In a little over three weeks, I board a plane to Houston to run the Brazos Bend 100 mile race on Saturday 13th December.
This was a race that wasn’t on my radar before July of this year and wouldn’t typically be the sort of race I would cross the Atlantic for. It is pancake flat, not mountainous, it is not point to point and it is not ideal for someone like me who struggles with a sustained pace constantly.
However, one way or another this will end up being one of the most poignant, if not the most poignant race, that I ever run.
Pretty much everyone reading this knows why I am going, but if for any reason you don’t, I am running this in memory of Lon Lomas who was killed whilst cycling this summer. It was his first 100 mile race and I wanted to run it for his family and give them the belt buckle at the finish.
Whilst the idea was good, making it work financially was hard. I had already been to the US this summer to crew for Jez at Western States and had spent all of my holiday nuggets on that trip. However with the help of The Guardian, The North Face, Robert Goyen (the RD of the BB100) and some incredibly generous friends (and strangers) my trip was funded, my accommodation sorted and my entry fee waived.
So, this isn’t exactly the kind of race you can run half heartedly. It’s way bigger than me and I need to deliver on the day (or two…).
Fortunately for me, whilst no 100 mile race is easy, this is set up in such a way that is ideal for someone looking for a fast time or just a finish. So why do I think it will go OK? For a number of reasons.
The race is 4 x 25 mile loops of Brazos Bend State Park, around an hour south of Houston. Whilst mentally a bit of a slog and not the “journey” I would typically seek in a point to point race, logistically this is great. Some of Lon’s friends and family are there to support me and I will run past my tent on each loop, so can change clothes or equipment quite easily.
- No Mandatory Kit
Every ultra I have run so far has been with a race vest and a good amount of mandatory kit. Here there are aid stations every three miles and even carrying a water bottle is optional. To run in just t-shirt and shorts and an i-pod shuffle with a couple of gels will be bliss compared with what I am used to.
Whilst this is not England, in December Texas is not baking hot. It is looking pretty cool at night and temperatures in the daytime are like an English spring day. It is typically dry and not muggy, so whilst I will take a variety of kit with me for eventualities, I hope to run in just the very basics.
- Why I am there
Let’s be honest, the mantra of “if the bone ain’t showing, keep on going” applies here. I would have to be evacuated from the course for medical reasons to not finish this race. Lon’s wife and kids have been through hell and back since July 7th, so a few hours of pain for me is inconsequential. Plus, with a 30 hour cut off on this course, if things go south after a lap or two I could walk in and finish.
So, all in all I feel fit and ready for this endeavour. The belt buckle pictures have just been released and these have given me a goal.
Some of the top ultrarunners in America are running and aiming to break the 100 mile US record of 12:44. There is a belt buckle for sub 16 hours (which is unheard of), sub 22 hours and sub 30 hours.
Having known Lon and his races to date, I believe he would have been on for the sub 22 hour buckle. I ran just over 28 hours at the North Downs Way 100 in August and many things went wrong. It was hilly, hot in the day and torrential rain and wind overnight. I messed up taping my feet and made several rookie mistakes. On a good day I have no doubt I could have run sub 24 there, so sub 22 here is very realistic if I run a smart race.
But only the day will tell and a finish is all that matters.
I can’t wait to meet Alicia, Slaydon and Riley Lomas at the race and I hope I do them and their husband and fathers memory proud.
This will be my last post about this race before I go. So I want to thank everyone who has made this happen. The race is being broadcast live on UltrasportsLive.tv so you can follow my progress and I will also be handing my facebook and twitter feeds to one of my crew who will also be posting on my behalf.