After a wet and muddy Thames Path 100 just two weeks earlier, we were delighted to get a clear weather window leading into this one, the trails finally getting a chance to dry out and the record field of 350 runners and 60 volunteers were granted close to ideal conditions on the day. Warm and sunny but with some passing cloud cover and a cooling north easterly breeze, it was a fast and glorious day out on the North Downs Way.
With a year off for the pandemic in 2020 aside, the North Downs Way 50 has been our longest running event. A lot of small things have changed in the intervening period, mostly to help make the event sustainable and open to more entrants, but ultimately it is the same race. The course used to finish outside the pub, but now runs an extra few hundred metres up into the fields. The Box Hill check point has moved across the road and St Martha's CP became Newlands Corner. But everything else is the same. And so each year, the runners get to test themselves against what is now one of the longer standing UK ultra distance events with over 2000 finishers in that time.
Because of the longevity of the event, when a course record gets broken it is a special moment. And in the mens race that was what we were treated to. The pace from the start was extremely fast. 23 year old young gun with what is clearly a bright future in the sport - Callum Job - went off hard and led through CP1 and CP2 - covering those first 14.5 miles in 1:34, putting himself 8 minutes up on Ry Webb's Course Record pace from 2021. A minute back sat Jose Rodriguez, who had run a great 100 miler at our South Downs Way 100 last year.
The section over to the A24 is fast and then the most challenging part of the course between Box Hill and Reigate Hill always seems to shake the field up. Emerging from that stretch first was Jose. He made Caterham at Mile 38 in 4:39, which put him 7 minutes up on record pace and 9 minutes up on his nearest contender Patrick Wightman, now in second place. Over the final miles, Jose slowed a little but so did Patrick and Jose had done enough, coming across the line for a new record 6:33:35. Patrick Wightman ran a superb 6:41 for second place and fourth fastest all-time on this course. Third place went to Gatsby Fitzgerald who climbed the rankings all day to finish in 7:15.
The front of the womens race came down to three athletes who occupied the podium positions from gun to tape, but the lead changed hands multiple times along the way making for fascinating racing.
The early faster running came from Canadian fast marathoner Alicia Kelahear and Amy Sole who had had a good SDW50 back in April. The lead changed hands several times between those two over the first half of the race. Meanwhile Katie Grinyer in third made steady progress and crucially after half way, began to close down the two out front with more consistent, marginally faster splits through the sections over to Reigate Hill and Caterham View Point. She passed Amy on the way to Caterham and then Alicia on the way to the final check point at Botley Hill. A lead she managed to maintain all the way to the finish in a winning time of 8:35. Alicia ran home in second in 8:46 and Amy took third in 8:49. Close, exciting racing throughout.
Katie Grinyer the 2023 NDW50 Champion
In the age categories awards went to the following:
First FV40 was Rike Jones in 9:23 and the first FV50 award went to Kit-Yi Greene in a superb 9:03.
First MV40 was Jose Rodgriguez the race winner. First MV50 was Adam Wilson in 7:55. First MV60 went to Simon Blanchflower in 9:17. First MV70 went to Ken Fancett finishing his 57th Centurion event in the process.
We had eleven people cross the line in the final ten minutes of the race, with regular Centurion volunteer and runner Kevin Stone treating us to a nail biting 12:59:25 to become the 317th and final finisher on the day.
Kevin Stone finishing with 35 seconds to spare
As ever we cannot do any of this without our incredible volunteers and the team of race markers and staff who dove tail the logistics at these events. A huge thanks to all for making this event the successful one that it was.
Saturday 6th May 2023, a day that will be remembered by some as the Coronation day of King Charles III but to everyone out on the Thames this weekend, far more importantly, as the twelfth edition of the Thames Path 100.
A record field, showed up a to an overcast Richmond Old Town Hall and set off on their journey to Oxford University 100 miles away, into a light drizzle that rapidly became steady rain which would persist until well into the evening. That didn't affect things early on as the pace was typically very fast indeed from front to back over the early miles, with much of the initial section paved or all terrain path. But later on the course begins to enter flood plain, meadows and single track trail which became heavier and heavier going with the mud truly epic in one or two places by the end.
That hit our overall finish rate in an incredible way. It took an amazing 5 hours and 36 minutes for a single runner to drop out of the race and a scant 15 runners stopped before the half way point in Henley. After that, however, we lost a further 117 runners between mile 51 and mile 89 on course - leaving an overall finish total of 207 hardy souls or just 61% of the starting field.
But the spirits of our leading men and women were not dampened. In fact it was a fast race up front with some excellent competition amongst the podium positions.
The race for the womens win was a formality however as an unshakeable Line Caliskaner, over from Norway, led from gun to tape. Norway is a nation with a strong record at the womens event here thanks to previous wins and podium finishes for Therese Falk and Ingrid Lid in years past. Line went off hard and didn't stop at CP1 as she tore through the opening 22 miles in 2:48. She increased her lead throughout, including when she took an incorrectly marked detour from the route (along with two others) which added a over a mile to her distance for which she was issued a 15 minute time credit. Behind Line, Sharon Walker sat in second for much of the day, applying just enough pressure for Line not to be able to afford to falter. But later on Sharon did fade and was passed by a storming Becky Atkinson who eventually took second. Line's winning time was 17:02, Becky came home in 18:02 and Sharon third in 19:11.
Line Caliskaner completely unphased by conditions led the race from wire to wire
The mens field was a deep one. The field included a handful of previous Centurion 100 mile champions including Paul Maskell, Geoff Cheshire and Pete Windross. But it was a new runner who made the waves early on and into the second half. Matt Field came in having won one and finished second in the other of his first two ultras which took place earlier this year over 50 miles. He was in unknown territory but running into Henley in 6:36 he held an 11 minute lead over Geoff in second. Just after Shiplake, Matt took the same marked diversion as Line later would, so whilst Geoff led on the ground, Matt was technically still ahead as the two made Pangbourne with the final third to go. The front three were all informed of the situation there so that any tactical racing needed to take Matt's 15 minute time credit into account.
Geoff however seemed unphased as he ran away for the win in what is probably his best result to date, coming home in a superb 14:18 which in the conditions is a truly remarkable run. Matt and Paul Maskell came over the line together in second and third, Matt's time credit bringing him out at 14:52 and Paul at 15:07, rounding out the mens podium.
Geoff Cheshire claimed his first Centurion 100 mile win after coming close several times in the past
In the Age Groups awards went to the following:
First FV40 went to Becky Atkinson who was also second overall. First FV50 went to race winner Line Caliskaner in a huge new age group record. First FV60 went to Trinity Buckley in 27:39.
First MV40 was Geoff Cheshire the race winner. First MV50 went to Sven Tore Holsether. First MV60 to Phil Hoy in 23:09 and first MV70 to Kenneth Fancett in 25:08. His 96th 100 mile finish.
96 runners made it home inside the 24 hour cut off for the 100 MILES ONE DAY buckle and five new runners were added to the 500 mile club and earned their TP100 500 mile buckle in the process.
It was as always, an impossibly challenging weekend, especially with the weather and over 100 volunteers were the true heroes of the day, some of them out in all conditions for well over 24 hours helping runners achieve their goals. Our sincere thanks to every single one.
For 2023, the Track 100 returned to Bedford International Athletics Stadium for the second time. The format remained the same for this year with IAU/ IAAF ratified splits taken at 50km, 50 mile, 6 Hour, 100km, 12 hour and the ultimate prize, the 100 mile distance. The overall cut off remained at 17 hours and with exceedingly high qualification marks required for applicants, the small and elite nature of the event keeps record setting conditions to an optimum.
The 2023 runners had a tough act to follow, with five World and nine National records set at the 2022 event including of course the Mens 100km World Record of 6:05 from Aleksandr Sorokin and the Womens V40 50 mile and 6hr records from Dominika Stelmach. But also from the winning times achieved last year; Sam Amend's 14:10 British Womens 100 mile record and Alex Whearity's 12:42.
In the past the field sizes have ranged from 8, up to 15. With four weeks to go until race day, 16 athletes remained on the start list but that began reducing as we approached race day for a variety of reasons, illnesses, injuries and other derailments all affecting the field. Athletes shooting for performances so close to the red line, will only race if everything is optimal. Some of those we would miss greatly in terms of being able to see what they could have achieved, but the remaining 8 starters gave us plenty to get excited about and honestly, from an organisational stand point it's still such a huge amount of work for such a small group.
Four UKA officials, a team of ten volunteers and six race day staff as well as the runner crews all required to make it happen.
The unique thing about the event this year was that whilst it all ultimately came down to just a 100 mile race for the men and the same for the women, every athlete had their own target and was almost out there just racing against themselves. Every runner this year had either a World or National target, or their own personal ambition in mind - and due to the varying age categories and nationalities, none were directly competing with each other.
Ultimately the womens race was won by Ingrid Lid in 14:13:15 and the mens race by Dan Lawson in 12:37:10. But for the report we'll touch a little on every athlete.
Conditions overall on the day were frankly, perfect. Last year the wind was significant and impacted runners substantially, something that makes the performances achieved that much more remarkable. But this time the weather stayed cloudy, the wind extremely low and the temperatures in the 6-12 degree range for the majority of the day. The sun did emerge between hours 6 and 10 and did have an impact on some of the runners but otherwise, we could not have asked for a better day.
It was a day of the finest of margins overall and in every case, the margin fell the right way - whether it be for a record or a finish.
Ingrid Lid: Ingrid came in with a PB of just north of 15 hours and with the lofty ambition of setting new Norwegian records at 12 hours - 135km+ and 100 miles - 14:25. We know Ingrid well, she has won our NDW100 and finished second at the TP100 twice and each time she races she brings both an incredibe steely determination whilst remaining so positive to those around her, constantly thanking and smiling whenever encouragement is offered. She started the race out at an incredible rate, pushing a 7:10-7:30 min mile pace for lap after lap, seemingly too quick for her to be able to maintain and the concern was that the drop off could then be dramatic, compromising the overall 100 mile goal. But she reaped the additional reward of a new Norwegian 50 mile record of 6:22:32 as she hammered through the half way mark way up on schedule. Whilst she then began to slow, hit a couple of rough patches and certainly suffered with some stomach issues, she just dug in over and over again and made excellent pace once again. She began closing in on the 12 hour record and it was obvious she would break it comfortably, in the end adding 3km to it with a distance of 138.617km. Her running through to the 100 mile finish was sensational and she crossed the line for a finishing time of 14:13:15, setting a new Norwegian record by 12 minutes and only missing out on Sam Amend's course record here by 3 minutes.
Sarah Sawyer: Sarah ran this event back in 2021 and came heartbreakingly close to finishing before injury slowed her down and she succumbed to the 17 hour limit just 5km or so from the finish. This time she was back with the singular purpose of finishing inside the cut off, in fact she would need to run a PB to achieve her goal of finishing. From early on it seemed that she was able to eek out small margins over her 2021 splits for a seemingly equiavelent effort level and this seemed to bouy the spirts of both her and her crew. In the end whilst she slowed in the latter stages and her time looks quite close to the overall cut off, it didn't really ever seem in doubt that she would do it. A really well executed and managed race from Sarah and a deserved finish in 16:43:32 for second.
Chavet Hills: Chavet had travelled over from Colorado to take part in the event and like Sarah, had one singular intention, to try to finish inside of the 17 hout cut off. Her day got off to a scrambled start as on the start line she lost a couple of minutes sorting her bib numbers out which for IAU / UKA rules need to be on display at all times - the race referee overseeing that all was above board. Once off and running, she was metronomic in her pacing and again like Sarah, ran extremely consistently throughout. Chavet, however, was very marginally slower than Sarah for the first 14 hours or so and from a long way out it looked like whilst Sarah was likely doing just enough to finish, Chavet was going to be very close indeed to the overall 17 hour barrier. With about 90 minutes to go, tensions began to rise as the realisation dawned that she might miss the finish by the margin of time she spent sorting her bib numbers out at the start. She needed to average a 2:46 lap pace with 60 mins to go, to make the cut off. She began to speed up just enough and began clocking between 2:39 and 2:44 for each loop, giving herself the finest of margins to get it done. In the end she crossed the line in 16:58:01, to take third place and round out a 100% finish rate for the ladies. The perfect end to everyones day.
Dan Lawson: Dan came into the race running as well as he ever has. Last October he set a new 24hr PB in Verona of 273km, good enough for fifth place at the European Championships. This year he has already won the Eastbourne Half and set a new 10km PB to boot. Earlier this year he also crossed into a new age category, when he turned 50 and this brought into view a host of potential records, most notably the 12 hour and 100 mile MV50 World bests of 148.59km and 13:41 (set here last year by Mike Stocks) respectively. Dan got off to a rapid start and hammered through the early miles all at sub 7 minute pace. Everything seemed to be flowing really well. Through 50km in 3:35 he missed out on a British 50km record by 9 minutes or so but if he kept that pace up he would endanger the MV50 50 mile European Record of 5:47:15. A decision was made to hold that information back from him until about 30 minutes from it, because he was running so close to the pace he needed to achieve to get it and it was of course, not the main goal. Would an interim push for it, derail his overall ambitions? But in the end he was so close we made the call to let him know. He upped the pace by just a few seconds per lap and began to hunt it down, he had to work a tiny bit too hard for it but he did bag it, coming in with 14 seconds to spare in 5:47:01. He also bagged the MV50 British 6 hour record shortly after with a mark of 83.133km. He could now ease right off and cruise to the next set of records, however the extra effort caused him some stomach issues and a spell of walking/ sitting and rallying. But Dan is the master of staying in his own space, he knows better than anyone else that the lows don't last and together with his partner and crew Charlotte, what to do to turn it around. The wheels started turning again and he gradually began to gather steam until he was practically flying again. Having dropped to third from first, he rose back up to first again and from there it was a formality. A new MV50 12 Hour World Record of 153.941 (also a PB for Dan) and a new MV50 100 mile World Record of 12:37:10 were his rewards. That and his first Centurion Trophy.
Luka Videtic: Luka came in as Slovenian 12 hour and 100 mile record holder, the latter a time of 13:38 which he ran on route to a 10th place finish in the Euro 24 Hour Championships last October. His aim was to better those marks. He went off at an extremely fast pace and initially led the race. His plan seemed to be to allow for a fade, but how much, only time would tell. He made it through 50 miles in 5:55 and on to 100km in 7:34 and seemed to be doing just about enough as time drifted on. Then he hit a bit of a wall and walking breaks became longer and longer, but with some gentle (loud vocal) encouragement he dug in for the final 20 minutes to ecplise his previous 12 hour Record by just under 500 metres, with 148.957km. From there the 100 mile looked to be possible too and he went on to take that too, with a second place finish in 13:35:19.
Ciaran Mcaneny: Ciaran's story at this race was unique. He wasn't in the event to shoot for records and with an 80km, 6 hour PB it didn't seem as if the final cut off would threaten him at any stage either. He was out just to run the best race he could and to that degree his was a very successful outing. A super attitude, thanking everyone throughout and seemingly really enjoying the whole experience, he made good, steady progress as he made 50 miles in 7:18, 100km in 9:25 and went through 124.22km in 12 hours. He slowed in the final stages but as Tristan and Robert had stopped early, he eventually took the final podium place in a time of 16:17:20.
Tristan Stephenson: Tristan came into the race with limited track ultra experience, but with some super performances on the trails behind him including a 13:59 win at the TP100 last year. It is quite clear to all that he is capable of some special performances and he came into this event with rightfully lofty goals, the main one being an MV40 British 100 mile record of 12:37:55, a time that would also likely also yield by default a new MV40 12 hour British record in the process. He started out right at the 7:00 - 7:05 per mile range and held it metronomically. His day seemed intertwined with Dans from the start, slightly behind of him for the first 50 miles, the MV40 50 mile British record of 5:54:20 came into view and was on his radar, but like Dan it was clear Tris would have to push a little harder than he had been, in order to get it. He upped the tempo just fractionally and came in with 13 seconds to spare, with a new age category 50 mile record of 5:54:07. He ran through to a new 100km PB of 7:26, as Dan suffered and Robert and Luka dropped back, Tristan found himself in the lead of the race around the same time. Seemingly the strongest and most consistent out on track, as the temperatures warmed slightly and the day wore on, his stomach began to waver and he began to suffer some dizzy spells which led to some problem solving in the moment. Walking some, stopping some, cooling, trying a variety of different food and drink for the first time, he would get back to running well but then suffer the issues all over again. The third or fourth rallying attempt was the final one and he called it a day just short of ten hours into the race. Nobody has any doubt, he will be back!
Robert Hajnal: Robert came in with the intention of shooting for a new Romanian 100km record, which stood at 6:41. A star of the international trail running scene, he is one of many top off road runners to dip their toe into this side of the sport in recent years and it promised to be fascinating to see what he could achieve. His first 40km went largely to plan, but he began to slow just slightly to 50km. He led through there in 3:20:33, but now needed an even split to set a new record. That possibility quickly faded away but to his immense credit, he rallied and stayed out on track, to run a new Romanian 50 mile national record and eventually finish the distance he started out for, making 100km in 7:56:53.
So three World/ Continental Records and eight National Records later, despite the small field it was another exceptional day on the track. A huge thank you to our team of officials and all of the volunteers who make this possible year after year for the love of the sport and nothing more. To the athletes and their crews for making it such a memorable and inspiring day for all of us. And to all of you following from home on the live stream.
All Photos Pierre Papet/ Centurion Running, final image c/o Norbert Mihalik
The eleventh edition of the South Downs Way 50 took place on Easter Saturday this year, and as has been the case for several years, it coincided nicely with the arrival of spring to bless runners, volunteers and supporters with a wonderful day out in close to perfect conditions.
The South Downs Way 50 has always attracted a really diverse field. Many approach this as their first 50, for whilst there are hills aplenty, they are long gradual climbs offering the chance to re-fuel but still move forward at a good pace. Whilst the descents down into the valley check points also tend to be long and gradual, making for some faster running. With the mud and water largely gone from the course thanks to warmer weather this week, the course played out fast indeed. We also tend to see some faster road runners taking this step up in distance, as well as mountain and trail runners from across the country looking to get their race season started.
Photo by David Miller Photography
In the womens race we saw early leaders Rebecca Di-Luzio and Jen Wood battle back and forth on the different slope aspects, before a gap began to open up just after Saddlescombe. It grew very gradually as the race went on and Rebecca ran home the winner in 7:15. Hers was the fifth fastest all time on this course and her first win with us. As a mountain runner by trade, she found the running almost too good! Jen crossed the line second in 7:29, also a superb time. Charlotte Baker took third in 8:04.
Jen Wood nipped in for second just under the 7:30 mark
The mens race was a more closely fought affair, until the half way point. Lewis Ryan and Paddy Hamilton both quick road runners, tore through the early stages, just off of Tom Evan's 5:44 record pace. Paddy sat just behind Lewis for most of the way, seemingly marking the leader. But unfortunately some pre-race niggles developed into an insurmountable issue and he was forced to pull the pin at Housedean Farm just past the marathon mark. That left Lewis, who had come through there in 3:05 elapsed, to run through for a relatively uncontested win. He eased off the gas on the final climbs to preserve himself but still ran home in what was also a fifth fastest time on this course, 6:12.
Second place also went to a faster road man, Liam Mcintyre taking that in 6:40. Marius Posa picked up third in 6:43.
Lewis Ryan comes home for the win in 6:12
In the age categories, some super performances were laid down on what was a bit of a bumper PB day for many athletes.
Womens winner Rebecca Di-Luzio also took home the FV40 prize in what was a new age category winning time. First FV50 was Laura McGill in 8:43 - also an age category record. Nicky Callus was our only FV60 finisher, but in a stellar time of 11:16.
The Mens Vet 40 prize went to Liam Mcintyre. First MV50 was Rick Curtis, once again, in 7:38 - the fourth time he has won that award. First MV60 was Tony Deacon in 9:07 and the MV70 prize went as usual, to Ken Fancett in 10:11.
The final finishers gave us the usual jeopardy, Mike Clyne making it home to rapturous applause and cheers with a whole 76 seconds to spare under the 13 hour cut off!
With huge thanks as always to our team of volunteers, this was another wonderful start to the 50 mile race season.
Photo by David Miller Photography
For 2023 we had a new start to our race season, with the introduction of the Hundred Hills 50km. Based out of Stonor Park, set in the heart of the Chiltern Hills, the race travels around the surrounding countrside over two roughly equal loops, starting at Stonor, returning at half way and again for the finish.
350 runners lined up for the first edition, a real mixture of our regular Centurion runners and those brand new to both Centurion events but also the sport of ultra running.
The weather in the lead up had been wet and an overnight soaking left the course damp and muddy. With steady rain throughout loop one, things were tough underfoot in places but despite that runners seemed to be having an absolute blast, commenting to us at half way on how beautiful the course was.
As our leaders made it in to the finish, the sun finally burst through and we were treated to a drier second half and more of the celebratory feel we were hoping for when we put this in the calendar.
The ladies race was a closely fought affair with some brilliant running going on amongst the leaders. Celia Waring ran fastest out of the gate and into Ibstone, check point one at around 10km in, with Sophie Biggs our 2022 Chiltern Wonderland 50 winner right behind her in second place. Amy-Jo Clarke who won our North Downs Way 50 last year, passed both of the leading ladies on the way to CP2 at Skirmett, but it was Celia who ran into the half way aid station back at Stonor, about 300 metres or so up on Amy-Jo. They passed each other on the short out and back across the Estate to the check point.
Amy-Jo made her move coming down the hill into the fourth check point at Hambleden around 20 miles into the course, passing Celia in strong fashion and from there, gradually extended her lead over the closing 11 miles to finish with the win and another Centurion trophy in a time of 4:46:52. Celia came home just 9 minutes later for second place in 4:55 and third place went to Michelle Attridge in 5:00 who ran a fantastic race, climbing the rankings through to the finish.
Amy-Jo Clarke picked up her second Centurion race win
In the mens race, it was one man out front from the gun, Dan Weller. Dan grew his lead across the event and didn't look troubled for the win in a superb time of 4:05. Second place went to Richard Bedlow who climbed from sixth at check point one, gaining places throughout the race for his 4:17 finish. Samuel Anderson came home third in 4:21.
Dan Weller powered home for the mens win
Some superb age group performances were also laid down.
Teresa Reason took the FV40 prize in 5:22. First FV50 went to Dawn Godwin in 5:05 - what is astonishing here is that four FV50 ladies came home within 13 minutes of each other and any one of them would have taken the FV40 prize as well! Congratulations to Sophie Biggs, Tamsin Neale and Sharon Walker on some stellar running. First FV60 went to Patricia Keene in 7:54.
In the mens age categories, first MV40 went to Richard Bedlow - also second overall. First MV50 to Neil Martin in 4:35. First MV60 to David Prince-Iles in 5:30 and the MV70 prize to David Rootes in 7:26.
319 runners crossed the line within the 9 hour cut off. Helen Weeden gave us a good deal of excitement at the end, we knew from the tracker that she would be close to the final cut off but the extremely good visibility out down the estate path from the finish line meant the crowd could see her coming from a couple of minutes away. She crossed the line in 8:58:25 sending everyone home in great spirits to end a fantastic day!
Our huge thanks to the volunteer team that made this event possible. To Stonor Estate and the other village councils for allowing us to borrow this course for the day. We very much look forward to hosting the second edition of this race in March 2024.
One Slam 2023 took place between the 1st of January and 11th March. Runners had 10 weeks, or 70 days to complete their self appointed challenge.
Distances ranged from 50 miles right up to 1000 in that time, with ages from 3 to 81 and there were notable performances from everywhere, but particularly the runners at the outer extremes of that range. Amelia Dunkley stole the hearts of the crowd as she ran her way to a 100 miles (pictured first in below). Meanwhile Ian Maddieson finished his 1000 miles in the final hours. His is quite the story. A 15 time finisher of the Western States 100, he was one of four Vet 80 runners to finish the recent US 100 mile championships, which formed part of his Slam mileage, in a time of 37:15.
As always the community pulled together to encourage one another through their respective challenges. It has become such a wortwhile, inspiring and motivating event to start each year with. Long may it continue!
Finishers lists and certificates are available via the links above. Photos below shared by parents of and runners of the 2023 event. Congratulations to all!