amend: Much like the men's race, there is one lady with a completely different level of speed to anyone else in the field. However, unlike Craig, Sam doesn't have the depth in ultra running as yet - this will be only her 4th ultra I believe, and her first 100. Her road running background is astounding, with a list of wins as long as your arm. PBs include 2:42 at the marathon (She has run around that time many times over) and a 77 Half, her step up to ultra's came in 2011 with a 3rd overall and 1st lady at the Druids. She then seems to have taken a hiatus before in 2015 she ran a 50, and earlier in 2016 broke the Course Record at Country to Capital despite having spent some time off course. If she can pace it right and find the endurance in the back half, we could see something really special. 

Wendy Shaw: Wendy is a double Centurion Grand Slammer, and has finished all previous editions of the TP100 with 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th places. No doubts here as she has recently found an even greater level of speed, she will finally want to take home the crown at one of our events. This I make it will be her 13th finish at a Centurion 100, with only one drop, at mile 99 of the NDW100. 

LEGEND FOCUS

Rob Treadwell: I haven't seen Rob's name for a long time but was delighted to see it pop up. Back in 2010/ 2011 he took home wins at the Ridgeway Challenge and Cotswold 100. It looks like after a break of 3-4 years he made his way back in to ultras in 2015 and to be honest if he is in his old shape, I should be listing him in the above category and not the legends field!

An Interview with Edwina Sutton. 2nd at ACP100km in 2016.

Apr 06, 2016 (4 weeks, 1 day ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2016

No time, but no excuses.  Debbie Martin-Consani talks to fellow team runner, Edwina Sutton who won silver at the British 100km Championship – only nine months after having her THIRD child.

Tell us a little bit about your running background? 

I was a jack-of-all trades at school and represented the county at netball, hockey, athletics and cross-country.  The 800m was my speciality, thanks to the geography teacher used to drag me to the track to train. I’m so glad he did, as I have never lost that bit of raw speed.

When I went to university I played hockey for three years and still ran, but just recreationally. Once I left university I realised I wasn’t going to play any better hockey, so started dabbling with triathlon. The dabble turned quite serious and I competed at a high level for a few years. Even from with a running background it was my bike leg that proved to be my strength, with not many women – or men - being able to match my power.  The 25-30hrs a week of training plus a full time job as a PE teacher was a real juggle, but I loved being an inspiration to the kids I taught. Two of them who used to join me on recovery runs are now professional triathletes.

Practising time management from a 16-year old at school has stood me in good stead for having a family and trying to achieve my athletic dreams.

What would you say are your greatest sporting achievements?

Tricky, I think I have lots of ‘moments’ during races when I think ‘yes this is the best moment ever’: Paddling in the Pacific Ocean at the start of the Triathlon World Championships with 2,000 other athletes;  dropping the ‘hammer’ along the canal during Country to Capital 2014 and reeling in all the boys; laughing my head off at Paul Navesey as we shoved cliff shots into our mouth at Downslink Ultra after he went the wrong way (it’s a straight path); and winning the SDW50 after spending the previous three weeks with my foot up. 

DMC – I should also throw in that Eddie was 15th in her Age Group at the Ironman World Championships 2009 in Hawaii with an impressive time of 10:48.   Her Ironman PB stands at 10:07. 

Eddie Post Race with the Family

You got back into training quite quickly after having Evie in July.  How did you physically cope with that?

Firstly I do not advocate getting back into training straight away after having a baby, but to listen to your body and getting proper advice from a qualified personal trainer.

With my first child I took much longer, but I was much more confident third time round.  I knew what I was doing and how to mend my diastasis recti (split abdominals) and juggle feeding and exercise.  I also committed to weekly osteopath and massage appointments. My body was very much a constant work in progress, but I listened to it very carefully.  I can’t say I rested when I was tired, because I didn’t, but I didn’t push it and did heaps of easy running.

I also worked very hard on my core by myself and also with my osteopath. It wasn’t till the week before the ACP that I had my final appointment and she said my pelvis was level again. She pushed me hard and often 2-3 days after appointments I would feel absolutely battered, this did hamper training, but I have tried to constantly think of the long term project and that this year is really just about getting fit again and hopefully at the pointy end of races.

The first three months were brutal, as I felt so unfit and was carrying about 20kg of baby weight. It was slow progress, but it was always progress. Every session was part of the bigger jigsaw and I tried to not be overly concerned with one session, but take each week as another step forward.

I didn’t bother with dieting as I needed the energy and I knew the weight would have to come off in its own time. 

How did you find training around feeding a baby, running after two exuberant boys (Finlay 5 and Rory 3) and working as a running coach?

There is literally not a moment in the day when I am not doing something. I breastfed the baby for seven months and that was even more a juggle as running had to be fitted in with her feeds, as she wouldn’t take a bottle.

I would have my kit on before she woke up, feed her, throw on back pack and run for three hours till she needed feeding again. Sometimes I would run around the block until she needed feeding again. I found it very tiring feeding a baby and looking after the boys.  Although I am big advocator of breastfeeding and I think you can train and feed a baby at the same time, sometimes something has to give and it’s usually the Mother’s energy levels that are the first to go. 

In the final month of feeding I was definitely starting to feel that I had given all I had to give. When Evie was weaned, the difference in my training and energy was huge. Plus I didn’t need two sports bras anymore, which saved me some washing too.

As for the boys, they are mad.  Being boys, as long as they are fed and are out playing in the fresh air, they are happy.  I am very lucky that they both love being active and also love watching me race.

I absolutely love being a running coach and personal trainer, after spending 12 years as a PE teacher.  I have a real core of fantastic athletes. They are all different, all hard working and I feed off their enthusiasm and dedication. Often this means 2-3 hours of work in the evening after training and putting the kids to bed, but it keeps my brain active.  I get to give back to the running community and seeing and helping others achieve their dreams is just as important to me as achieving my own. 

What did your training week look like?  How did you manage to find the time?

Every week is different. I normally set out with a plan and then mix it around as the day/hour dictates. Being flexible is absolutely key.  Don’t get me wrong I always get all my training done, but sometimes that means two runs a day, going out super early, going out at lunch time, getting someone to watch the baby for 45 minutes and running on the treadmill whilst the kids play around me.  My biggest training saviour is my running pram.

About 25-30 miles of my easy running Monday to Thursday is done pushing the pram. Not very easy, but I just wouldn’t be able to fit it all in otherwise. I have run with all my babies and do enjoy it. Everyone I meet in our village calls me “The crazy lady who runs with the pram”.

I run with boys the mile up to school and nursery every morning and go from there. It’s a set in stone routine,  which means I get my first run of the day done. I have thought this often means my recovery runs aren’t very easy, but I like to think none of my competitors are pushing their babies around whilst they are training. Marginal gains people.

After having Evie, it took a while just to get my weekly mileage back up to a decent level. I managed about 60-65 miles whist I was feeding and held 75 miles for a couple of months before ACP. I also did 3-4 strength sessions a week, which really helped my running form and power without adding in extra mileage.

I was able to introduce one tempo/interval session into this. Sometimes two, plus a long run.  But I found I was still adapting to the mileage and the long run was still causing some muscle damage even as close to four weeks out from the ACP.

In a normal week - and how my training will go into May - will be one rest day a week, two interval sessions (one long rep marathon type effort and one shorter paced effort) a long run of up to 3-4hrs and the rest all easy running. I probably won’t go over 85 miles a week, as I don’t have the time and don’t see the benefit.  It’s all about quality.  

Eddie Mid Race at ACP

You a big advocator of strength training – and planking.  Do you think that helps with endurance running?

Absolutely.  There is no way I could have got through the 100km on my cardiovascular fitness alone. At 50km it came down to strength and form. Holding myself correctly from the tip of my head down to my toes allowed my body to work at its most efficiently.   Plus when the wheels started to come off, I had my strength to fall back on.   I concentrated on holding myself correctly, driving the knees and using my arms to propel forward.  Focussing on this killed time over another three miles.

I am very proud that I got my body back strong, functioning well and injury free. I do mainly body weight movements and exercises, which mean means I can do them around the kids.  Heaps of squat, lunges, holding my body weight in movements and kettle bell work to mix it up.  I think runners who don’t do strength work leave themselves susceptible to injury.

 Your first post-baby A-race was last weekend’s Anglo Celtic Plate.  Was that always the plan?

Yes I looked at the ultra-calendar during labour, counted forward 8-9 months and there it was.  It also helped we knew Perth well, as my in- laws live just up the road. It excited me as a distance and I thought the relentless pace would pay towards my strengths. 

You hadn’t run a qualifying race, so how did you make the team? 

I entered the open race, thinking I wouldn’t get selected.  I almost didn’t want to, as I knew it was a big ask to get fit again in the tight timeframe.  I also knew every week I was making huge gains in fitness and there would be a big difference between my running at end of Jan and end of March.  

However I got an email from the selectors saying they were going to announce the team, which I had been provisionally selected for, but had to prove my fitness in a 50km road race by the end of February.

Of course there aren’t any road races of that distance in the depth of winter so Walter Hill, the England selector, offered to come and watch me run up and down outside my house on a 2.5 mile loop.  I toyed with this, but decided I would regret it if I turned it down so I agreed.

Walter set a target time of 3.50 and I cruised it round in 3.38 and got my selection. In hindsight I ran it too hard. Who wouldn’t?  It was the furthest I had ran in two years and my legs were destroyed for 10 days after. But we live and learn.  It did give me a good confidence boost and was very thankful for the special treatment and my personal makeshift race.

How did the race go?  You were leading for quite some time.

In my head the race was a massive disaster, but in my heart I am so proud with what I achieved. I think I am capable of something with a 7hrs in, but looking back I just didn’t have that back end of endurance training to maintain the pace that I could hold for 5-6hrs.

I made a catalogue of errors, which I’m not ashamed to share with you.  I’m not perfect.  To start with I hadn’t left the baby for the night before and I didn’t sleep a wink the night before worrying about what I was doing.  Could I run 62 miles? Should I be running? Shouldn’t I be at home with my children? What sort of mother was I?

Of course, it was all pre-race massive jitters, but 4am came round with no sleep and I was literally sick to my stomach with fatigue and worry. I managed a few mouthfuls of soaked oats. Normally I eat a massive bowl of porridge, but every mouthful was coming back up.  

Then I got my period. Sorry guys - skip the next few sentences - but it’s a major issue for us ladies.  It was truly awful.  I had cramps, portaloo dramas and my legs just didn’t have any spark. When I knew I was going to get my period on race day I did seriously think about not starting the race.  I always run terrible at this time, but I tried to convince myself it would be ok and I do think I managed it the best I could.

The first four hours of the race went to plan.  I didn’t feel particularly great, but I was trying to just trot along and enjoy the scenery/headwind/seeing Bryn/three step incline and then simply repeat.

After probably 4.5 hours my quads just blew apart. I have felt that pain before in ironman marathons and it didn’t scare me, but I had hoped it would be 6-7hrs into the race when I had to battle down the hatches and work hard, but it was 35 miles or so into the race. The prospect of almost 30 miles of that pain made me want to weep.

Through all my training, I had focused so hard on getting to the start line that I don’t think I had allowed myself to face the truth that I just didn’t quite have the endurance to perform at the level I wanted to.  Having an international vest on was a huge pressure and in hindsight meant the race probably became more important in my head than in the long term it really is. 

I spent the rest of the race thinking about my kids and concentrating on moving, when all I wanted to do was lie down on that sweet soft grass. I went back to basics and repeated left-foot-right-foot and for the last 10 miles, I simply counted to 100.  Literally not thinking about anything but counting to 100.  

Melissa Venables crept up on me and went on to win. I knew she was coming, but I was so scared that my legs would just give in completely, so I just concentrated on getting myself to the end.

I was bitterly disappointed, but I didn’t deserve to win that race. Mel ran the better race.  

Eddie and Mel at the Finish

How did you deal with mental aspect of running 42 loops of a park?

The laps didn’t bother me. I almost enjoyed it.  I totally zoned out of the lap number and concentrated on my splits and pace.   Although in the last couple of hours, I wasn’t really comfortable with everyone seeing me suffering every 12 minutes, but James Elson kept shouting at me, “one lap at a time” and that’s what I did.  I just focussed on one lap at a time.   Though the moment my lap counter shouted: “one lap to go, Edwina”, I could have kissed her. 

It looked like your support (Husband Bryn) was struggling to get you to eat.  Do you think that effected your race?

I wasn’t struggling to, I just wasn’t.  I guess as my race plan went out the window, I lost where I was with my feeding.  Not having a proper breakfast set me into a negative balance to start with and although I tried to shove in more calories at the start, I started feeling hungry within about 30 minutes. 

My stomach cramps meant solid food wasn’t working and really all I wanted was coke. By 50 miles I was literally downing litres of the stuff. Bryn still hasn’t recovered from every lap trying to make me take a gel and me just shouting ‘COKE’ in his face like our 3yr old.  So many errors, but we both learnt a lot from the experience and that is invaluable for going forward. 

And we now have a new term in our household for anyone having a major tantrum.  It’s called a lap 32-er.

Do you have a recovery plan?

With the kids there is no recovery.  It’s brutal, but it’s life. The week after an ultra I massively fail at parenting as I struggle to change nappies, cook meals and household chores take forever. But being busy and active – carrying scooters, pushing swings, lugging about car seats and walking the dog – get the blood flow going.     A lie in past 5.30am would be nice, but I try and focus on the controllable things in my life - lots and lots of good food and water, early to bed, family walks and fresh air.

What’s next for 2016?

The million dollar question.  Obviously when a race doesn’t quite go to plan then you immediately want to set another goal, have another crack at it and get training again, but I am mighty aware of the big picture and know I need a bit of down time. As do the family.

I don’t have any other races entered, but will either head back onto the trails and have a go at getting selected for the GB world trail team or will focus on running a decent 100km. Though I didn’t put the race together I thought I could on Sunday, I definitely enjoyed the distance and think six months down the line I would be in much better shape probably both mentally and physically to put in a decent performance.

Though I am desperately disappointed with the outcome of the race, I am very proud of the process it took to get me there and so grateful to my husband and the Centurion family for all their help. I’ll take a deep breath, let the race and all I have learned from the experienced sink in and go from there. 

Would you like to have another go at 100km?

Watch this space.

What are your top three would-love-to-do races for the future?

UTMB, Comrades and Western States 

2016 SDW50 Preview

Apr 01, 2016 (1 month ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2016, Preview

Well, here we are. The 2016 season is here! And to kick it all off we have our biggest starting field to date with an expected 400 runners converging on Worthing College this coming Saturday 9th April ready to run the 50 miles to Eastbourne. 

For many, this will be their first foray in to ultrarunning. But there are an equal number of highly experienced guys and girls too. With a team of over 100 volunteers out on course getting them there when times get rough.

As is tradition with our events, I've put together a quick snap shot of those who will be looking to push the front end of the field. Please do comment if something is incorrect or somebody is missing. We'd love to know!

WOMEN 

We're really excited to welcome a deep women's field to this event. 

Jess Gray: Jess burst on to the Centurion scene when she took home 2nd overall/ 1st lady at the 2015 NDW50. Jess has racked up a fine string of results since starting in 2014 with wins at Royal Parks 50km, the Chiltern 50km from XNRG and last year the Ridgeway 86 in a superb 14:17 good for second overall. She will have her sights on a solid performance here ahead of the SDW100 in June. A third at the season opener Country to Capital will have no doubt fired her up even more for this one. 

Amelia Watts: Amelia placed a superb 5th at the 2013 Marathon Des Sables and later that year went on to record wins at UTSW60 and Dusk Til Dawn 50. In 2015 she finished 4th at Race to the Stones and finished UTMB in a time of 33:28 good enough for 18th overall.  

Claire Shelley: Our 2012 SDW100 champion, Claire recently lowered her marathon PB to 3:04 with a stellar run at Seville in February. Claire's experience is huge, with a string of ultra finishes behind her and wins at races as prestigious as GUCR and the Oner. One thing is for sure, she will run her own race. 

Linn Erixon Sahlstrom: Linn has some strong finishes behind her over recent years, culminating in a couple of wins in 2015, at the Imber Ultra and at Endurancelife CTS Sussex. She's run under 8 hours for 50 before and will no doubt be looking to do the same again.

Susie Casebourne: Susie is a veteran of many Centurion events and over the years has clocked up wins at Caesars Camp 50 and has two previous SDW50's to her name including a 2nd in 2013.

MEN

The men's field looks wide open with no clear superfast runners as we've had in the past (Mark Perkins, Paul Navesey, Victor Mound are the previous winners). Certainly it makes for a very interesting race and possibly one that will come down to the wire. No doubt there are a couple of speedsters lurking that I've missed however....

Nick Greene: Nick has started 2016 well with a sub 6 at Country to Capital and a win at the Peddars Way 47 miler two weeks later. Nick has been a feature at Centurion events on both sides of the fence for many years. He has 3 SDW100 finishes including a 17:57 for 10th in 2014. In 2015 he went better at the TP100 and came in 2nd with a time of 16:52. Along with super finishes at classics like Leadville, Highland Fling and the Ridgeway, Nick also has a best at the SDW50 of 7:03 and will certainly be looking to run under 7 this time out. 

Ollie Sinclair: Ollie has a deep ultra background, with a career in Ironman before that. He has been a feature on the UK scene for a number of years and in his time has won and held records at some classic races such as Hardmoors 55 and Caesars Camp 50. He'll be looking for a strong outing here after a solid 2015 including a hard earned slog of a finish at the NDW100. He knows how to tough it out!

Warwick Gooch: Warwick has featured in previews a few times and rightly so. His experience over recent years has racked up, with a Centurion Grand Slam in 2014 in a stellar time including 2 Top 10s. With a GUCR finish and a solid Autumn 100 in 2015 he'll be looking to get 2016 off to a flier.

Wyclef Forbes: Wyclef ran home for 2nd at the 2014 Race to the Stones in 9:06, and has second places to his name at Marlborough Downland and Endurancelife CTS Anglesey.

 

An Interview with British 100km Champ Paul Navesey

Mar 30, 2016 (1 month ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2016

Fresh from winning last weekend’s Anglo Celtic Plate 100km in 6:58, we talk to team runner Paul Navesey about his successful debut at the distance. (Pictures: Debs Martin-Consani & Steve Navesey)

Tell us a little bit about your running background?  How did it all start?

It seemed like a very simple way to get a bit fitter, plus my pacing was so terrible I didn't have to run far to feel I'd worked pretty hard!  After running around by myself for a bit I joined Crawley AC who have an incredible ultrarunning history. I learned a bit more about training properly, pacing (although I was still a bit sh*t at it!) and different races.

Now I train with an excellent group of Sussex athletes, the training is hard but great fun and very productive! I have read quite a bit on running from the 70s/80s and this is getting towards what I imagine they were doing when they ran the outstanding times that are often not matched today.

You’re a fan of cross-country running.  Do you think that helps with ultra-running?

I'm not sure its conventional prep for 100km on the road but I do love XC racing. In the build up to ACP I ran pretty much a full XC season. Racing all the county league races, Sussex County Champs, Southern England Champs and finally the CAU Inter Counties as part of the Sussex team 2 weeks before ACP. The races are short, fast and very competitive. 

(Paul brings home the individual and team wins for England)

When you are so successful at traditional road race distances, why did you want to run 100K?

I had some spare gels that needed using up and I can only put so many on my porridge...

It was just a different type of race and having followed previous ACP and World Champs races online it started to intrigue me. I had only run ultra-distance races a couple of times on the road before at Dartmoor Discovery and thoroughly enjoyed those races. It’s also nice and simple, no pack to carry etc. It just combined what I enjoy about running which is putting on a vest, a pair of short shorts and going racing.

You hadn't run a qualifying race/time for Team England, so the selectors maybe took a bit of a gamble of you.  Did that make you want to prove yourself more? 

True! I'd not run a qualifying time at any of the required distances (50k, 40 miles or 100k). In fact, I didn't even have a recent marathon time to quote. I had entered the open race anyway so I was always going to be running the event. 

I am not sure if they would consider it a gamble but providing them with 10k and XC results maybe didn't make me the first choice... So I was quite keen not to screw it up!

What races did you do in the build up to the Anglo Celtic Plate?

I actually raced quite a lot more than I have done prior to previous ultra races. Plenty of XC races but I also raced Chichester 10k, Brighton Half Marathon and Milton Keynes 20 miles.

(Paul is a bit humble here, so I thought I’d add he ran 32:00 for the 10K, 1:08 for the half and won the MK20 in 1:52:13.  Fast, eh?) 

What did you training week look like?  Any favourite sessions?

Favourite sessions have to be joining the training group for long reps at Tilgate Park. Really hard work at times but lots of fun!

A typical week in build up to ACP would have been something like :

Mon - Long reps
Tue - Easy running.
Wed - Long run or track session
Thu - Easy running
Fri - Rest
Sat - XC race or long tempo run
Sun - Easy running or road race (If not racing today then no Sat race or session).

You led from the start.  Was that your plan?

I had a good idea of how fast I could run the 100k. I just wanted to get right down to it from the start, it wasn't planned it just happened that no one else joined me. It could well have backfired.  I feel I may have over-reached slightly in the first half, but I was confident in my preparation and it was a bit late to go changing the plan by then!

(Paul led the race from the gun)

Who was your main competition? 

When the teams were announced I was very keen to see who my team mates were. First up Anthony Clarke from the infamous group at Bournemouth AC and their Steve Way Wednesday night marathon sessions.  Chris Singleton, also very quick over the marathon and ultra-trail races. Nathan Montague, the only member of the men’s team to have run the 100k distance on road before. So even without venturing to the other national teams there was plenty of competition! Scotland for example had Marco Consani and Wales had Daniel Weston. Both having previously run 100k at the ACP in solid times.

Luckily.... we have Strava! It was great to see how the other guys were preparing and great to see the England team looking strong in the build-up. I got to meet Chris at the Inter County XC champs as he'd earned his Lancs vest for the event. Nice to know I wasn't the only one trying to run a hilly XC race in the build up to a flat road 100k.

How did you deal with the mental battle of running 42 laps?

I was never worried about the number of laps, I spent a fair amount of time running with CR team mate Robbie Britton over the last year or two and he's got a pretty positive way of looking at lapped races... and he's had to run a lot more than 42 laps.

I was never going to get lost (Once other team mate Eddie told me the direction I was meant to be running) and never more than a few minutes from crew with food, drink and any information I wanted.

Any highs and lows?

Actually no major lows. I was warned about the final 30k and sure enough, going in to that my legs really started to complain. That was the only low as I saw my lap times drop off from where I wanted to keep them. Something that although I was told about, was a bit unfamiliar to me, I know I can work on that now.

On the flip side, loads of highs. From cheers every lap, the announcements in the final few laps, starting the last lap and obviously the finish.

Having seen the rest of the team on the course at points it was great to see them all finish so strongly. I am a big fan of team events.

Did you have a specific nutritional plan?

I had a very simple nutrition plan. As much as I like food and eating I just opted for a Mule Gel every 3rd lap, an S-cap on each hour and coke to finish!

 

(Paul heading out through the start finish area)

Was your support crew an important part of your race success?

Yes, without a doubt. They were incredible. From passing gels and water, giving me information, guarding portaloos to taking photos. Can't thank them enough. 

(Paul with his family and crew at the finish) 

What’s next for you?

I am going to be spending my summer racing track and shorter road races. I'd love a GB vest and another crack at the 100k, so I will also be very interested once there is more information on the World 100k event.

Assuming you have another crack at 100km, what do you think you could do to improve your already fantastic time?

I will have another crack at it. I have a couple of ideas, first of all is improving speed, improving my marathon pace and then increasing the volume of my long runs slightly. I don't want to make drastic changes so will use a very similar training process as I did but better.

(Paul Navesey with Edwina Sutton pre-race. Eddie captured 2nd in the ladies race).

What’s your favourite running gear?

A pair of arm warmers! It’s a good day when you can dig out a vest and arm warmers for a run or race. Easy way to control temperature and a very handy place to stuff some food!

Thanks, Paul.  Very insightful.  So all you need is arm warmers, a few gels and a portaloo guard…?  Oh and some kick ass speed.

Follow Paul on twitter @paulnavesey or find him on Strava.  Be warned though…his training speed might make you cry.

Athens 24hr. Eating to a Team GB standard.

Mar 28, 2016 (1 month, 1 week ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2016, race, reports

Here it is. A blog about running around a 1km tarmac loop for 24hrs.

I think a few people were under the impression that Athens 24hr earlier this March was my first attempt at the distance. It most certainly was not. My illustrious 24hr career has so far involved some total car crash performances BUT, I learned a little at each one. And they were so important in laying the foundation for having a good race. 

A few years ago when some of my closer friends started getting themselves Team GB National jerseys, I decided I'd really like to try and qualify for something. At the time, I was woefully short of both the speed and endurance that I would have actually needed to get any of the Ultra Distance Teams: 50km, 100km, Trail, 24hr. But I'd run a lot of long races and thought that the 24hr had to be my best option. Through 2012-2015 I shoe horned 24hr races in to the beginning or end of seasons often on the back of A races, just to see if I could 'run the standard'. Well I didn't get anywhere near. 

When I started trying, the minimum standard for the GB Mens' 24hr team was 231km. As we have gotten stronger and stronger over recent years with the likes of Robbie Britton, Marco Consani, Pat Robbins, Steve Holyoak, John Pares, Dan Lawson etc, running bigger and bigger numbers, the standards have gone up. And the team level required for the 2016 Euro Champs was set at 240km or roughly 150 miles. 

In 2015 I ran 2 x sub 15hr 100 milers, and had a crack at Barcelona 24 again at the end of the season. I had a really good 10hrs or so but the wheels came off, I'd gone too fast, my legs just didn't have enough miles in them after the 100 in Mid-October, and I stopped 11hrs in. Marco went on to show how it was done and ran 256km to win the race and solidify his well earned place in the squad. There was still one place left in the team.

So I abandoned all other first half 2016 plans and focused 100% on Athens 24hr in Mid March. 

The differences this time were:

a. I knew I had the speed and endurance. The two faster trail 100s were hard but not debilitiatingly so. Sure I would not have wanted to carry on for another 50 miles but I came out of both pretty well.
b. My marathon time came down from half a dozen efforts in the 2:50's, to a 2:43 at Seville in February, so that was a good sign. The only other race in the training block was Country to Capital where I managed to turn in a suprising win.
c. I can really pack away a large amount of calories during longer runs and that is a major advantage for this format (see below)
d. I had a 12 week training block focused on one thing - going long on flat road.
e. I had a half decent runner with a top knot who just happened to finish 3rd in the World Champs last year crewing for me.
f. I had no more excuses.

I went out to Athens with confidence. Richard Brown the incumbent 24hr Team Manager emailed me to say 'just go and do what we all know you are capable of'. That fired me up.

Robbie and I arrived in Greece and took the bus to TGI Fridays where the waiter left me a love note. The next morning we got up and travelled over to the disused Airport & Olympic facilities. At 5pm we began. The loop is a 1km circuit on road out on to a disused car park.

There were some characters out on course. Most prominent in my day was Lithuania. Lithuania went off like a rocket. I've seen this many times at many different events and ignored it, but his first km was in the 3:30 range which was truly extraordinarily optimistic. We also had a man running the 48hr who we quickly ascertained was cutting the course in half as a charade of 'going for toilet'. Robbie and Dan Lawson had him DQ'd after some fine investigative work.

Lithuania (Aleksander) and I

My plan was - nothing under 8 min mile pace. Unlike at Barcelona where the first 60 miles were under 8 min mile pace. I ignored the rest of the field and focused in. I was about 5th or 6th through the marathon and on a sort of 5:15 lap / 8:20 mile pace. The difference was I knew I still had to be on that pace at 100 miles. After 6 or so hours, it started hacking it down and a keen wind brought a miserable period. But it passed. Robbie was feeding me like you wouldn't believe. I'd written a nutrition plan, and he definitely took it to the letter which was just what I needed. He managed during the race to crew me flawlessly, write down what I ate (see bottom of this post), get the 48hr cheat DQ'd and tweet the shit out of the race the whole time. 

7 hours in and Lithuania was lapping me out of all contention, but his blow up was surely inevitable and anyway I was there to do a job. 240km was all that mattered. 

My splits were all good and I ran a really good 3 hour section up to 100 miles to come through just a minute outside my PB in 14:37. Robbie then pointed out that this was irrelevant and threw a cherry tomato at my head. Again.

Past that point the maths started to really eat me alive. I just kept working on running every step, aiming for just over 10km an hour and giving myself a shot for when it got really tough. Between 15hrs and 18hrs into the race I had my first and only real low point but it was a 3hr one. I didn't stop running and I kept eating, but my body clock was now in the small hours of the morning UK time, and I'd been up for 24hrs with the 5pm start time so I just had a dip. But then almost with the click of a button, I felt ok again. My 2 year old, Louis, normally gets up around 0630 and afterwards I realised that right around that time in the equivalent point of the race, my body seemed to say it was ok to be up and running again.

At this point, Lithuania had destroyed the race. His 100 mile split was a staggering 12:35 and he'd lapped me 20 times. He then slowed to my pace, I told him what I was there to do and we fell in step for the hours of 18 - 22 in to the race. This was a really good period where we just got it done. We hiked a 50 metre section of very gradual incline at the start of a lap and then ran the rest. So all of our miles were in the 9:40 - 10:30 range and that was just what I needed to do. 200km passed with 18:54 on the clock and I knew then that things were looking good.

About 2hrs to go and Dan Lawson (who's own 48hr had not gone to plan but stuck around to support), appears with a Magnum. What a moment. Just after, another toilet stopped separated my partnership with Lithuania and I began to unlap myself ever so gradually as he hiked it out to the finish. 

With an hour to go I had 236km on the board. I always think in those times to Brian Morrison collapsing on the track with less than 300 metres to go in the lead of Western States in 2006. only to be DQd as Scott Jurek and others picked him up and helped him over the line. The km that took me from 239 to 240 was however a DAMN good feeling. All of those demons floating away on the breeze from 4 years of thinking about running a good 24hr.

With 29 mins to spare, Robbie snapped a picture and I went out on lap 241 slowly on to the finish from there with a final total of 242.497km or 150.6 miles. Lithuania walked his way to 260km. A massive total. Ok he was on pace for a WR for 10 hours or so but despite a really crazy pacing plan that is a great showing. Third place was around 205km.

A massive thank you to Robbie for all of his help this time. But also to Paul Navesey who crewed me for the previous 4 total shit shows. Nothing to do with his exceptional crewing, just my poor running.

Thanks to Richard Brown, Dan Lawson and his family who stayed all day to support me when their own races had not worked out. To Richard for putting up with me talking a good game for about ten years.

Thanks to La Sportiva, Gu Energy UK, Julbo and Petzl for the support. I ran the whole race in a trail shoe. The Helios SR - it's that versatile. I am hoping that is some kind of WORLD RECORD for that shoe.

What's next? Hopefully I make the team for the European Champs in October. I took the 6th and final remaining slot by reaaching the standard. I hope I can do it justice if I make it, certainly it will become my sole focus for the time being.

Here is what I ate:

Hour 0 Gu , 200m water , 200 water , Biscuit, S cap

Hour 1 Mars bar, 100 water, Gu, Cheese, 200 water, 3 pringles, Scap

Hour 2 Mars bar, 100 water, 4 Pringles, 100 water, Gu, 150 water, Biscuit, Scap, 100 water

Hour 3 Mars Bar, 100 water, 4 Pringles, Gu, 150 water, Biscuit, Scap, 100 water

Hour 4 Mars bar, 150m water, Biscuit, Gu, Cheese, 100m water, Scap

Hour 5 Mars Bar, 100m water, 6 Pringles, Gu, 100m water, 5 Pringles, 100m water, Biscuit, Scap

Hour 6 100m water, Mars bar, 2 pringles, 100m water, Gu, 100 water, 3 pringles, 100 water, Scap

Hour 7 Mars Bar, 50 water, Gu, 100 water, 3 Pringles, Scap, 100m water

Hour 8 Mars Bar, 100m, water 2 pringles, Gu, 100 water, 2 pringles, 100 water, Scap

Hour 9 Biscuit, 100 water, 2 pringles, 100m water, Gu, 100 water, 3 pringles, Scap

Hour 10 100 water, Mars bar, 50 water, Gu, 100 water, 3 Pringles, Scap, 100 water

Hour 11 Biscuit, 1.5 pringles, 100 water, Gu, 3 pringles, 100 water, Mars bar, Scap, 30 water

Hour 12 Biscuit, 100 water, Mars bar, 100 water, 2 pringles, Scap, 50 water

Hour 13 Small cheese, Cherry tomato, 100 water, 2 pringles, Small cheese, 3/4 Biscuit, Cherry tomato, Scap, Swig water

Hour 14 Small cheese, Square of pizza, 100m water, Small cheese, 2 pringles, 100 water, Swig Coke, 50ml coke, Mars bar, Scap, Water 100

Hour 15 2 pringles Biscuit 100 water 2 pringles Swig of coke Scap at :45 100 water, Swig of coke

Hour 16 100 water 50 coke Biscuit 200 water Coke and water - 150m 3/4 Biscuit Coke and water - 150m Scap

Hour 17 Small cheese, Tomato, Small cheese, Tomato, Coke and water, 150m Coke and water 100ml, Mars bar, Coke and water 150 m, Scap, 100m water

Hour 18 Half a Mars bar 100m water and coke 2 peach slices 100 m water Mars bar Scap 150m water and coke

Hour 19 Scap, Water, Water and coke, Peach slices

Hour 20 Cheese, Tomato, Cheese, Tomato, 150m water, 100m coke  

Hour 21 Coke, Water, Cheese, Cherry tom, Magnum, Cookie, Scap 

Hour 22 Coke, Scap 

Hour 23 Coke

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