So two blogs in two days, you lucky people you.
We are nearly half way through January and for a person who likes to plan races and events quite well in advance I haven’t yet blogged about my forthcoming race calendar for the year. Obviously, my calendar was organised months ago but some of you (my wife) might be interested in what I’m up to this year.
As with most people there’s the bucket list of events which you fancy undertaking and this list gets longer and longer each year as you find out about new and interesting event and broaden your horizons.
My current plan was to try out a lot of the 100 mile plus races around the UK. 100 mile races are pretty challenging events and there seems to be more of them appearing each year so this seems like a good challenge to keep me occupied for a few years. Spartathlon has given me a bit of a taste of an epic foreign run but largely due to time out and cost these are going to be the very occasional event.
I do enjoy the really long runs (obviously not during the run) but get some satisfaction about completing these about a week later when the aches and pains have finally settled down and you can walk normally. So it was quite pleasing to tick off the longest (The Thames Ring) last year. 150 miles plus is the new 100 miles as they say, well they don’t say it but you’re all thinking it now. I also have a few favourite runs and do try and take part in my “local” ultra’s largely down to the convenience and they’re all pretty great events (and they’re all flat).
However, there’s plenty more runs out there and a few tough long runs which I haven’t yet tackled including the Hardmoors 160 and pretty much all of Mark Cockbain events and if you haven’t tackled a Cockbain event then you can’t really be considered a proper ultra runner, can you?
The problem is that you can’t fit in all the events that are taking place and have to be a bit more selective due to cost, time out and the training and recovery between each year. Therefore, I have ignored all that advice and signed up to the following events this year.
Jan 2014 – Winter Tanners
A 30 mile mud-fest around the trails in Surrey. This was designed as a training run and you can read yesterdays blog for my brief report.
Muddy Tanners – done.
Feb 2014 – Thames Trot
This is a 50 mile ish run from Oxford to Henley along the Thames Path and my usual early season warm up event to test the fitness. The recent wet weather means the Thames is flooded is several places and the route is likely to be diverted as per last year so it may be cut short by a couple of miles. I’ve still got the streak going as being the only person to take part and complete the race each year and therefore I have to enter this race each year just so I can mention it in my blog. It’s a good, popular event and well suited to Ultra newcomers with good support and little navigation but it can be cold, wet and muddy due to the time of the year its run.
2013 Thames Trot
Feb 2014 – Wokingham Half
A planned short effort a week after the Thames Trot.
Mar 2014 – Reading Half Marathon
My local half marathon and another event where I have an 8 or 9 year streak. I tend to alternate between fancy dress and an effort run and this year it was due to be a fancy dress effort so might need to start thinking about a costume. Any ideas welcome.
2013 Reading Half
April 2014 – London Marathon
I finally secured a place in the ballot after several years of trying! 5 years of waiting did seem a little easier than actually doing some proper speed work and aiming for a “Good For Age” time though. The plan is to run, have fun and enjoy the atmosphere and sights. After all, its just going to be a nice training run for the Thames Path 100 (see below).
April 2014 – Enigma Marathon
I entered this thinking I probably wouldn’t get a place in London and so this takes place less than a week later but that’s nothing to use hardened Ultra runners right? This is also my first Foxy marathon, as they usually sell out quickly to the usual hardcore group of marathon runners. This could be the marathon I have a little go at my less than spectacular PB as it’s a couple of weeks before the Thames Path 100 (see below). At the least it should be a zippy (relatively speaking) training run.
May 2014 – Thames Path 100
This is the first in the Centurion Slam of events (4 x 100 milers) and one of my aims for the year. Despite having run a few 100 milers, I honestly don’t think I’ve actually had a decent effort so the goal will be a sub 20 time (19.59 will be fine).
The event is a 100 mile run from Richmond to Oxford through mostly familiar territory for me, its flat and has been pushed back from March to May so the weather should be better than the last couple of years and I’ve got a bit longer to get fit after my end of year slump and winter diet (marzipan chocolate and mince pies). It’s my best chance of a good time this year as I should be fit and fresh.
2013 Thames Path 100
May 2014 – GUCR
The GUCR is one of my favourite races and this will be my fourth running of the event. Last year I had a pretty decent run finishing in under 33hrs and 4th overall.
The good news is that my running buddy Stouty is back and the dynamic duo will hopefully be plodding down the canal paths in fine fettle on the last bank holiday in May. This is also Stouty’s Spartathlon qualifier event for 2015 but he will easily smash that 37 hour goal if he carries on training the way he has started this year. I will have to see how I recover from the Thames Path 100 which is only 3 weeks earlier but at least I can have a long rest after this event.
May 2014 – Kent Roadrunner Marathon
(Update) Forgot I entered this. A really good marathon which I ran in 2012 and takes place a week after the GUCR. It’s not a massive event (400 runners max) but has a friendly field of runners, superb logistics and is very well organised. The whole event is staged within Kent Cyclopark with parking facilities, shower and food facilities before and after the race. The medals are generally awesome (and huge) but the T-shirt may be a little to colourful for my personal taste!
June 2014 – South Downs Way 100
What did I say about a rest? Three weeks after the GUCR is the second of the Centurion events. I’ve not run the South Downs Way 100 (or even along the South Downs Way) but hear it’s a great run and looking forward to it.
Oh well, at least I can have a nice long rest after this event.
June 2014 – Endure 24
What did I say about a rest? The Endure 24 is my local Ultra (about 10 minutes from my house) and is an event I am supporting this year. The format of the event is a 24 hour run around laps of Wasing Park which is closed off to the public. Competitors can enter as solo entrants, pairs, small teams (3-5) or large teams (6-8).
Runners and supporters can camp in the ground all weekend and the weather has been great the last couple of years and the facilities have been good with hot food, toilets and showers all provided. The event has been a real festival of running for local runners and running clubs.
This is the third year of the event which I first took part as a solo entrant in 2012 and then took part in a mixed team of 8 in 2013. The event has grown each year and I believe this year’s event is going to be even bigger and better!
However, I haven’t quite decided in what capacity I will participate. I have a few close friends taking part in the solo category (Stouty and Matt Brown who is completing his first Ultra) and it would be great to join the boys on the run but I’m not likely to be well rested after the previous three events and it could get miserable. However, despite really enjoying the event as a team of 8 last year, I couldn’t quite help but feel that I was missing out when I saw all the solo runners giving it there all for the full 24 hours.
I have been toying with a pair’s entry (subject to finding a buddy) as it would immediately cut down the running whilst still giving me the opportunity of spending lots of hours on the run and it’s also category I haven’t entered yet.
Then there’s the 3-5 man or 6-8 man teams, which would be the easiest to take part as there’s less running per person and also very enjoyable taking part in a team effort. However don’t think it’s that easy as I was knackered trying to blast out 5 x 5 mile loops at all hours of the day and night last year and get home shattered!
My local running club (the Reading Joggers) also heavily support the event and have used it as their annual club get together with several team entries and people entered into pairs and solo categories. The event is a great opportunity for Running Clubs to have a weekend together and the different format of the events give all runners a chance to take part in whatever capacity they choose.
So, what do you think? Am I crazy for thinking of a solo entry, should I just get a team together. Who else is running the event? I’m really torn on this one.
At least I can have a long rest after this one..
2013 Endure 24
July 2014 – Holiday
Yes, we’re going away on holiday to the US and I am having a rest and checking out American brands of kit and trainers.
August 2014 – North Downs Way 100
The third in the set of Centurion events and possibly the toughest of the lot due to the more hilly nature of the course. I crewed the event last year at the Detling Aid Station and looking forward to taking part this year.
I will probably need a rest after my fourth 100+ miler this year.
August 2014 – T184 Endurance Run
Ah, what did I say about a rest? This is the inaugural running of the T184 and takes place two weeks after the NDW100. The event is a self-supported 184 mile non-stop run (competitors can sleep if they are ahead of the cut offs but the clock is ticking) along the full length of the Thames Path from the Thames Barrier to the rivers source.
The event is more unusual as competitors must carry all their food, clothing and mandatory equipment but will be provided with water at checkpoints. No crews are allowed and buying or stopping off for food on the way is prohibited. The event will also see competitors carrying personal GPS devices and should provide a fine spectacle to the internet audience much like the Spine Race, which is taking part at the moment.
September 2014 – Purbeck Marathon
“I bet you can’t run a decent marathon over some challenging terrain” said my mate Matt Coggins. “I bet you’re right” I answered and then entered the Purbeck Marathon anyway. This should be a good challenging run and a good warm up for the Winter 100.
October 2014 – Winter 100
The last of the Centurion events which will hopefully see me complete the Grand Slam. The event consists of a 4 x 25 mile out and back legs and I have completed this event in 2012 and swept the last leg in 2013 so this takes place on familiar territory.
The event has also been moved forward from November to October so conditions may be a little milder than previous years but anything can happen with the unpredictable British weather.
2012 Winter 100 pictured with Wendy Shaw
November / December 2014
Nothing planned at the moment!
In terms of my goals, these are to:
1. Complete all my races.
2. Sub 20 at a 100 miler
3. Have fun.
4. Maybe have a crack at the marathon PB.
5. Run more miles than Lindley Chambers.