2014 was a good year running wise. I completed 5 races in total, which is a lot less than many people I know, but I have got to the stage where I am seeking quality over quantity yet always having something a few months away to focus on.
I ran a personal best of 8:47 at the South Downs Way 50 to start the season in April, followed by a lacklustre North Downs Way 50 where I realised I needed to focus on new races. This was my third running of this race and it never gets any easier or enjoyable.
Inspired by crewing for Jez at Western States again in June, I returned to the North Downs in August and completed the 100 mile version where I found out the second half of the race is somehow even tougher than the first, even without 50 miles on the legs. But I completed my first 100 mile race and felt I had become a fully fledged ultrarunner.
This was followed by a PB of 3:38 at the Venice Marathon in October on a last minute entry and finally a sub 24 hour hundred miler at Brazos Bend in December where I placed 18th in 22:31.
So all in all, if I had been offered these results last January, I would have bitten someones hand off to take them.
So what about 2015? Well, financially this needs to once again have a UK focus as I just don’t have the funds to make races like Pine to Palm happen, despite wanting to run this more than ever. That said, I have put in for UTMB as I can do this on the cheap and I find out on 14th January if I have been allocated a place in the lottery. I can tell you the odds like a PHD mathematician for Western States but have no clue for UTMB, so will just wait and see.
My first race of the year isn’t even a race, but is our second running of the Cotswold Way 50k on 28th Feb. We had 19 runners last year and by initial interest for this year I guess we should at least double that which would be awesome. As it is a ‘just turn up on the day’ job, we wont know until the day, but I certainly wont be running this alone. Come find us at midday on the football pitch in Weston, Bath if you are up for some hills and mud. Oh, and its totally free.
This is followed a week later by The Green Man Ultra which is a circa 46 mile loop of Bristol and something that has been on my radar for a while, which I am really looking forward to. Despite living in Bath, I don’t know the route at all so it will be a good fun day out.
My absolute ‘A Race’ for the year is the Thames Path 100 which is next up on the 2nd May. I have never run this, despite being a huge Centurion fan, and I have some lofty goals for this. Primarily, it is a case of just finishing and securing 4 tickets for the Western States lottery next December, but having come back from Houston with a lot of (possibly misplaced) confidence from such a good run at Brazos Bend, which is an equally flat yet technical in places course, and having learned a lot from that race I have been looking at last years results.
Centurion races tend to get more competitive each year and last year 10th place was 19 hours and 7 minutes, so this is the target I have set myself. Taking 3 hours off Brazos Bend is a big ask, but one I know I am capable of and to finish with a ‘teenage’ time for a 100 miler would be a dream come true. That is my focus, but it may yet just be a dream. I have five months from today to get ready for this and I know I can run this time in my heart.
In July I am set to run the 12 Labours of Hercules on the Shropshire Hills which is a new concept as a 24 hour race to me, but one that friends have run before and looks like a lot of fun.
In August it may be UTMB but if not, I have a free entry at the Cotswold Way Century in September and this will be my only other 100 miler for the year. I have volunteered at this two years running and some good friends have completed it. It finishes in Bath, so to end the season in my home town would be pretty cool.
So that is it. All brand new races to me and new experiences. Let’s have a good year!