A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine, Dave Urwin, and I joked about holding a race in Somerset from Bath, where I live, to near Taunton and his home. We would call this Tour De Peasants and make it a free event to any runners wishing to join in. The gist of it was to have fun and try and raise some donations for an inspirational project he is working on.
Logistically, the route was too tough to link up and we just didn’t have the time to do this. Perhaps another year as ultra races in the UK grow in popularity. It certainly has the potential.
The concept came from an Americanism called a ‘Fat Ass’. An unofficial ‘race’ or run where anyone who wants to and is capable just turns up and gets involved with the group. As ultras here grow, but so do travel and entry costs, more and more of these are springing up regionally and they offer competitive training, which I think is really important. In such a lonely sport, it’s a rarity outside of a race to be able to run with likeminded individuals without the pressures race day can bring.
So, we were committed to doing something and have organised a 50k run on the Cotswold Way on Saturday 8th February. This is not a race and there are no aid stations, marshals or first aiders. It is more a collective run for people who want to run together and see how their winter training has gone before the ultra season kicks into gear in March. We have planned the route, where resupplies could happen (petrol stations and pubs etc), parking and post race meeting point.
We agreed that there would always be a clash with something happening that day, but should be able to muster up some interest.
To date we have over 20 people who have said they will attend and I’d like to think this might grow a little before the day itself. There is no entry form, just turn up if you feel you are capable. The route is a 16.2 mile out and 16.2 mile back from Bath to Old Sodbury on the Cotswold Way and features some stunning views and great countryside. We have planned it so that the out leg will be in the daylight and the return leg via headtorch, for all but the fastest runners. If you want further details, do drop me a line: email@example.com
Aside from this, training needs to step up again before my next race in five weeks. I’ve been battling a cold and a daughter who doesn’t like sleep much, which means avoiding runs has been far too easy. The cold is almost gone and we are about to implement sleep training for her, so my excuses will soon be zero. I really want to do well in this, my last ultra of 2013. After my first DNF in August, I am prepared to finish come hell or high water, but to finish in a time I am happy with would be a big confidence boost.
In addition, lottery season is approaching. There is only one lottery I got into this sport initially for. The list has now grown, but that one race is what drives me and is my key focus. It is (literally) under my skin. The Western States 100 lottery takes place on Saturday 7th December at Placer High School (the location of the race finish on that famous track) in Auburn, California.
I qualified to go into the lottery by running a sub 11 hour 50 mile race earlier this year. Each year the lottery numbers increase and the percentage chance of being selected decreases. Last year each new entrant had a 7% chance. Every year you qualify but your name is not selected, means the year after you get an additional name in the hat. Whilst this gives you double the chance, it also means thousands of additional lottery competitors each December.
After my drop at my first 100 mile race in August, I stated that I would not be entering the lottery for the 2014 race. However, I have been giving this serious thought and decided to change my mind yesterday based on reading James Adams race report from his Spartathlon DNF a couple of weeks ago. Link to this here: http://www.runningandstuff.com/blog/2013/10/3/the-spartathlon-2013.html
My reasons for deciding to enter are as follows:
- I qualified. I earned the right to enter this race and therefore I am capable of finishing it.
- I had a bad day in August, but that doesn’t mean I can’t run 100 miles. I just didn’t want it bad enough that day to push myself through.
- I am highly unlikely to get in. If I don’t, I will have two names in the hat next year for the 2015 running.
- If I do get in, I have six sold months to train and build up to it in addition to already being in the best shape of my adult life. I have surrounded myself with people who have run that race, I know the course profile inside out and I was there in 2012 to crew.
- Sometimes you perform best when under pressure. Qualifying would put me under huge pressure.
- If not now, when? Anything could happen over the next year and I would regret it forever if I didn’t take this chance.
Last year only two Brits were selected and I watched them develop as they built up to this race. Both are better runners than me and the course took them apart bit by bit. But both finished and have said it was every bit as epic as they expected, if not more.
I know one day I will run Western States. It might not be 2014, but I am going to take my first shot at it, in 62 days time.