As lottery season fast approaches, I have been thinking about my plans for 2015 and what I want to achieve.
2014 has been a very good year; we kicked off the Social Ultra phenomenon in the UK with the Cotswold Way 50K back in February, I ran a PB at the 50 mile distance at the South Downs Way 50 in April, notched up a third consecutive North Downs Way 50 finish in May and completed my first 100 miler at my second attempt at the North Downs Way 100 in August. Still to come is the Brazos Bend 100 in December.
In 2014, I have achieved everything I wanted and more.
But what do I want to achieve in 2015? Well, obviously I am hoping that one of my two tickets in the Western States lottery will be drawn on Saturday December 7th. But two tickets is a very small amount in a lottery of circa 2000 names. Having said that, with qualification criteria having changed and toughened up dramatically last year it remains to be seen how full the lottery will be compared with previous years, but regardless the chances are still stacked against most of us.
The new Western States rules state that every year you apply and fail to gain entry if you qualify the year after you will get double the tickets. So next year, if I qualify again I will have four tickets in the pot (if my name isn’t drawn in December). With that in mind, my primary goal for next year is simply to qualify again.
Of the three Centurion qualifiers in the UK, the Thames Path 100 is the only one that will be new to me and I am focussed next year on new experiences ( I haven’t run the South Downs Way 100 but have run the 50 mile version, so wanted something completely new). The cut off here is 2 hours faster than other races in the series, which reflects the somewhat easier elevation change on the course compared with the two Downs 100’s. That said, the finish rate is still pretty low and hours and hours of flat, sometimes boring running can take its toll on the same muscles with little variation. So, the Thames Path 100 is my ‘A Race’ for 2015 and comes in May.
We will hold the second annual Cotswold Way 50k at the end of February as a way of testing to see how fit we are after a long, dark winter and I am following this up one week later with The Green Man Ultra, which is a 47 mile loop of Bristol, held on 80% trail. This race has been on my radar for a while and living in Bath, is less than half an hour from my house. So I am all signed up.
I was going to sign up for the Hardmoors 55 race, but have realised it falls on the same weekend as when Monty turns 5, so will put that on the back burner for another year, but is very high up my to do list.
I am leaving the summer open at this stage to see what happens in the lottery, aside from returning to the Bath trail marathon in July. I loved this in 2013 but pushed myself a little too hard so close to the North Downs Way 100. By not returning to the NDW100 in 2015, I can have another good crack at this fantastic course.
I will also put in for UTMB as I have more than the required 8 points. That said, for some reason it just doesn’t fire me up like the American 100’s do. I can’t put my finger on why that is. But it is a must do race and with the chances at Western States being slim for another few years until I bump my tickets up, it would be silly not to apply and have a hedge at another major race.
Finally, the Cotswold Way 100 miler I have volunteered at two years running. It finishes in Bath and everyone who runs it raves about it. I train a lot on the section near Bath, but have never ventured further north than Old Sodbury for time and logistical reasons, so not only will it be a great race but also give me some exploring on recce runs over the summer. I was scheduled to run it this year, but just wasn’t recovered enough from the North Downs but will make it a priority race next summer.
All three of these ultra races are new to me and I am a firm believer of not over-doing things, but spacing races and distances out over the course of a year. I’d like to do some races in the Alps as well, but financially this is unlikely next year and I will keep building up my ability and confidence here first….unless UTMB and Western States drop in my lap.