Monday, 27 August 2012

UTMB - Prelim

This time next week, I will hopefully be recovering having spent my weekend running around the Mont Blanc mountains in France/Italy/Switzerland. The Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB to those in the know) is possibly the most well known ultra event in the entire world (with the possible exception of the Marathon des Sables) despite only being in its tenth year, and even occasionally gets some TV coverage on Eurosport.

The route itself is a 168 Km (104.4 miles in real money) jaunt around the highest mountain range in the Alps, with a crazy elevation profile giving us 9,600 m (31,500 ft - bloody Europeans...) over the entire route and hitting a maximum altitude of 2,500 m (8,200 ft) above sea level. So there's a few hills to worry about. Can't wait!

Start of the 2009 UTMB - that's a whole lot of people! (From
This is my 'A' race for the year, and may well be the only chance I'll have of ever running it, so I had better make it count! Following on from my finishing time of 17 hours at the SDW100, and the fact that the small portion of the Lakeland 100 that I did felt pretty good hill-wise (until I went over on my ankle - let's not do that this time), I tried to predict a finishing time. I figured that 24 hours was a good shout, giving me an extra 7 hours to deal with the extra 20,000 feet of ascent. However, a quick check of the previous years' results suggests that this would put me in the top 10 - highly unlikely! Hmm. So I have been doing more research, following the blogs of others who have run it and have tried to come up with a more realistic finishing time. My aims are (in decreasing order of importance to me):

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Other Side - North Downs Way 100

This weekend was the third event in the Centurion Running grand slam of 100 mile races for the year - The North Downs Way 100. This event was the first race organised by James Elson and team last year (to much appraise) and so this event marked a nice anniversary for what has quickly become one of the premier ultrarunning race series in this country. After a year of running ultras, I thought that it was about time that I gave something back to the community, so contacted James to see about helping out over the weekend in whatever way that I could.

As a handy coincidence, my friend Dan Park was using this event as his first 100 miler, so this gave me the opportunity to help him out as well, acting as a sneaky crew if necessary, and more importantly getting him home to his wife and newborn son in one piece. We drove down to the start at Farnham on Friday afternoon, where I would be helping out with the registration process. James immediately got me to work, bashing out flags outside the car park, selling maps to under-prepared runners (does nobody read the instructions?!), arranging drop bags, talking bollocks to anybody that would listen, and even those that wouldn't, etc. Neil Bryant - winner of this year's Viking Way and Hardmoors 110 (I really want that sword...) - was also helping out, and it was really good to finally meet him in person. Neil is off to run across Europe in a couple of days, and hopefully his nasty ankle injury from UTSW will not affect his 64 day run. His physio has given him up to 20 days - I think he needs a second opinion!

After chewing the fat with James, Neil and the various runners trickling through the registration process, Dan and I disappeared off to chew the fat at the Brewer's Fayre next to the Travel Lodge we were staying at. Fully carbed up (why the hell I was carb loading I have no idea?) we went to bed, safe in the knowledge that we had a personal guarantee from Lenny Henry that we would have a great night's sleep.