The fourth edition of this now classic and highly popular end of season race kicks off this coming Saturday, 16th November at 0930.
We have perhaps the most competitive field yet assembled in both the mens and womens events. The mens course record of 7:16 is one of the highest performance index runs we have had at one of our events, from Stu Leaney the king of Wendover who also won the 100 mile here in July. He doesn't compete this time though. Amy Sarkies' womens record of 8:50 set here last year is also a stout one, just a second inside Sam Amends previous best but could be the more likely to go of the two.
The course has received a lot of rain recently and with an orienteering event this weekend just past, there are definitely some soggy patches but a dry forecast ahead and a very fast draining area should mean that things could yet be pretty optimal for fast running on the day.
52 runners are aiming to complete the Grand Slam here and as usual, we expect some of those finishes to go down to the wire! The table as it stands is available here.
Jon Ellis: Grand Slam 50 Record Holder which indluded 3 wins and a second place at this event in 7:49 which still ranks him 5th all time on this course.
Rob Payne: What a year this man has had. 1st at the NDW50, 2nd at the West Highland Way Race, 2nd at the NDW100 and a win at the recent Tooting Bec 24hr in a 251km total. Can he cap a phenomenal year with one more stellar result.
Rob Barnes: A man who can run fast over all surfaces and distances. His best results include a win at the Cape Wrath Ultra, 3rd at Dragons Back and a win at the Druids lats year, over the Ridgeway. In single stage stuff he has finished on the podium of the Ridgeway Challenge, 11th at Lakeland 100 and won the St Peters Way twice.
Neil Martin: Our 50 mile Grand Slam leader by a huge margin will be looking to finish his year with one more solid run out. He has finished 5th, 4th and 4th and also finished 4th at the Night 50km here in July. Can he podium for this final one?
Steve Hobbs: Steve has finished 7th here twice before. Podiums at the TP100 a few years back and the SDW50 this year as well as a second at the Thames Trot a couple of weeks ago indicate he could go better yet this weekend.
Jack Oates: Jack had some super results in 2017, winning the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 and the Stort 30 in a super time of 3:01. Since then he has been quiet from the looks of it with just a couple of finishes at short ultras, further down the order.
Daniel Weller: 8th at the SDW50 last year.
Will Frank: 3rd place at Marlborough downland challenge this year.
Sophie Grant: Exciting to have a runner of Sophie's calibre running with us here. Sophie's accolades are numerous and many of them at international level. She has 5 x UTMB finishes under her belt including a top ten there in 2016. She has 4 x Laveredo finishes including a top ten there too this year and one previously. She has represented GB on the trails and in 2018 was UK Skyrunning champion. This year so far she also has a 12th at MIUT and an 11th at the TDS to her name. Recently running a sub 1:30 half marathon for London qualification next year, she also has great speed on the flat stuff. The combination of the skills involved at this course will suit her.
Rachel Fawcett: One of the most consistent runners of the past couple of years. Rachel currently leads our 50 mile Grand Slam with a 4th at the SDW50, a 2nd at the NDW50 and a win at this years CW50. Amazingly, all of her times have been within a range of 7:47 to 7:59 elapsed. Last year Rachel finished 4th at all four of our 100 milers.
Charley Jennings: Second behind Rachel in the Grand Slam standings, Charley has finished 6th, 4th and 3rd at the 50s so far this year, also showing incredible consistency and pushing Rachel in the table.
Rachel Dench: Rachel has a string of top ten and podium performances over recent years. She finished 5th here back in the inagural edition but will surely go substantially faster this time. In a very consistent 2019 she has won the Essex 50 and Northants Shires and Spires, taken 4th at the Tahoe 100km and finished 7th at the TP100.
Rebecca Lane: Recently crowned this years Grand Slam 100 mile champion, she has had quite the year. She has raced here before and finished 7th so if she has a little energy left over from a monumental 2019 she can do well here also.
Rachel Lindley: 7th at this years SDW50 and 5th at this years NDW50.
Join us from 0930 on Saturday 16th November via the live page here, with updates from all 10 check points/ every 5 miles.
The format is 5 x 10 mile loops, returning each time to the field in which you will register on race morning. There is one other aid station at 5.5 miles in to each 10 mile loop. So effectively 9 aid stations and then the finish.
The point of this post is to give you an insight in to the course, the possible conditions and how to best prepare during these final few weeks to race day.
Many of you have recce'd the course so are by now familiar with the terrain and are well placed to think about the format and your race plan. Some of you cannot get to the course before race day and/or are new to this area and this format so this post is designed to give you some key pointers to think about in order to have your best day out on course.
Remember that whether you have recce'd or not, this course will be marked, re marked and checked constantly throughout the race with the intention that navigation never be an issue for you on course. Nevertheless you must concentrate throughout the race because of the number of turns/ markings you will see. It will be very easy to wander past a marking or a turn if you are in a daydream.
The Gruffalo Resides in the Woods at Mile 1.
Laps are not to everyones liking, but if you are running the race then you have signed up for a race including 5 x 10 mile loops so we are taking it for a given that you either like a looped format, or giving it a go for the first time to see!
The benefits of laps are: Familiarity with the course during the later loops. Sharing the trail later in the race with runners at differing ends of the speed spectrum. A natural break down of the race in to smaller chunks than 50 miles point to point offers. Regular access to both our aid stations and your own provisions (you may access your drop bag each 10 miles).
Some potential challenges of laps are: Repetition of the course. Sharing the trail with faster runners who come past looking as though they are out for a 5km. A natural break down of the course in to the perfect point to quit every 10 miles. Regular access to aid stations and your own provisions where you may be inclined to waste time.
Think about the positives, not the challenges.
The course is tough. No doubt. It contains specific challenges - but these things are relative. Despite some runners returning from recces with reports of experiencing 'unrunnable bushwhacking', 100% of this course is on legitimate trail, some of it is just a bit more challenging that you get on a National Trail.
Last year the winners came home in an average of 9 min miling. If it were unrunnable bushwhacking, those kind of times would simply not be possible.
The course is characterised by a variety of different trail formats.
About a third of the course is wide open groomed trail or dirt road. Descents tend to allow for some very quick running. Ascents on these can be steep but some are runnable.
A Smooth Runnable Trail Descent in Wendover Woods
About a third of the course is on narrower trail/ single or double track which if dry makes for good running downhill, and will yield quickly to a good efficient hiking technique uphill. If muddy and wet some of these sections will become tougher going particularly later in the race with the passing of many feet before.
An Uphill Section of Trail Towards the End of the WW50 Loop
The final third of the course is a mixture of challenges which are the signature of this course. We wanted to include features that you can reflect on and try to explain to your mates post race about just how epic they are. There are five climbs on the course that in anyones book are very steep and probably unrunnable for all but a few at the sharp end of the race. The bonus is that these steep climbs are short. In reality the longest they will last is just a few minutes each. BE PATIENT, go easy, hike away. The top will come. Some have some small sections of stairs, you may even need to use a few trees as resting posts along the way. That's ok. From the top you get a nice runnable descent on the other side - of every single one. There are two descents which are narrow and rutted and require a steady footing, one down in to a field we have dubbed Power Line and one down a section of what is actually the Ridgeway National Trail which resembles somewhat a ditch and is challenging because it is filled with loose branches and stones. These sections last no more than a couple of minutes.
The Snake - A Steep but Wide Climb in the Second Half of the Loop
A Steep Section of Single Track At The End of the Loop
Gnarking Around - One of the Steepest Sections on the Course.
COME PREPARED WITH....
You need not fear the race or the route. Rather come armed with:
- Patience. A sensible pacing plan early on will reap huge benefits later as you find yourself trotting past runners who went out too hard, on very straight forward runnable sections. We expect a large number of runners to stop after 3, 2 or even just 1 loop. The excuses will as usual run the full range. Most of those who stop will simply be beaten psychologically. Probably having gone too quickly. Don't come to us and complain that the course was too tough to finish. You have 15 hours to get this done should you require them. MUCH OF THE COURSE IS GOOD RUNNING which means that even if you take a large amount of time to make your way up the few very steep (and short) climbs - as long as you keep moving, focus on an even effort and don't waste time in check points, there is an extremely good chance you will finish.
- A good hiking technique. Practice during training. 10000ft of climb is not excessive in the world of MUT Running. Relatively, UTMB has the equivalent of 16500ft of climbing per 50 miles for example. However it is substantial and requires runners to be efficient in switching between running and hiking. If you want to bring poles, bring poles.
- Condition your quads. Descents, even shallow ones offering relatively good running, turn to painful plods later on if you race the early downhill miles and damage your quads.
- Time Targets. We've set a 15 hour cut off at this race, rather than the usual 13 hours we allow at our other 50 mile events. The reason for this is that the course is tougher than the other three mainly in that it contains more climb and will therefore be slower going. We have a large number of 50 mile Slammers starting this final event and we want to give each of you but especially those runners every opportunity to finish this final race. Not to be beaten by a tight time target. The fact that we have added two hours to the overall cut off should tell you something about how difficult we rate the course vs the other three 50 mile events we stage. Plan for that.
- Footwear: The Age Old Question, what shoes should I wear? A decent trail shoe with good grip is advised. If it's very muddy, in some places it won't matter what you've got on because you will be slipping around whatever the case. BUT if you wear something with good grip you stand a much better chance of making good time and preventing slipping and sliding around on the vast swathes of the course which will be good going no matter what the weather.
Relax, Enjoy, You Got This.
The fifth and final 100 of our 2019 season sees 250 runners toe the line as usual, with a raft of different goals.
34 are hoping to finish their fourth 100 of the year and complete the Grand Slam. Of those, particular mention goes to John Melbourne. John needs to run 20:21:09 or better to take the new mens record from last years champion Peter Windross. In the womens standings, Karen Doak leads Rebecca Lane by just 8 minutes coming into this final race.
Here is a quick preview of the leading runners coming in to this weekend.
Laura Swanton: 2018 winner here in 18:27 as she capped off her Grand Slam record setting year, Laura also finished on the podium at all of our other 100s in 2018. She started 2019 with a win at the Arc of Attrition 100 before winning Devon Coast to Coast. She has recently run long, at the end of last month she ran Tooting 24 hour and looks to have made just over 100 miles.
Laura with her first Centurion trophy after winning this event in 2018
Amy Sarkies: Amy set a new Wendover Woods 50 mile record at the end of the 2018 season, racing home just a second inside Sam Amends existing mark. That followed an excellent third place at Lakeland 50. This year she opened her account with a second place at the SDW50 in 7:22. It looks to be her first 100.
Amy set a new course record at last years Wendover Woods 50
Edwina Sutton: Centurion Ultra Team runner Eddie has an ultra career spanning back to 2011 with many notable wins and records to her name. Earlier in her racing days she set the SDW50 course record which was only betttered this year for the first time. She has amongst other things also taken home the crown at the Chiltern Wonderland 50 and finished 2nd in the British 100km champs. This year to date she has picked up a win at the Devils Challenge multi-day over the South Downs Way, but dropped out of the SDW100 in June with a foot injury. She has been working her way back to fitness and therefore has a primary focus on finishing what will be her first 100, as she returns to full strength.
Eddie running to victory at the CW50 in 2016.
Samantha Lloyd: Samantha took 3rd at this years SDW100 and has previously finished in the top ten at Wendover Woods 50, SDW50, NDW50 twice and was 5th at last months CW50.
Catherine Stoneman: Catherine has a 2nd at the Pilgrims Challenge and a win at the Serpent Trail 100km to her name so far in 2019.
John Melbourne: John as mentioned already leads the Grand Slam standings this year. He has run under 15 hours twice so far in 2019, at both the TP100 and the SDW100, finishing second in both. The NDW100 was a tougher day out but he got it done and will certainly want to finish an incredible year well at this race.
John Melbourne at this years NDW100
Geoff Cheshire: Geoff ran out front of this years SDW100 until deep into the race, where issues compounded to force him to drop at the final check point with 4 miles to go. It was a charging John Melbourne who passed him just before that point. Geoff has previously taken home victory at the Chiltern Wonderland 50 and race to the stones. He has a great deal of ability and if he has a good day here will go fast.
Geoff winning the CW50 at this very location in 2018
Henrik Westerlin: Henrik has some impressive accolades to his name. In 2014, he ran a then Danish 100 mile record of 14:42 at Rocky Raccoon 100, having shared the trail with this author for the final loop and running off to beat him by 8 minutes at the end :) He has represented Denmark on the Trails and at the 24hr format and finished 5th at Spartathlon. In 2019 so far he's had a 15th at the competitive Ultra Trail Mount Fuji and solid finishes in half a dozen other ultras. It will be great to see him racing here in the UK.
Ian Hammett: We had Ian down as a DNS as two weeks ago he ran a superb 7th at this years Spartathlon. The winner of this years TP100 has decided to toe the line here too so it will be fascinating to see how quickly he can bounce back from another long effort.
Peter Kaminsky: Peter was our SDW100 champion in 2015, a year when he also ran this event and came home in 5th place in a time of 16:29. In a short space of time he ran 100 ultras and had wins at various different distances on the way. He then took a couple of years off before last year racing a dozen ultras again in 2018 though not to quite the same standard as before.
Stephen Marks: Earlier in the year, Stephen finished just behind Geoff at the 43 mile country to capital, in third place. His pace on the flat is excellent and with the experience of going long, having run Lakeland 100 in the pairs division with running partner Dean Oldfield for each of the last five years if he can put both things together here he could run a blazing fast race.
Paul Russhard: Paul had a superb run for 2nd at this years NDW50 where he finished just over 7 hours. Earlier in the year he won the Pilgrims Challenge on the same trail. In 2018, he was 2nd at the NDW100 having led much of the way before a hard charging Matt Dickinson ran though late on for the win. In 2017, he finished in the top 5 at the first three 50s of the year. He has lots of fine performances behind him and if he comes in with his race face on he will push the front.
Alistair Palmer: Alistair finished 5th at the CW50 last month and that followed a win earlier this year at the Testway 50. Last year he ran home 2nd at the SDW50 and took 5th at the SDW100 in a solid 16:35.
There are at least five other guys in the field with the potnetial to run well inside the top ten, so we are looking forward to a really exciting race.
Follow it live from 0900 Saturday via the Live Timings Page here, and via our social media channels.
The fourth edition of the Chiltern Wonderland 50 and the third 50 miler of our season takes place this coming Saturday 14th September.
Of an anticipated starting field of 250, we have a huge 61 runners looking to complete race three out of four in their Grand Slam journeys. The full table is here listing runners in order of total cumulative time for the first two events.
Ali Young: Ali comes into this race on route to yet another Team GB 24 hour race this coming October in Albi, France. Ali has been performing at the highest level in ultras over the past seven years as well as having an incredibly consistent road and shorter distance running career. Ultra wise her top results have included a win at GUCR earlier this year, 2nd place at Tooting Bec 24hr where she ran a 100 mile PB of 16:29 and a 10th place at Spartathlon. But over shorter distances she has also won events such as Country to Capital and has a marathon PB of 3:01 which she has run numerous times.
Rachel Fawcett: Rachel is a past winner here having pipped Charley (featured below), by just 1 second in 2017. Since then she has gone on to finish 4th in all of our 2018 100 milers as well as the SDW50 earlier this year, before finally stepping back on to the podium at this years NDW50 with a 2nd place in a solid 7:52. This years two runs put her at the top of the Grand Slam table and significantly ahead of record splits, currently held by Charley, below. Second behind her in this years Grand Slam table, 57 minutes back, is.... also Charley!
Rachel Fawcett on route to 2nd at this years NDW50
Charley Jennings: Charley has a string of fine results behind her particularly in the 50 mile format. As mentioned above, she holds the Grand Slam 50 record and this year stands second in the table with a 6th and a 4th at the two races so far. In 2017 she took second here behind Rachel and also took third at the NDW50 that year.
Amelia Watts: Amelia has been racing ultras since 2013 over a variety of distances and terrain types. Stand out results include a win at this years Classic Quarter, 5th at the 2018 Mozart 100km, 15th at Transgrancanaria (2017) 2nd at the SDW50 (2016) and a 5th at the MDS.
Annabelle Stearns: Annabelle ran Western States this year breaking the magic 24 hour mark. But has been dealing with an injury since so may not be ready to go for this one. Previously she has a score of excellent results over many years behind her. Wins at the NDW50, Druids Challenge and London to Brighton (trail) have been intespersed with second places at SDW50, SDW100, NDW50 and NDW100.
Samantha Lloyd: Samantha took 3rd at this years SDW100 and has previously finished in the top ten at Wendover Woods 50, SDW50 and NDW50 twice.
Emily Dixon: Emily finished 8th at the competitive Mozart 100km this year, a UTWT event.
Mark Innocenti: Mark ran home 2nd at this years SDW50. Previous to that he has taken the win at Race to the King and the Stort 30. With a podium at the NDW50 in 2017.
Mark in action at the North Downs Way 50
Rahil Sachak-Patwa: Our recent Wendover Woods Night 50km winner, Rahil ran away from the field there at mile 7 and never looked back. He is new to ultras with what looks to be only four under his belt but he has run well in all. A 7th at last years Autumn 100 and a 3rd at Country to Capital figure among them.
Neil Martin: Neil leads our 2019 Grand Slam 50 rankings with a 5th and a 4th so far. He has also won the Arc 50 and finished 5th at the Wendover Night 50km in what is turning out to be a really fine year for him.
Alistair Palmer: Already has wins this year at the 50 mile distance, twice at Winchcombe Cross and the Testway Ultra. Last year he was 5th at the SDW100 in a solid 16:35 and was 2nd at the SDW50 under seven hours.
Neil Kirby: Neil exploded on the scene in 2016, picking up wins at both 50s and both 100s on the downs. Since then he has struggled to get back to fitness and each time we preview him it seems to curse him and lead to a drop, but we are more hopeful than ever that this will be the return to glory.
Neil Kirby after winning the SDW100
Ed Knudsen: Ed had a strong 2018 with 4th at the Ridgeway, 2nd at the NDW50 and a win at the Marlborough Downland Challenge. This year so far he has taken home the win at the Imber ultra and ran 6th at the NDW50.
As always you can follow the race live on race day this coming Saturday 14th September, from every check point via the link here.
As we look ahead to our inaugural Track 100 Mile this weekend we do so hot off of the back of a new 100 mile mens world record from Zach Bitter at Six Days in the Dome in Alaska less than 10 days ago. He lowered the world mark to 11:19:13. It goes to show that through many years of perseverance and experience, it is possible to hone in on and improve upon outstanding marks. We hope that this will remain a fixture in the calendar for many years to come and allow the best of British and International runners to have a run at British and World Record marks.
The all Time GB 100 mile records can be found here.
This year we welcome a field of 8 to the start line, 6 men and 2 women. All with high hopes of running big performances and the set up of this race is designed to provide them exactly that.
Race start is 0600 Saturday 7th September, with a 17 hour cut off in place. You can join us live on the day via the live link here which will give lap by lap splits for all runners. Follow our twitter feed and insta page for further content across the day.
Runner: Thomas Payn
Qualifier: 100km, Marathon.
Details: 2009 Fukuoka Marathon: 2:17:29. 2013 Self Transcendence 100km: 7:25:34. A further 10+ Marathon Qualifiers.
Bio: Tom's career as a road runner is an impressive one. It's hard to know which of his PBs is the most impressive. But he has done it at all distances. 800m - 1:52. 1500 - 3:50. 5km - 14:13. 10km - 29:46. 10 mile - 49:49. Half - 64:55. His marathon at 2:17 put him in the top handful of runners in the UK. But his consistency is perhaps even more impressive than this pinnacle as he has year after year gone after fast times and achieved them. He broke 2:30 and often 2:20 almost every year between turning to marathons and moving up to ultras in 2013. He ran 2:26 as recently as last year. His 100km of 7:25 is just one of a number of ultras under his resume. He has represented GB on the trails. More recently he has turned his hand to some tougher mountain races and looks to have had much lesser results in that area as he has perhaps yet to hone is craft there. This is far more in his wheelhouse and it will be fascinating to see how someone with as much raw speed as Tom can turn his hand to the distance on the track.
Runner: Matt Dickinson
Details: 2018 Valencia Marathon: 2:29:23
Bio: Matt cracked the 2:30 barrier at Valencia Marathon last year, which followed his win at the 2018 NDW100 on this very track. A race in which he exercised a lot of patience early on and ran super strong over the final 15 miles having taken the lead with that distance left to run. He's shown he has both the speed, endurance and combination of a smart head to have a great race here, though this is a step into the unknown.
Matt Dickinson took the win on this track at the end of his 2018 NDW100 debut 100 miler
Runner: Rob Isolda
Qualifier: 100km, 6hr.
Details: 2019 6 Ore del Parco Nord: 79.252km. 2018 100km di Seregno della Brianza: 7:15:02.
Bio: Rob ran a 7:15 100km in Italy last year and he has followed that up with a solid 6hr already in 2019. His resume includes the full spectrum of different terrains and conditions as he has raced everything from UTMB to 24hr track.
Runner: Andy Jordan
Qualifier: 100 mile, 12hr.
Details: 2016 Tooting Bec 24hr 100 mile split: 15:29:45. 2017 Barcelona 24hr (12hr split): 131.684km.
Bio: Andy has raced lots of track events in recent years, mainly over the 24hr distance and indeed both of his qualifiers were interim splits in 24hr events. He has gone on to 2 solid 24hr runs in the low 220km range following those initial faster eariler splits, which strongly suggest this distance could suit him well. So far in 2019 it looks like he has raced just once with 71km and 2nd place at the Crawley 6hr.
Runner: Mark Bissell
Details: 2018 Crawley 12hr: 133.753km.
Bio: Mark had a solid 2018 where is 12hr qualifier was run, on his way to 2nd place at Crawley 12hr. He has a number of 24hr performances behind him with a best of 217km. He is clearly a fan of the track format, looking to combine his experience across 6, 12 and 24hr hour here.
Runner: Ry Webb
Details: 2019 Dorney Lake 6 hour - 80.145km
Bio: Ry comes in off of the back of a qualifier just recently at Dorney Lake 6hr where he cracked the 50 mile barrier. He ran a solid 24 hour last December in Barcelona finishing on 216km which will stand him in good stead experience wise for this, with that race also taking place on the track. Other solid results from him have been mainly on the trail with 2nd at the SDW50 in 2017 before taking 3rd at each of the remaining 50 mile races in our Centurion Grand Slam of 50s. 5th at the 2016 NDW100 in 18:31 is his best trail 100 result.
Ry finishes third at the 2017 NDW50
Runner: Debbie Martin-Consani
Qualifier: 24hr, 100 mile, 12hr.
Details: 2015 World 24hr Champs Turin: 221.714km. 2014 Crawley 12hr: 129.171km. 2012 World 24hr Champs 100 mile Split: 15:48:18. 3+ Further 24hr.
Bio: Debbie is the most qualifier runner over long distances in either the mens or womens field. She represented GB in the 24hr format five times, with a PB of 221km from Turin in 2015. She still holds the Scottish 100 mile womens record of 15:48 set on route to one of her 24hr finishes. On the trails she has won numerous events over the 100 mile (and greater) distance with the SDW100, NDW100, TP100 (x2) Lakeland 100 and Grand Union (overall win) amongst the key ones. Her course record at the NDW100 still stands where you finished on this very track and she is already off to a great start in 2019 with a win at the TP100. Having recently improved her Marathon PB she has greater speed coming into this and it will be great to see her achieve what is possible here.
Debs running to another Centurion 100 mile victory in 2016 at the NDW100
Runner: Jess Gray
Qualifier: 100 mile, 50km.
Details: Autumn 100 2016: 16:42:12. 2014 Royal Parks Ultra 50km: 3:37:14.
Bio: Jess has had excellent results in the past few years with wins at the Ridgeway 86 (Course Record at the time), SDW50 and perhaps most impressively a second place at the Autumn 100 with a time of 16:42 which puts her on the all time list. This will be a new challenge for her in what looks to be her first lapped/ track event.
Jess at the conclusion of her victory at the SDW50
This is the ninth edition of the North Downs Way 100 and our biggest ever field is set to give this tough 100 their best.
In terms of the front runners, we have one notable absentee. After struggling through much of Wendover Woods 100 with injury, Ian Hammett has unfortunately had to abort his Grand Slam attempt for this year. Second in the standings behind John Melbourne and well under overall record splits it is a real shame and leaves John to try to carry the effort forward to a new Slam overall record.
John Melbourne - Two sub 15 hour 100s already this year and two second place finishes at the TP100 and SDW100, the latter by under 2 minutes. He has taken things to a new level this year and he will want to continue that run, but also be itching for that first win too.
Rob Payne - A superb year for Rob so far, with a win at the NDW50 in May and then a second place at the West Highland Way Race in June. These follow a string of podiums, top tens and a handful of wins at various ultras in 2018 including Dukeries 40, Hardwolds 80 and Country to Capital.
Rich Riopel - A star on the US scene this looks to be Rich's first UK race. This year he has already run some world class performances on road and trail. A 260km distance and win at the Dusk to Dawn 24hr ultra, second at the Old Dominion 100 in June and at least four other wins at various shorter distances all since January. He is a member of the US 24hr team and has plenty of experience with the 100 mile distance, with what looks to be a 15:14 PB from Desert Solstice (100 mile split) a few years back.
Barry Miller - Barry is a vastly experienced ultrarunner and particularly at the longer stuff. He cut his teeth with some shorter ultras before moving to our Grand Slam and then the following year, he completed the US Grand Slam. He has since gone on to finish classics such as Spartathlon and GUCR with some superb results along the way including second at GUCR and a win at the Viking Way. He can certainly do something special here if he is in good shape.
Ed Catmur - Still the course record holder with his mighty 15:44 back in 2013. Ed still hasn't fully returned to the rich vein of form of those days but is increasingly returning to fitness and was briefly in the top three at the TP100 earlier this year. The fire still burns!!!
Ed Catmur gliding to a course record in 2013, which still stands today
Ed Knudsen - Ed came within a whisker of winning the NDW50 last year, eventually missing out to Stuart Leaney by just a few minutes. He has been 9th at the SDW100, 4th at the Ridgeway Challenge and this year was disappointed to finish 6th at the NDW50. He knows the trail and can go long too.
Alfie Pearce Higgins - Alfie had a great 2018 with 4th at Mt Gaoligong 100 in China and 5th at Oman by UTMB - two tough 80-100 milers. Previously second at Ultra trail Gobi to boot, Alfie can also do it on the UK trails with top 10 finishes at SDW50 and SDW100 over the years.
Mark Shannon & Kevin Shannon - There are three Shannon brothers running this race and they are all quick! Mark and Kevin often run together and the two were 3rd and 4th at last months Wendover Woods 50km and recently ran a strong Bob Graham Round. In 2013 the two ran together at this event and finished 12th and 13th in a respectable 20:34.
Mark Darbyshire - Mark has shown his pace over shorter and/ or more mountainous routes than this but this looks to be his first 100. He was an impressive 39th at Transvulcania this year and has previously run home winner of the Brecon to Cardiff Ultraand finished second at the Beacons Ultra.
Susie Chesher - Susie holds the record as our fastest ever female 100 miler. Her 15:22 at the 2016 Autumn 100 is 49 minutes better than the next closest time. She's won events at a mix of distances over the years, mostly on UK trails and whilst she had a dnf at the Fling in April we hope she will be back on top form for this one.
Susie on her way to a massive record at the 2016 A100
Rebecca Lane - Rebecca has finished 5th at the TP100 and 4th at the SDW100 already this season and is on her way to a Grand Slam title, leading the way in the womens overall positions by a big margin. With the field looking less deep here she will certainly be one to watch as her consistency is superb. Her TP and SDW times were just 2 minutes different from one another.
Karen Hacker - Karen finished second at last years Wendover Woods 50 and took home third at the Race to the King in 2017.
Lindsay Hamilton - Lindsay has a string of podium finishes to her name at shorter ultras but this looks to be her first 100. She has finished in the top three at Gritstone Grind, Norfolk 100km and the Jurrassic Quarter over the last year.
Karen Doak - Karen lies second in the Grand Slam table with 2 x Sub 24hr runs under her belt, 22:44 good enough for 8th at the TP100.
Follow the race live via the link here, updates begin at Newlands Corner mile 14, race start is 0600 Saturday 3rd August.
Starting at 0800 this Friday, a hardy band of pioneers will embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity to go down in history. To become legends. In their attempt to complete 100 miles of woodland hills and trails in the unique and wonderful Wendover Woods.
With 20,000ft of climb and descent, a 32 hour time limit and 10 laps in front of them, this will be a tough race to finish. We anticipate our average finish rate at 100 milers of 65% across the past 9 years, to drop below 50% this time. But that will simply make the achievement of finishing that much greater.
The weather looks warm, possibly wet at times, but the trails are currently in peak condition - fast, groomed and ready for some stellar performances.
For a small starting field, the race has attracted some top runners to race and it will be a true test of their mettle to see who can not only survive the course but to race it too.
Leading contenders are as follows.
Stuart Leaney: The king of Wendover Woods 50. Stuart won the last two editions of that race both in course record times. On route to a 7:16 winning time in 2018, his second lap was a blistering 1:21, the fastest lap we have seen around that course by over 30 seconds per mile. He's been focused on this one and comes into it off an NDW50 (a race he won in 2018 also) which was not his best effort but came at the end of a big training week. It is however, his first 100 miler. Can the king double the distance and perform at the same level.
Stuart Leaney striding to victory at WW50 in 2017
Ian Hammett: This years TP100 champion, Ian also finished third at the SDW100 last month. He is running all five of our 100s this year, and looking at adding Spartathlon in to boot. Is he recovered? If he is he can add yet another crown to his roster.
Warwick Gooch: The previous Grand Slam record holder is back to run a 10 x 10 mile loop tough 100. The last time he did, he walked off with victory at Caesars Camp 100 before that race ceased to be held. How well he did that day will still be a fond memory for him and certainly he knows how to execute the tough races well.
Nick Greene: Nick has become one of the more experienced runners on the scene in recent years and has run consistently at a high level for a number of years. His best results have been a second at the TP100 and a 4th at the NDW50. He has finished the SDW50 seven times, all of them in the top 10 mens positions including this year. He knows the course like the back of his hand as a regular marker for us here. It will be great to see him go long.
Just seven women line up to take on the 100. So we'll preview all of them!
Mari Mauland: Mari was our 2017 Grand Slam of 100s champion, winning three of the races in the process. She went on to finish second at last years NDW100. In 2019 she has already finished second at a 24hr event in Finland, clocking a 17:14 100 miler on route.
Mari taking top honours at the 2017 NDW100
Anna Troup: Anna has a range of super results behind her. In 2019 she has already finished second at the Arc of Attrition 100 and first at the Oner. In the past she also has podiums at the Thames Trot (1st), Ultra Trail Snowdonia 50 (2nd) and CTS Sussex (2nd). She is also a previous finisher of UTMB.
Alexandra Duesbury: Alexandra has twice finished the Wendover Woods 50 and loves it enough to consider the ten lap version. This won't be her first 100 having finished the Autumn 100 just last October.
Zoe Norman: Zoe volunteers at almost all of our events, certainly the ones she isn't running. She's finished almost all of our events in the past, including last year running the 50 mile Grand Slam.
Tracey Watson: Tracey holds some incredible records with us. She has finished 29 Centurion events to date and has finished the double slam each of the last three years in a row.
Mel Horley: Mel is running the 2019 100 mile Grand Slam and wanted to add the other 100 to make it a full house of five with us this year. Last year she finished the 50 mile slam and was consistent all year. Her best result to date was a 22:59 for fifth at the TP100 in 2017.
Sheila Rose: Sheila finished our 100 mile Grand Slam last year and has a couple of other 100s to her name, both at Robin Hood 100 in Nottinghamshire, amongst many other ultras at a range of distances.
Starting 15 hours after the 100 mile has begun, at 2300 on Friday evening, a group of night owls will begin their first of 3 laps around the Wendover route. They need to be done by 0830 on Saturday morning to make the cut off. This is a new format and a new distance for us, but it has attracted a lot of familiar names.
Dan Lawson: The Centurion Ultra Team runner, Dan is the co-host of the best podcast available anywhere, See link here for further details. He also happens to be one of the most decorated ultra runners of our generation and arguably the best long distance runner we have seen in the UK for a long time. His accolades are too long to mention but top of the pops include being European 24hr Champion. Course Record holder at GUCR, The Ridgeway, RAT - The Plague, Ultrabalaton, Ultra Trail Gobi, Steenbergen 12hr, Downslink - the list goes on. He has also been 2nd at Spartathlon and 3rd at Badwater. In 2019 he has already set a British 6 day road record, with 920km. Yes this is just a training run for him but Dan will still want a win on route to his main focus this year, the World 24hr champs.
Dan in action on route to 2nd at Spartathlon. Photo c/o Shooting Therapy
Neil Martin: Neil is one of the rare few who has actually beaten Dan at an event, when he took home first to Dans second at the Arc of Attrition 50 this past February. But the author of this post may be accused of having slowed Dan down a little in the first half. Neil is running the 50 mile slam this year and is off to a tremendous start, leading the rankings by a large margin after the first two, solid top ten finishes.
Paul Russhard: Paul stepped up his game recently with a superb run at this years NDW50 for 2nd. He is fast over shorter stuff and likes the hills so this will suit him. I think we will see him go out hard here.
Tomasso Migliulo: Tomasso took home a strong third at the Wendover Woods 50 last November. He has also podiumed at the SDW50 and the Eiger Ultra Trail 85km. With top ten finishes at the V3k and Lakes Sky ultra this is flatter than he is used to and that could play in his favour.
Paul Radford: Paul is local to the area and has some great results in recent years and some more echoing back further. Most notably he ran 224km at Barcelona 24hr in December last year. He's also won the Wendover Challenge with 67k in 6 hours around a flatter route in the woods. Lots of top ten finishes at other events preceed those including a best of 2nd place (twice) at the Ridgeway Challenge including 2018.
Kevin Shannon: 6th at the WW50 last November followed a strong 32 hour UTMB in 2016.
Mark Shannon: 11th at WW50 last November, finished UTMB alongside Kevin above in 2016.
Christine Howard: Christine has had a lot of strong performances at a range of different ultras spanning back 7 years but last year was her strongest. Her best results from 2018 included podium finishes at the SDW50 and Chiltern Wonderland 50 in alongisde a win at the SVP100km.
Melanie Frazier: Melanie picked up third at the SDW50 in 2017 and has also finished on the podium at Salisbury 50km and the Mendip Marauder 50.
Christine on route to 2nd at the 2018 Chiltern Wonderland 50
The eighth edition of what will be our largest ever 100 mile starting field is nearly upon us. The South Downs Way 100 is a classic route, featuring enough climb and descent to keep things interesting, stunning vistas over the surrounding countryside and coast, as well as some superb fast running. The course changes very slightly this year with a new start in Matterley Bowl which should afford a spectacular start for our 375 runners.
The course records have stood for years. Jean Beaumont’s 16:56 from 2013 and Mark Perkins’ 14:03 from 2014 have seemed untouchable. Can anyone get close or potentially go under, this year?
Marcus Scotney: Marcus is a previous GB Trail and 100km team member and has competed at the highest level in the UK. His list of wins is impressive. The Dragons Back, Spine Challenger, Cape Wrath Ultra. 6:56 for 100km at Winschoten in 2016 puts him as one of the fastest runners we’ve had toe a starting line. He’s been competitive in the mountains, over rough terrain and on flat road. His credentials suggest he could do something spectacular here.
Paul Maskell: Paul won our 2017 Autumn 100 in 14:34 and has subsequently gone on to qualify for the British 24hr team with a superb 247km at Tooting Bec last September. He is a two time winner of the Arc of Attrition and 2018 GUCR champion. It is great to see him running here in his tune up to this years 24hr World Championships in Albi in October.
Ian Hammett: Our 2019 Thames Path 100 winner in a blazing fast 14:36. Lining up for race two in his Grand Slam attempt, Ian is on great form in 2019 having also banked a marathon PB. He’s had plenty of top results over recent years but seems to have lifted things to that next level for 2019.
John Melbourne: Ran Ian hard at the Thames Path 100, closing all the way to mile 85 before fading just in the very final stages but still recording a superb 14:58. He ran a superb third here last year in 15:56.
Jon Ellis: Jon is our Grand Slam 50 mile record holder, in a 2017 season where he won the SDW50, NDW50 and CW50 before missing out narrowly in the final race of the year to finish second at the WW50. He still holds the course records at the NDW50 and CW50. More recently he has run himself onto the podium at the Highland Fling and tried his hand at international races. He ran this race as his first 100 last year and struggled in the final stages but hung tough to finish 4th in 16:16. He knows if he gets this right, he can run something spectacular and his training has gone well. Fingers crossed we get to see some fireworks.
Geoff Cheshire: Geoff has been one of the most consistent high level performers in the last couple of years on the circuit in the South East. He was Race to the Stones winner, before coming to our events and running home the 2018 winner of the Chiltern Wonderland. He started 2019 finishing 2nd at Country to Capital, 44 miles in a hair under 5 hours and is certainly ready for this, his first 100. As part of our regular course marking team at all our events, he has also had the chance to recce much of the route.
Peter Cromie: Peter has already won the Dublin to Belfast Ultra this year, 173km in 17:44, a race he also won last year in a blazing 16:16. In 2018 he ran 10th at Bigs Backyard, ammassing 254km in the process. He has won the Mourne Way ultra numerous times and finished second at the Grand To Grand Multi Stage race in 2017.
Jack Galloway: Jack won the 2017 South Wales 100. He was second at the Snowdonia Quarter in 2018 and has so far recorded a 2:35 marathon in 2019.
Jonathan Palmer: This looks like Jonathan's first 100, but in the past few years he has finished 8th at the V3K, 5th at the Lakes Sky Ultra and earlier this year won the Chester Ultra, 50 miles in 6:33.
David L'Anson: In 2018 David was second at both the Thames Trot and the Oner.
Sarah Morwood: Two time winner of this event, in 2014 prior to a major bike accident, and then in 2017 bettering her time from 3 years previous. Between 2017 and 2018, Sarah went on to represent GB on the trails. Her record is too extensive to list here - she has won literally dozens of events and she will be looking for her 8th Centurion trophy to date. Late last year she was involved in a major car crash and spent the first part of the year in intensive rehab with no running. Just last month she returned to racing with an excellent win at the Tuscany Crossing 100km. If she is able to run close to her 2014 and 2017 performances it will signal another incredible return from traumatic injury and speaks to Sarahs incredible resilience as an athlete and person.
Edwina Sutton: Eddie has been a long time member of our Centurion Ultra Team and one of our coaches at Centurion. She had a glittering career in Iron distance triathlon before turning to the trails. In 2014 she ran home the winner of the South Downs Way 50, and went on to various other top performances at Uk Ultras between 50km and 50 miles. In 2016 she represented England at the ACP100km and finished 2nd, later that year she went on to win the Chiltern Wonderland 50. More recently she has turned to multi day running and recently won the XNRG event along this very trail. This will be her first 100 mile race and it’s going to be really exciting to see what she can deliver.
Ingrid Lid: Our 2018 NDW100 Champion, Ingrid ran home 2nd at the Thames Path 100 last month. She had a close fought race with eventual winner Debbie Martin-Consani but started her Grand Slam attempt in excellent fashion.
Sarah Hill: Sarah's results look solid and consistent amongst some good sized starting fields. Amongst many top ten finishes she has wins at Race to the Stones, the Pilgrims Challenge, Round the Island (twice) the Fox Ultra and the Druid Ridgeway Challenge all to her name in the past three years.
Michelle Maxwell: Michelle won our 2017 NDW50 in 8:26. She has also won the Jurassic Quarter and the Beacons Ultra in the past.
Rebecca Lane: 3rd here last year she has also run top 10 at the TP100 and won the Chiltern 100km, 214km and St Peters Way ultra.
As always, you can follow the race live via this link starting from 0600 Saturday.
The eigth edition of this race, the opener of our 2019 100 mile calendar and what a line up we have in both the mens and womens fields.
Last year this event was a scorcher, with temperatures topping out at a 26 degrees and a good level of humidity to go with it. We still saw fast times, but nothing approaching what we might be expecting this year.
Here is a run down of the likely leading men and women.
Craig Holgate: Craig is the reigning course record holder with a 14:09 back in 2017. He also won the inaugural edition of this event back in 2012. Craig's resume is world class. He has represented Team GB at 100km, on the trails and at the 24hr format. His 14:09 here came with a huge detour just 8 miles from the finish which denied him and us (!) our first sub 14 hour 100 miler. It is simply a matter of time until that happens and it would be a brave person to bet against Craig doing that here.
Peter Windross: Peter won this event last year in a superb 15:49. He went on to record further solid performances with a 6th and a 5th at the SDW100 and NDW100 before capping off the year with a 15:35 at the A100 for a new Grand Slam record. One would expect Peter to better his time from last year here, however just over the 13th-14th April he had a brilliant result at the Crawley 24hr, with a 227km performance for the win there. That will surely still be in his legs somewhat come the TP100 - but if he can pull off a fast recovery he is clearly in excellent shape.
Ian Hammett: Ian burst on to the ultra scene in 2015 and has gone on to record a string of incredibly consistent results. Stand out performances include a 15:46 for 2nd at the 2016 SDW100. Later that year he won the SVP100km and has finished on the podium or in the top ten at many of our events including the SDW50, NDW50, NDW100 and CW50. He notably also finished 22nd at Spartathlon in 2017. He is in shape, earlier this year he lowered his marathon time down to 2:36 in Seville. As a prospective grand slammer this year he will want to have a flying start here.
John Melbourne: Similar to Ian, John comes into this one with a fine pedigree and an eye on the Grand Slam. A prolific racer, John is willing to have a good go at any distance/ terrain and has come on leaps and bounds in recent years to record some fine results. The pick of the bunch was his superb 3rd place at the SDW100 last year in 15:56, with other 2018 results including a 4th at the NDW50, wins at the Downland Challenge 30 and the Everglades 50 in Florida. He ended the year by breaking 30 hours at Spartathlon, a very solid time for that event. This year he has already opened his account by winning the Monument Valley 50 out in the US, the CTS Sussex and taking 2nd at the Pilgrims Way Challenge. It's safe to say that we can expect big things from him here.
Ed Catmur: Ed is a favourite with us. This man knows how to suffer and when you combine that with the speed he has it can make for some truly spectacular results. Arguably his best run at one of our events was his 15:44 for the course record at the NDW100 in 2013, a record that nobody has come near to since. He was our 2014 champion here and also won our Winter 100 in the early years. During 2016 and 2017 he suffered with injury and was a way off of his best. But 2018 he made strides forward again and notably in November, ran home 6th place in the Australian 100 mile - the Alpine Challenge. He may not be back to the 2013 Ed but hopefully we can see him go from strength to strength once again.
Jason Lewis: Jason has a deep history of solid results at some of the tougher 100s in the UK. 2nd at the Arc of Attrition, 3rd at Lakeland 100, but he can also do it on the flat - he won the Leeds to Liverpool Canal Race (130 miles) in a sub 24 hour time in 2015. One thing is for sure, he will be the one smiling from start to finish.
Paul Radford: Paul has finished runner up at the Ridgeway Challenge three times, including a best in 2018 of 13:35. He also had a super result to end last year with, a 224km at Barcelona 24hr for 5th place. He has plenty of top tens and podium finishes at events like the NDW50, Winter 100 and Cappadocia 110km plus a win at the shorter Weald Challenge 50km.
Ali Watson: Ali also brings plenty of experience to the occassion. A 2nd at the NDW100 and a 3rd at the SDW100 in a time of 16:26 perhaps his two stand out results. He will surely be looking to better that here.
Paul Beechey: Paul has been a consistent performer over the last five years or so. His stand out results include wins at the Kennett and Avon Canal Race (145 miles) with Paul Ali (featured below), Endure 24, T100, the Oner and Cotswold 24hr. He also has two Spartathlon finishes to his name to boot.
Paul Ali: co-winner of the K&A Canal Race alongside Paul Beechey above, Paul has a deeper ultra career than most. He has finished GUCR 7 times and this event 4 times previous with a best of 18:35 on this course. His best 100 was a 17:04 at the Autumn 100 in 2016 and he can certainly go faster than that here based off of 2018 results and consistent improvement.
Dave Andrews: Based in Scotland, Dave has wins at the Glen Lyon ultra and Glenmore 24hr to his name as well as a cracking 17:37 for 4th at the WHW Race last year.
Debs Martin-Consani: Previous winner of this event back in 2013 on the adapted flood route, Debs returns to this event to complete the journey to Oxford! It's a cliche but Debs has done almost everything in the sport. As well as representing GB multiple times at the 24hr format, she has finished huge events such as Spartathlon, TDG, UTMB, Transgrancanaria. She has won the GUCR outright, and finished first at the SDW100, NDW100 and Lakeland 100.
Wendy Whearity: Wendy is the most prolific and consistent 100 mile runner over Centurion events. She has 18 x 100 mile finishes with us and has never finished lower than 8th - but is yet to win one. In the last couple of years, Wendy has found successs at the 24hr format and broke into the GB team in 2018 after running 220km at the Barcelona 24hr in December 2017. There is no doubt she will be eyeing a 100 mile PB and her first win with us here.
Ingrid Lid: Ingrid was our 2018 NDW100 champ in her Centurion debut. She has a host of other top results in her home country of Norway, with a 2nd at the Oslo 80km and a 2nd at Undheim 100km among them.
Leanne Rive: Leanne is a regular at the SDW100, with four top 6 finishes there. She's also gone on in recent years to finish some tough international events including the TDG twice and Transylvania 100. She has lots of solid results around the UK, including four wins at Round the Rock, podium finishes at the Cotswold Way Century and the Thames Trot - and is off to a good start in 2019 with a win at the Flitch Way 100km.
Rebecca Lane: 5th here last year, Rebecca was 3rd at last years SDW100 and won the Chiltern Way 214km, finishing the year with a 7th at the Autumn 100.
Markus Flick: Markus gets the special mention at this event. In 2012 he came over to run with us from his native Germany, finished the race and seeing how torrid the weather was, immediately took to volunteering and helping other runners at the finish. He was a tremendous help to me that day when we were still learning a lot! Since then he has gone on to finish every edition of this race and indeed every edition of the Winter/ Autumn 100. The only other person to finish every edition of this race, Ken Fancett, is suffering an injury coming into this one hence Markus will be looking to take the legacy forward. Of course, this event is childs play for someone who has 4 Tour De Ruhr and 4 UTMB finishes to his name amongst around 150 other ultra finishes.
As always, the race can be followed live via the link here, starting 0930 Saturday 4th May.