Centurion Ultramarathon Blog

2015 Thames Path 100 Preview

Apr 27, 2015 (5 days, 22 hours ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: Preview

The first 100 of the season is upon us. With a warm dry winter, the course is in good shape though with some rain expected this week the usual sticky spots may still apply. As always, however, the field is expected to go out hard and it remains to be seen this year whether anyone can hang on to the early pace. Our 2012 event saw Craig Holgate blitz the course in 15:11 and Mimi Anderson run away with the win in 18:50, times which haven't been threatened since, although in 2013 the conditions put pay to that all on their own. Can anyone come close this year?

As always, this preview comes with the usual caveats. It's compiled by me and largely using nothing more than hearsay plus a bit of investigation on DUV Statistik. If you know of someone who's missing and could contend please do leave a comment. 

Men's Field

Martin Bacon: Martin has finished all 3 TP100s and was champion in 2013 in appalling conditions. His best of 17:41 in 2012 was good enough for 3rd that year behind Craig and Robbie Britton, 2014's 7th being his lowest finish position. Although he is the first to admit that youth isn't on his side, he likes to go out hard and mix it up from the gun. If he can hang tougher than he did in 2014 he could well be in contention come the final stages. Certainly with his Sparta finish in 2014 he will take confidence in to this race.

Gary House: Gary makes the preview by virtue of one particular stand out performance, his 130 mile Leeds Liverpool Canal time from last year, of 23:41. Pat Robbins may well have disappeared out of sight for the win, but Gary's time is very solid indeed and clearly he knows how to get a result on the flat trails the TP has to offer. 

Max Wilcocks: Ultra running's answer to George Clooney, Max has run a couple of cracking 100's, most notably his 2013 SDW100 where he finished 3rd in 16:58. He has a number of sub 7hr 50 milers behind him and a 3rd place at last years Race to the Stones 100km. Just recently he posted a 49 mile final training effort on the track at Crawley 12hr so if he is fresh and recovered he will be looking to go all the way here. 

Chris Howe: Chris' legendary low training mileage doesn't seem to affect him often when he shows up to races. He's finished UTMB twice as well as the SDW100 and in the last couple of years, racked up some solid wins at shorter distance ultra trail events in the UK. Our main man at Profeet Rich Felton puts him on a sub 17hr potential finish on a strong day and that should be good enough to put him in contention. 

Sam Robson: Sam will be going in to the first race of his 2015 slam with high hopes for sure. He has raced well in the past at the SDW100 finishing 2nd in the first year of the race, 2nd at the Viking Way Ultra in 2013 and putting in a very solid Spartathlon in 2014 where he finished in 32:04. Sam is perhaps capable of much more, could this be a really stand out run with which to kick off the year....?

Nick Greene: Final nod goes to Nick Greene who will be there to pick up any carnage from the early pace. Nick is a super solid runner and has focused on this race. With a 14:48 at the Ridgeway for 4th last year and a sub 18hr SDW100, he could well be looking at a time somewhere a good ways south of 17hrs, potentially good enough to walk off with the win.

Women's Field

A few stand out names on the female runners list this year.... (Sally Ford added)

Mimi Anderson: Mimi comes in to the TP100 the course record holder and 2012 champion. Her racing history is too deep to mention here, her results over a long period of time outstanding - having taken part in and won many of the world's longest ultra's over the last 15 years of her ultra career. She knows the course and knows how to run long and flat trails.

Elisabet Barnes: Elisabet has turned in some astonishing results of late. In the last 6 weeks alone she won the Marathon Des Sables and this past weekend clocked a sub 3 at London. Previously this year she won and set course records at Country to Capital and the Pilgrims Way. If she is at the TP to race it's certainly going to be fascinating to see what kind of level of performance she can turn in but on recent evidence she could set a new benchmark without a shadow of a doubt.

Sally Ford: Sally finished 6th in 2013 and 2nd in 2014, bettering her time to 20:19 overall so the question remains can she go all the way this time out? She has notched up a number of wins, podiums and top tens at a variety of ultra distances in the last few years so is undoubtedly going to get stronger and stronger.  

 

2015 SDW50 Preview

Mar 15, 2015 (1 month, 2 weeks ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2015, Preview

So here we are with the first race of the 2015 Centurion season! The SDW50 is our biggest field of the year and our fastest race. With British ultrarunning going from strength to strength the fields are getting deeper, despite the growing number of events. It's fantastic to see some drama unfolding at the front end as runners begin to push each other and hence overall times, to the limits.

This preview comes with the usual caveats. It's compiled by me and largely using nothing more than hearsay plus a bit of investigation on DUV Statistik. Usually it's pretty close to the mark, but if you know of someone who's missing and could contend please do leave a comment. 

Men's Field

Paul Navesey: Where else to start with the Centurion Ultra Teams' finest, the reigning champ and Course Record holder. His 6:11 last year was a stellar performance and one he ran by himself, right from the gun. Paul is his own harshest critic in terms of standards and immediately began to analyse where those 11 minutes (and more) could be found. He's capable of going a lot quicker than he did in 2014. 

Victor Mound: Possibly Paul's biggest threat this time out. Victor is a name we are bound to hear much more of, at just 21 years of age and with a couple of eye opening performances behind him. Victor picked up 4th last year, coming in just under the 7hr mark. His 1st place at CTS Dorset in December brought him home over an hour ahead of second place which was a stand out performance. His short distance speed is better than anyone else in the field, recently clocking 14:53 over 5km. He also nailed a training run on the last part of the course just a few weeks ago stealing most of Paul's Strava Course Records on route..... This will be just his 4th ultra from the looks of things but he will certainly be pushing the pace. 

jon ellis: Not much I can say here because he recently ran what looks like it was his first ultra, but my it was a fast one, taking home third place at Go Beyonds Country to Capital (43 miles) in 5:13. If he can replicate that kind of speed over 50 and on a course with a lot more gain and descent, it could get interesting.... Looks like he has a couple of sub 3 hr marathons to his name too. 

Paul Radford: Paul's ultra resume feels like it should be a lot longer than it is because he's been competitive on the scene for the last few years, but in reality this will only be his 6th ultra. From those however, he has 4 top 10s to his name including most notably a 14:14 for the 86 mile Ridgeway Challenge last year, losing out only to Nathan Montague's CR. Paul knows the course having run it last year and with a strong early season performance at Country to Capital behind him he'll want to shine here. 

David Pryce: David has been getting stronger and faster since his start in ultra running back in 2011 and his first year of 100s in 2012. Second place at the TP100 in 2014, followed by becoming the first and only finisher at the 214km Chiltern Way Ultra and a finale of winning the Piece of String Fun Run to end the year, he clearly has the mental and physical attributes to keep improving and certainly should be looking at a sub 7hr finish. 

Jack Blackburn: My man Richard Felton at Profeet has put his runner forward last minute as a contender. With a 6th at the RPU 50km and 4th at Race to The Stones in 2014, it'll be interesting to see if he can match Richard's prediction of his going a way under 7hrs....

Women's Field

Sarah Morwood: This is shaping up to be a superb race. Heading the list is Sarah Morwood, who has run 5 x 100 milers, winning 4 of them and finishing just outside the Top 10 at UTMB. She ran strong enough across 2014 to earn herself a slot in Team GB's Trail side for the World Champs this year and has run the SDW50 before finishing 3rd in 2013. Having also won the SDW100 in 2014, she'll want to be doing the same here for sure.

Sarah Perkins: Sarah was closing hard in the final stages last year to finish 2nd to Edwina Sutton's course record. That was followed by a 2nd place at the UK 100km Champs in 8:25 (both were preceeded by a win at the Thames Trot). Sarah will be hoping some coaching from Team CR runner and husband Mark, has paid off. She ran home with a win at the Steyning Stinger earlier this month so she should be in shape to look to go one better this year. 

Emily Canvin: In 2013, Emily did the double, winning the SDW50 and the NDW50. Her SDW win came from some good running but also a bit of luck as she picked up from navigational errors of runners ahead. Her NDW50 was a superb run and at 7:49 is the course record there by over 20 minutes. She's kicked off 2015 with a bang, running home second in the Thames Trot. She will be looking for something special again here. 

Gemma Carter: Gemma has recently made the headlines, running a World Best for 50km on the treadmill, coming in just under 4hrs and ahead of Tracey Deans effort in late 2014. On the trails, Gemma has picked up 6 top 10 places in her 7 ultra finishes, most notably perhaps her 3rd at the SDW50 last year in 7:32. She rounds out the contenders for what will be a fascinating race. 

 

100 Mile Training Elements

Feb 11, 2015 (2 months, 2 weeks ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: training-tips

This post follows on from the Building a Plan post from last year. It's designed to pick the general elements that contribute to success at specifically a 100 mile trail race, though many of the facets can be applied to ultras/ running events of all distances. 

This blog is about the central components of successful training ONLY, within each individual heading is a huge range of detail. What's important is to get the general principles right, before drilling down and fine tuning. 

The structure of this post is to take an individual contributing element to success, look at the top line ingredients to fulfilling that element, and offer a real life example of how some of those things might be applied by focusing on my own lead up to the 2015 Rocky Raccoon 100. 

Two things to consider within each heading. Firstly, the application of each elements particularly in terms of quantity and quality will vary dependent on the background of the individual. Secondly, by no means do I consider my RR100 performance to be that of an elite athlete or a shining example for all to follow. It's simply there as an example of application in a real life situation.

Finally, if you are someone looking for completion of as many events as possible, races all the time, or who has multiple ultra races planned within close proximity to one another (I;ve done all three in the past), many of these elements will need to be heavily adapted or eliminated completely. Adapt things to those which work for you but try to still formulate the outline of a plan. 

Overview

The central premise of training in general and particularly in training for 100's where things can very quickly become all consuming and confusing, are:

Keep It simple. Keep it consistent. Keep it productive.

What does that mean?

Simplicity: Don't overcomplicate your training with specifics until you are doing the basics right. 

Consistency: The greatest single contributing factor to your success at the distance, is consistency in training. Consistency is built day by day, week by week, month by month. It's no good running 30 miles as your weekend long run, if you aren't recovered enough to train producitvely again until Thursday. Plan your training. Write down what you'd like to fit in and match that against your work-life commitments at the start of each week to maintain consistency as far as possible.

Productivity: Make every mile count. Is your session going to A. improve your aerobic endurance. B. Work your Threshold/ Lactate to improve your speed/ form efficiency and strength. C. Speed up your recovery. It's ok to run miles for enjoyment only, sessions with no specific objective. But limit the miles you are running in to one of those categories and you will make gains on all counts, more quickly. 

Stress/ Making Time

Reducing stress is the key to maintaining focus and consistency. Almost every runner headed to your goal event has commitments of family, work, commute and these things all induce stress at various times. If you do not look forward to your running, if it seems like a chore, then running is in itself a contributing factor to that overall stress. If that applies to you, consider taking a step back and thinking through if the timing is right to make the commitment to training for a 100 mile race. 

By writing a plan, you will find you make time going in to each day, to fit that session in. Having no plan usually equates to missed sessions or decreased productivity. Squeezing a session in at a less than optimum time is simply a reality of our busy lives and that's ok. Not running because you planned your day badly and otherwise could have, is frustrating and has a negative impact on your consistency. 

Writing Your Plan: Polarised Training/ Phases

The article Building Your Plan goes in to more detail on this element. This is the area is where generalisations are most broad. These are very top line guiding principles only, you must apply your plan to where you are at in your running career and where you are in your cycle.

For a 100 mile race, aerobic endurance is of paramount importance. As such a polarised training model is one to consider following. That is, your training should either be easy, or very hard. 

Simply, run the majority of your mileage Easy/ in Zone 2, working your aerobic system and make the most signficant gains on your endurance whilst allowing your body to recover quickly to be able to train again and maintain consistency/ run more often. Working your aerobic base works your aerobic metabolism, teaching your body to burn fat and become more efficient at covering longer distances. Running easy promotes that, running out of zone 2 does not. So if you train too often in the middle ground, between easy and hard, you are training your body to do something you are not asking of it in a 100 mile race. Run slower to get faster. Here's my favourite video of how the polarised training model functions. (Stick with it).

Include quality training: Speed (Tempo, Progression, Interval, Fartlek) and/or hill work once-twice per week. Hard running should formulate around 15%-20% of your total weekly mileage. Hard work outs need to wait until the Build and Peak phases of your plan. Don't start speed work too early. Begin by incorporating a few fast intervals of 800m to 1 mile within easier work outs. Speed work is going to strengthen your muscles and ligaments but is requiring of more load in order to do that, so earlier in a cycle you are more prone to injury by incorporating these work outs.

Pick a total training block and within it (don't exceed 12 weeks), break it down in to key periods. If your training block is longer than 12 weeks, then consider a stepping stone race(s) on route that allow you to split it down in to more than one block of between 6 and 12 weeks, ideally around 8.

- Base: Simply building your aerobic base
- Build: Introduction of Harder work outs and increasing mileage gradually to continue progression of aerobic base
- Peak: This should not be a big jump from your build. Simply 2-4 weeks where you are operating at a consistent high level.
- Taper: Make sure you give your body and mind a chance to recover from the rigours of training.
*Drop an easy week in between each one of these phases.

This is a huge topic and one I am going to end there with for now.

After a 3 week break following the Bob Graham Round, I ran 2 easy weeks and 3 Base weeks before an easier week. 4 Build Weeks followed, then 3.5 Peak weeks and a 16 day taper which has always worked well for me. You can see the pattern of mileage/ time/ elevation gain in the picture below. Ignore the mileage. That is what worked individually for me, on this occassion. It is certainly not indicative of what is generally necessary for success at a 100 mile event. Many do more, many who do less will still perform significantly better than myself. 

 

Period 1 to mid Build. Period 2 to Race. Races in Red.

Quantity & Quality: How many miles should I run?

The most common question asked of us. One thing is critically important to working this out, that is that you are completely different to the next person. Generally speaking you want to run as much productive mileage as you can, without compromising on consistency or on your health (illness/ injury). Ask yourself how much you can really fit in? Don't look at the mileage element, look at the time element. An off road run through ploughed field 'trails' in British winter is not the same as a road run in the summer. The former could easily equate to 1.5 times the latter in terms of mins per mile or total time for session mileage.

A particularly 'high quality and fast' local trail in my area. 

I will use two extreme examples to give you an idea of how wide a net can be cast here. In training for relative 100 mile events over a 10 week period we have had top finishers setters at our events average at the lowest 40 miles per week and at the highest, over 200 miles per week in the 10 weeks prior to race day. 

Find an optimum level that works for you, ensuring your mileage is productive. If the session is working the three things we mentioned before; aerobic endurance, speed/ strength, recovery, then it can stay. It will be hard to fit it all in at times, that's life. But don't be lazy, run as a habit and do it as often as you can whilst allowing for adequate rest and recovery (rest can mean an easy run and doesn't have to mean total rest). 

For RR100 I looked for gains through sustaining my highest average mileage since pre-Badwater in 2010. I began running daily, cutting out complete rest days and found that a short 25-30 minute jog left me feeling better and more recovered than total rest. They were just what worked for me on this occassion. 

One thing I found useful for aerobic training with a young baby, was the baby jogger. It allowed me to get out of the house and kill three birds with one stone. The baby got fresh air and often fell asleep comfortable in the jogger. I got my run in. My wife got a break. Marginal gains!

Pacing & Pace vs Effort

Simply, when you run off road, ignore your pace and look at your effort or Heart Rate instead. Running to effort is a crucial skill for 2 main reasons on a 100 mile trail event. Firstly, being off road, the underfoot conditions and elevation changes you are likely to experience make every mile different. Consider how reducing your run to a steady hike on a steeper climb leaves you working at the same effort as a run on the flat. Balance that effort and practice keeping it as steady as possible during longer runs. Secondly, your Heart Rate will show significant drift and will more than likely, not be a reliable source of biometric feedback in the latter stages of the race. 

All of my off road runs in training were based on effort and not pace. I got used to running without a GPS and subsequently during the event practised the simple act of remaining 'comfy' as opposed to concerning myself with my splits. I used splits at key points in the race only to reference my performance and likely outcome. 

Social Media/ Training tools

Read blogs and information shared by top runners and experienced coaches. Do not allow consumption of other runner racing or training to lead you off course, pick elements of others plans that make sense and fall in line with your general principles to fine tune your training. Have faith in what you are doing. Be inspired by others but aim to inspire others by setting your own example. 

Mental/ Emotional

Visualise yourself running the event during training. Do the training that gives you the confidence that you will have a good day. Be prepared for low patches and know how to reduce those plus turn them back in to good patches. By doing back to back long runs you will likely suffer some mental lows. Work through them by practicing your pacing and your fueling, and allow yourself to build confidence in the knowledge that the lows will not last. 

Reduce stress on race day by planning as much as you can ahead of time, not just for the ideal race day, but for eventualities if things are not as you expected ie. bad weather, poor underfoot conditions, high or low temperatures and/ or changes to the race course.

Going in to RR100 I had one element here where you could argue both a significant advantage. As my 5th running of the event I knew exactly how things were likely to unfold, from what restaurant I planned to eat in pre-race, to how the course looked. I was able to plan everything and reduce the travel, fueling and pacing plans down to their most simple elements whilst also allowing for eventualities like bad weather or freezing temperatures, both of which I had experienced there before. Visualising doing well at the race was therefore very easy. Recce ing courses up front is something that isn't just a good idea for me, it's essential. I would point blank not show up to a 100 mile unless I had either recce-d it numerous times in training, if local, or studied every facet of the course (video/ blog/ google earth) if international. 

Racing as training.

Racing or running in a race, is a skill on it's own. Not just in terms of tactics and execution, but in terms of preparing for it, packing for it, eating and drinking before hand, getting a good night's sleep free from anxiety over what's to come. If you race more, you will find that your stress prior to 100 mile race day is likely reduced. 

Use shorter races as stepping stones to: Practice turning up to and running a race, As Speed Work, As Performance indicators through a training cycle, As a confidence boost.

You have a Park Run near you that happens every week. These are free and great community events. Use them in your training. Local 10k's, Half Marathons and Marathons are also great as long as you feel you can bounce back quickly and maintain consistency the following week. 

If you are planning on including ultras as part of your training, consider the impact they will have on your consistency. Within 12 weeks of a 100 miler, a long race will likely require a period of taper and recovery. Is it possible that the length of time the race will remove from your key training block, will outweigh the psychological and physical benefits plus experience of running that event? If no then run the event. If yes, then consider what is most important to you. 

Traditionally I've always run races regularly in training for confidence/ ensure my training is on track, as PI's and as solid work outs in their own right. Nothing pushes me harder than racing others. For various reasons mostly owing to having a 1 year old son and running bigger mileage than usual, I found my time to be able to travel to races would be time poorly spent ie. I could save on the hour travel to and from a local race and fit in extra run time as a result. The two races I did fit in (1 x marathon, 1 x 5km) went well, but what made them excellent were that they formed part of a standard training week with no taper and no loss of consistency. 

Long Runs 

Ask yourself if your long runs impact on your consistency. Running 20 miles on a Saturday and 30 miles on a Sunday may allow you to recover in time to run a productive session on the Tuesday. Running 50 miles on either day in one go, will likely not. The reality for many of us is that the weekend is the only time in the week where we can fit long runs in, but by doing two shorter runs you may well find you become far more productive both within that week and over the course of weeks and months. If you are not held to a standard working week, then think about extending your training cycle to 10 days, fitting long runs in. 

Long runs for RR100 consisted of 4 - 4.5hrs easy, following on from 2-3hrs easy the previous day. I was looking for some fatigue towards the end of the 30's and generally experienced that in a minor way. After each big weekend I was able to return to quality training on the Tuesday after a recovery run on the Monday. 

Rest/ Recovery/ Sleep/ Diet

The most important single factor in recovery and therefore consistency of training, is sleep. It's easy to forget that it's not the session itself that makes you fitter, but the process of recovering from it and allowing your body to rebuild stronger. If your sleep is compromised, your body will not recover as quickly or as well. Allow for that in your training and respond to it if you have had poor sleep.

Similarly, consider your diet. Make small gains by eating whole foods and arming your body with everything it needs in order to rebuild stronger and more quickly. I am not going to touch on diet in any further detail here, other than to say that eating a rounded, healthy diet should easily be enough to keep you on track through the entire process of training for and running a 100 mile event.

With a baby under 1 year old, the biggest single challenge I faced in training for RR100 was sleep. Typically, our son would go to bed around 1900, and wake up twice in the night for feeding/ drinking, rising around 0700 the next day. As most parents will know, babies rarely sleep quietly in between waking, shouting or crying in their sleep. All of this meant that I would typically be awake for a large portion of the night, most nights. At no point did I have one continuous sleep through. The reality was that impacted my recovery and some of my runs went poorly as a result. In particular if I left training until late at night, after our son had gone down, I found that I simply didn't have the energy to complete a session as planned. One key long run was binned less than half way through as a result. But making that time to sleep intead of continuing with an unproductive session, allowed me to train again the following day to a productive level.

Specificity

Simply, make your training specific to your race. Particularly focus on specificity in your long runs. Make them as similar to your race day as possible, if you can do them on the race course itself, then that is ideal. Here's two very basic examples of things to think about, out of a huge number that could be included:

- Are you going to run the entire race or is it likely that quite a significant element of hiking will be involved? Then, have you practised hiking in training?
- Does your race go through the night? In all likelehood yes, have you spent time running with your headlamp?

During my long run sessions I carried, ate and drank as I planned to at RR100 and ran routes with similar elevation profiles on similar terrain to that of the race. Many of my easy runs were at night with the headlamp I planned to use during the race, leaving it on afterwards to see what the drain time was like on the battery.

 

Training in the Lakes with Paul Navesey. Great work out, not good for specificity for RR100.

Nutrition, Hydration, Gear, Footwear

Again these are endless subjects so initially think about the basics:

Train in a variety of footwear, but return principally to the shoe you plan to use during the race. Change your shoes regularly, don't wait for the onset of injury as footwear becomes too worn down. 

Train with the exact gear you will use on race day, as often as you can. Have to wear a pack with mandatory gear on board for an event? Wear that pack, fully loaded on your long runs. Work out where it might chaffe or rub and adjust for it. Reduce what you need down to a minimum to save weight but don't leave yourself short on the quality of an item or leave it out altogether if it might save your race.

Eat and drink on your long runs how you plan to in the race. Build a race nutrition plan and stick to it. Don't try something new on the day. Rely on real food complemented by sports nutrition where possible. 

PLAN! Are you 100% sure how long your headlamp battery lasts!! This issue occurs so often in 100s.

I decided on two shoes in advance of RR100, a dry course shoe and a wet course shoe. The course was dry and as such a road shoe was the best, lightest option with the greatest comfort. If trail is dry, often road shoes are a good choice. Fueling wise I went in with a plan to stick to gu gels and supplement with real food where I needed. I took S! Caps regularly and carried a handheld water bottle througout. All of these things were rehearsed over and over again in training. The weight of 700ml of water on your arm for a day is a lot to deal with if you aren't used to doing it in training! I have previously at my most extreme eaten 300kcals per hour of cookies and cheese to fuel a 100, and eaten a massive 74 gels to fuel another. Neither worked. Fine tuning over time allowed me to reach a point I am happy with. 

Physical Prep/ S&C/ Massage/ Foam Roll

Running a lot is a constant cycle of breaking your body down and rebuilding it back stronger. Foam rolling and regular sports massage are essential in preventing injuries and maintaining consistency. Much strength and conditioning can be done through off road running, because that exercise works not only the main muscle groups but all of the supporting muscles and ligaments too. Specific S&C/ Physical Prep will give you added strength if brought in successfully to complement the running. Using your own body weight at first is fine. Yoga, Cross Fit, Swimming, Cycling and other cross training activities should be employed once per week for either recovery or general strength and conditioning. Apply them to the plan when they won't impact upon your run training. 

That's It

There's a lot to think about here. Start with the very top line principles and apply them vertically to your training, adding detail only once you are sure you are getting the fudamentals correct.  

Rocky Raccoon 100 V

Feb 04, 2015 (2 months, 3 weeks ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: race report | Tags: racereports, 2014 racereports, reports

Rocky Raccoon continues to be a great early season throw down. In it's 23rd year, it's seen everyone from Anton to Hal to Scott to Karl to Mike to Ian come and race and this year it was also the US 100 mile Champs.

The trails are great. 5 x 20 mile loops isn't the same as point to point and you'll probably scream at the roots and resent the rollers by the end but at 5500ft total climb you aren't going to get much flatter and faster for a 100% trail race.

Here's some photos I took last time....Hi Paul!

This was my fifth time at RR100. It was my first 100 in 2009, my first DNF in 2011 and since then I'd been back twice, running 20:19 in 2012 and 17:32 in 2013. 

My pacing plan this time was simple. I wrote down Jenn Shelton's 2007 splits for her 14:57. Of course, on trail the weather/ ground conditions could ultimately decide the outcome more than my ability so I wasn't about to hang on those splits if it was out of my hands. The day prior to the race however, some of the other Brits and I: Pete Goldring, Chris Mills and John Volanthen went for a couple of miles out on the course and it was in perfect shape. Smoking fast. The weather looked good. So my pacing plan was ON. 

0600 Saturday and we disappeared in to the darkness on loop 1. As usual a couple of guys went screaming off of the front. David Kilgore ran the first 2 loops in 2:19 and 2:20 respectively, pretty damn fast! (But then he was on the phone by mile 50....) That left a small train of 5 of us cruising along by the power of Petzl Tikka RXP (worlds' comfiest headlamp) until the light came up. my Centurion co-coach Ian Sharman, Liza Howard and I ran together from Damnation Aid Station through to the end of loop 1, #livingthedream. Ian was running well within himself and Liza was after the US women's trail 100 record and the cash from Altra, the time to beat,14:45. I booted a root at mile 19 and crashed on to the trail lifting my toe nail off in the process, but other than that it was smooth all the way. Together we dispatched the first 20 miles in 2:32 (Jenn Split: 2:40). RAIN DANCE!

There was no messing around this time. I didn't need anything to get around the course fueling wise, apart from my handheld UD bottle, some water and 20 Salted Caramel Gu's. At the end of each lap I had to divert 50 yards off course to my drop bag and grab 4 gels but by that time my bottle was refilled by a heroic volunteer and I was straight back out again. I managed to keep my total aid station time during the race to 8 minutes, and 5 of those were at the start finish. No crew required!

I ran with Liza for a lot of loop 2 and we cruised through the marathon mark in 3:20. Ian pulled away a little and made his own space and ran his own race as he likes to do. Loop 2/ 40 mile total time 5:11 (Jenn Split: 5:20). STEADY NOW!

At the start of Loop 3 it started getting noticeably warmer and I had that dry salty face starting to happen, so I starting popping S! Caps more regularly and drinking just under a litre per hour. It worked. Most of this lap I ran with Paul Terranova. I've never seen anyone float around the trails like that. It truly was effortless. We blew through 50 miles in 6:36 and back around to the start finish in great shape with the clock showing 8:00:05 (Jenn Split 8:13). 8hrs is 8:00 miling flat and I knew I would have to spectacularly collapse now to drop behind 15hr (9:00 mile) pace. This was the part I'd trained for, too. I wanted to run well to 60 and then concentrate on running as much as I could from 60 to the finish. Each mile run at this point was another one that I couldn't lose time on. Confidence just built and built through loop 4 and although I slowed, it was no more than I would naturally expect during miles 60 - 80 of a race. I came in off Loop 4/ 80 miles in 11:08 (Jenn Split: 11:20). BRING IT HOME!

On loop 5 I hooked up with Henrik Westerlin from Denmark. We'd to and fro'd through the day but now our races aligned and we pushed each other to run almost everything when on your own it's all too easy to drop in to a hike. At mile 87 it got dark and at mile 95, I finally started to fade. I'd put it all out there for the last couple of hours and physically I was walking that line between pulling a whitey and well, not. We reached mile 95.6 Park Road aid station in 14hrs dead. Henrik had 47 minutes to go under the Danish 100 mile trail best. I sent him on, hiked a half a mile and came good again. At mile 99.5 I passed Traviss in a lot of pain. He'd taken a fall on the roots and cracked his ribs, giving him trouble breathing. Like the pro he is, he simply dismissed my concerns and shouted 'DON'T WALK NOW!'. So I ran in a scant few minutes ahead of 9th place in a time of 14:50. I'LL TAKE IT!

Final Splits/ Stats/ Results

Ian ran out the winner in 13:32. He was visibly feeling bad on loop 3, started loop 5 a few minutes behind the leader, but by the end had a 26 minute margin of victory. A really classy performance.
Nicole Studer set a new US 100 mile Trail Best of 14:22. A couple of weeks after 2nd at Bandera 100km. 
Liza finished a little over 15:30, not her perfect day but a superb effort all the same. 
Of the Brits, Pete Goldring came in with 17:50, a big PB. Chris Mills finished his first 100 in 24:20 and John Volanthen made it in under the one day buckle cut for 4 from 5 finishes. Traviss' ribs took him out at mile 60 but with 30 odd 100 milers finished behind him, nothing further was required as proof of a smart decision. 

Exceptional organisation, a superb course and a great day running around in the woods. It's a big PB for me and one that I put a lot of hard work in to. From that point of view, a really satisfying few months of effort. 

Numbers/ Gear/ Stats

My aim in training and racing was to keep it as simple as possible. Trim out absoutely everything that was non-essential. 

Training:
- 12 weeks averaging 97mpw w/ 100,000ft of climb. That was 650 miles more than my '12-'13 training block for the 17:32. 
- 101 consecutive run days from October through to 48hrs before the race, replacing total rest days with easy 25 min/ 5km recovery runs. That really helped me make running through the winter a habit, rather than start cutting sessions due to weather, time or daylight.

Gear for the race:
- Centurion Team Vest, Salomon S-Lab Shorts, Drymax Lite Mesh Socks, La Sportiva Beanie Hat, Brooks Pure Cadence Road Shoe. 1 Stick Body Glide. Petzl Tikka RXP. 

Fueling for the race:
- 15 x S! Caps. 20 x Salted Caramel Gu. 1 x UD Handheld & water.

Winter 100 2014 Preview

Oct 12, 2014 (6 months, 2 weeks ago) | Posted by JamesElson | Tags: 2014

The penultimate race of our 2014 season is upon us, the 3rd edition of the Winter 100. With it's new home in the middle of October, the conditions this year should in theory favour faster times, however race day in 2013 was blessed with cold, sunny and crisp weather through the day allowing for some very quick early pacing from the leaders. That gave way to some monumental blow ups later on in the race! 

This year we have very strong fields in both the mens and womens races. Below is a quick preview of some of those, as always this is just an off the cuff and very brief insight with factual errors possible, even likely. Feel free to add comments to this and help us expand on the story.

Mens

Ed Catmur: 
Ed has taken home winners trophy's from the W100, NDW100 and TP100. He won this race in 2013, setting off at a blistering pace running a sub 3 first marathon, before later slowing and almost allowing a chasing Matt Winn Smith a glimpse of the lead. As Ed is wont to do however, he kep going and even pulled something back in the final few miles to come home in a time of 16:05. He's raced an incredible amount this year and has been first to admit thats' taken its toll on his results on occassion. Which Ed will we see next weekend?

Marco Consani:
This years Lakeland 100 winner, Marco has taken his running to a new level in the last couple of years recording some truly world class performances. Over 24hrs last year, he ran furthest of any GB runner clocking 248km at Tooting Bec. Earlier this year he ran 145km in 12hrs at Crawley and set a new course record on the Glasgow-Edinburgh Double Marathon in 6:19. An experienced international, you might argue the predominantly flat track of the winter 100 will suit him. Look out for Marco to be up front from very early on in the race.

Matt Winn Smith:
Matt took 2nd place to Ed in 2013, running 16:40 for 10 minute miling on the nose. Whilst he was pleased with his effort, the best thing was the closing pace he was able to produce, giving Ed an initial scare before the leader was able to dig again and find a little more to take it home. Matt was crowned Double Ironman World Champion this August and trains in all three disciplines to an incredible level. Look out for him to go faster than last year. 

David Ross:
Dave is an ever present on the UK marathon scene and has undoubtedly seen an improvement in his performances over the last 18 months across all distances. Able to knock out a 3hr marathon week in week out, he's also produced his 2 best comrades times of 10+ runs in the last 2 years, and set a massive 100 mile PB at the SDW100 earlier this summer running just under 16hrs. He literally only needs to finish the race to be under Mark Fox's Grand Slam record of 83:32, with 53:21 Dave's total time for 3 100s in 2014. An astoundingly consistent level of performance. Of course Dave will be most worried about fending off those behind him in the Grand Slam race this year, but he has an almost 4hr lead on second place Jeremy Isaac. Dave has also recently finished the Wasatch 100 in the US which will give him 5 100's in 2014. Dave's biggest enemy is his own pacing. He runs from the front and very hard indeed. For a long time that led to blow up after blow up, but this year something has changed and Dave has managed to hold on better towards the back end of events such that he really is in contention. 

Duncan Oakes:
Duncan won our NDW100 in August, just 2 weeks after placing in the top 10 at the Lakeland 100. In fact he has raced 4 100 milers since June including the SDW100 and the Cotswold Way Centuries - placing in the top 10 in all 4. As a result he may not be quite as fresh as some of the others but he proved at the NDW100 that he is able to compete irrespective. It will be fascinating to see what he can deliver here.

Ryan Brown:
Ryan hasn't raced much at all of late. Having won our inaugural SDW100 in 2012 in 17:04, he suffered an injury which left him on the sidelines for a long time. He recently turned in an Ironman PB however, well under 10hrs. He could be the dark horse here. Who knows what he might be able to put out on the day. 

Paul Radford:
Paul has picked up back to back 2nd places at the Ridgeway 85 in 13 and 14, running 15:30 and 14:14 this August. He is no stranger to this trail and can hold a terrific pace over the long stuff. Will local knowledge play in to his hands here....

Others to look out for: TP100 2nd place finisher (2013) and 2014 Viking Way Winner Luke Ashton. NDW100 3rd place finisher Jeremy Isaac. 2012 Caesars Camp 100 champ Warwick Gooch. 

Women

Debs Martin-Consani:
Debs' list of accolades grows with each passing year. She prepares meticulously each time she races and as such has some of the most consistent results of any female ultra-athlete in recent years. A member of the GB24hr team, Debs's best as a national team runner is 220km, but she showed that she can do it over shorter time frames too this year, after she ran 129km in 12hrs at Crawley in April (a British best). She then went on to win the Lakeland 100 this July. Previously Debs has also won the Thames Path 100 (2013) and perhaps most memorably the Grand Union Canal Run outright in 2012 with a women's course record of 28:01. As a Centurion Ultra Team Runner she will be looking to take home her second Centurion trophy and a third 'double win' for the Consani family in 2014 to boot. 

Sarah Morwood:
Sarah has had three particularly outstanding results this year, a win at both the Thames Path 100 and South Downs Way 100's, and an 11th female placing at UTMB in August. She's learning each time she runs the 100 mile distance and as such could make for an incredible race between herself and Debbie. Certainly Sharon Law's record could be in danger if both push the pace all day.

Wendy Shaw:
Wendy strung together some records that may not ever be broken at Centurion events. She placed on the podium at all 4 of our 100s in 2013, with 3 more top 5's before or since. After coming unstuck with just 4 miles to go at the NDW100 she will be hungry to avenge that and much like Dave, to finally break her run and take her first win.

 

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