This weekends international races: Cavalls, UROC and Spartathlon
7 months, 3 weeks ago (Tuesday 17:53, Sep 25, 2012) by JamesElson
This weekend is a big one for what is relatively late in the ultrarunning season. In UTMB & Run Rabbit Run 100 both taking place early September, big clashes were held either side of the Atlantic signalling the end of some of the prestige events the elite athletes were training for. As the sport grows, however, so do the number of 'big name' events out there and the general entries at almost all existing races.
So this final weekend in September we have the Cavalls Del Vent in Spain, 84km of mountain trails, part of the skyrunning series and attracting some very big names from the US, Europe and our own Terry Conway from the UK. It'll be great to see what he can achieve there. Click here for irunfar's preview. In the US, it's the Ultra Race of Champions 100km (UROC) which has attracted a stellar field of runners including our own Centurion Coach Ian Sharman. Ian is fresh off of a superb win and a blazing fast time of 5:57 at TNF50 miler in Wisconsin a fortnight ago. This race should suit him with its mix of trail and road in equal measure so we're hoping and wishing him all the best for a stellar run out there. Click here for irunfar's preview.
The other major race happening this weekend is the Spartathlon. When I first started running ultras I watched a programme on the race which featured Peter Leslie Foxall, a British runner who just recently completed the South & North Downs Way 100s with us. It was 2005 or early 2006 and we were training for our first 'big' race, the Marathon Des Sables and I admit to mentioning to Jimmy my running partner at the time, that I couldn't ever see myself wanting to give something like that a go. Peter finished, he has run the race so many times I'm really not sure what his tally is, but it obviously had taken its toll on him and the other runners who crawled their way through Sparta and up to kiss the feet of Leonidas signalling the finish to the race.
It's not suprising that it looked brutal. Sparta is 153 miles of Greek road and incoporates a mountain pass at mile 100 which is needless to say, a major obstacle to overcome in its own right. I am not going to bleat on about the race, because this will be my first time there and I know so very little. Over the years the race grew on me a little and the idea started to form in my head that once I'd banked a few hard 100 milers I could perhaps consider taking on something as epic as this. Running Badwater in 2010 gave me the confidence to start planning for it and when UTMB ceased to exist in its true form a month ago, it paved the way for me to give it a go. James Adams has also been a huge part in me getting to this point and his race reports of 2009 and 2010 tell all that needs to be told about what is involved in finishing. By all accounts the major factor is the 36 hour cut off, especially in the heat of the Greek sun - temperatures look set for the low 30s celcius going in to race start at 7am Friday. There are some sterling cuts to meet on route too, 5k cut off is 30 minutes, the 10 mile cut is at 1hr35, the marathon cut is at 4:45 and the 50 mile cut is at 9:30. I'm kind of dreading the potential need to answer a call of nature soon after the start, it would be somewhat embarassing to DNF with 150 miles to go.....
The course record is just a little over 20 hours set by the mighty Greek Yiannis Kouros, undisputably the greatest ultrarunner of all time. Scott Jurek won the race 3 times too, although it's not clear if there will be any big names on the startline this year, beyond rumours that Lizzy Hawker will be toeing the line. That would be fantastic to say the least.
I admit to not feeling at my best going in to this monster. I feel pretty flat and without any zip in my legs, kind of like I did after running hard ultras throughout May/ June. The reality is though, in the words of King Leonidas at the start of the film '300' - This is Sparta. When we're stood on the startline with a journey of 250,000 steps ahead of us, feeling flat won't count for much. Staying relaxed, hopefully will!
The Statue of King Leonidas & the finishing place of the Spartathlon
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