Before I start, I just want to add the usual disclaimer. I don't know everybody running by name, so apologies if I miss you out or you feel 'over-looked' by not being included here, perhaps it will be a blessing in disguise if you go on to win in style!!! Feel free to comment below on anyone else you think should be included here.
We have a really great field for this years NDW100. As we all know, ultrarunning is a wholly inclusive sport with amazing stories from the very front of the pack, to the very back. Before I roll down the list of who I think could be in with a shot at the titles, I wanted to mention one or two others who stand out in particular. Firstly, we have a group of 4 soldiers from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit running as a group together and supported by an army team throughout the race. What makes things slightly different for them, is that they'll each be carrying a 30lb Bergen Pack and a dummy weapon for the whole of the 100 miles. Here is a note from Adam Kurzeja who we have been communicating with in order to get this to happen:
The lads on tour are working very hard at an extremely difficult job. Since March, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force have sustain some casualties including 3 deaths and many more injuries.
They are raising money by taking part and everything raised will go towards helping those injured and the families of those injured and killed. They have a just giving page for people to donate at this link.
On the Grand Slam side we have 4 runners still in with a shot of completing all 4 x 100s within the same calender year: Allan Rumbles, David Bird, Tremayne Cowdry and Kenneth Fancett. Ken leads the standings at the moment with 2 x 20:30 finishes this year to date and as a finisher of the 2011 NDW100 looks set to continue his streak of finishing every Centurion 100 mile race to date.
So on to the front runner of both fields.
The NDW100 mens race is deep with competition. With a couple of late drop outs the womens field is wide open. Unfortunately Gemma Carter who led the SDW100 until late in the race before dropping with an injury & Nicola Golunska, the 2011 winner of the SDW Race have both had to drop due to injury. We wish them both the best with their recoveries.
There are a host of ladies in the field, 17 in fact making up 15% of the expected start list and there is a huge space for someone to come through and stamp their mark on 100 mile running down here in the southeast.
In the NDW50 I expect both the male and female CR's to be pushed by talented runners at the sharp end and what look to be ideal conditions for the weekend.
ONES TO WATCH
NDW100: Richie Cunningham
Where to start on Richie. Richie came storming past me in the Highland Fling this year early on, floating up the hills and generally making it look all too easy. As a member of the Pearl Izumi Running team, Richie has a back catalogue of finishes and results that any runner would be proud of. He is a 2 time winner and multiple time finisher of the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, one of the most prestigious events in the UK. In 2010 when I fell asleep in the car during the race, Richie went on to break 19 hours at Caesars Camp 100 and still holds the course record there by almost 2 hours over the next fatest ever finisher. I expect Richie to make us work out there all day to keep up with him and it's a real honour to have him in the race.
NDW100: Justin Montague
Justin joins us on an entry he won by taking 1st at the Extreme Energy Round the Island event back in June. He's also ammassed wins in 2012 at the Severn Challenge & Enduranclife Coastal Trail Series Portland and I'm sure there's a lot more I'm not aware of. If it's his first 100 it'll be interesting to see if he can hold his undoubted pace together to push Richie at the front.
NDW100: Drew Sheffield
The dark horse. Drew has trained flawlessly throughout 2012, building up from a good base through January to May, cuminating in a 5th place finish at the Hardmoors 110 in June. He knows the course, he has plenty of 100 mile plus finishes to his name and his strategy of 3 Gu Gels an hour could just see him pick up the pieces if the others blow up.
NDW100: Martin Bacon
Martin featured in our odds for the last 2 events. He stormed through to a 3rd place sub 18 hour finish at the Thames Path 100 in March, following some excellent past results in longer ultras including a 2nd place at the SDW Race in 2010. Having led the SDW100 in June until Harting Downs setting a blistering pace at the front, he suffered a rolled ankle which forced him out of the race at Bignor Hill. If he has recovered and is back to full fitness, he'll push the pace early on and has the experience to hang with it all the way through to the finish.
NDW100: Wouter Hamelinck
Wouter is an ultrarunning legend. He's finished most of the worlds hardest 100's. I first read about Wouter in 2010 when I heard reports of a Belgian guy going over to the US on holiday to run Super Sawtooth 100, then cycling cross country to the Cascade Mountains where he proceeded to run the Cascade Crest 100 before returning home. He has been nursing an injury in 2012 which he picked up earlier in the spring (he ran the Barkley Marathons) and had to bail from the SDW100 at the 3rd to last aid station having been in the top 3 all day. The injury is the only reason he is not higher up the list. If he's fit again, he'll be one to watch moving through the field.
NDW100: Ed Catmur
We've featured Ed on the odds twice before. In 2011 he walked away with 2nd at the NDW50, so he knows the first half of the course and what he can do there. He also picked up wins at the Adventure Hub 100km and holds the Course Record at the Greensands Marathon. In 2012 he has raced a lot. He ran the TP100 in March, won the Picnic Marathon (britains hardest) in June and has recently picked up a top 10 finish at the SDW100 and a finish at the Lakeland 100. He has the talent, the only question is whether he is rested enough from a very difficult 100 miler just three weeks ago in the Lakes.
NDW100: Ross Le Blanc
Ross is the sleeper in the pack. He has been training hard and has the determination and drive to execute a great race. He knows the course off of the back of finishing the NDW50 in 2011 and his coaches believe he can go all the way ;)
NDW100: Alice Hector
I believe this will be Alice's first 100, however she has built up a pedigree of ultra running following a career as a professional Ironman Triathlete. She has already picked up wins at the Wye Ultra, Cardiff Ultra, Norfolk 100km and in 2012, the London 50km. It will be fascinating to see what she can do over the full 100.
NDW50: Darryl Carter
Darryl is the man to beat. An ex pro and sub 9 hour!!! Ironman, just a few weeks ago he broke the FKT for the 100 mile Cotswold Way running from end to end in 20 hours and 36 minutes taking 1:47 off of the old record. In 2012 he's also taken home wins at the Green Man and Malvern Hills Ultras. He has been running ultras for a few years now and Martin Kennards stout record from 2011 will be under threat with the conditions looking good for the weekend.
NDW50: Tracey Horne
Tracey has an Ironman pedigree that makes mere mortals shudder. She brings 6 months of hard work to this race. The pressure is off of her, having converted to trail running only recently but she has all the talent to go fast here. She placed 3rd at the Three Forts Marathon in May on route to this race and had plenty in the tank at the finish. The experience of 'going long' will count for a lot making her one to watch.