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....
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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.