Our tenth and final race of the season for the last time as it moves to July from 2023 onwards, Wendover Woods 50 has a special place in the hearts of many, not least for the staff and volunteers.
This year was no different, with the weather the icing on the cake in making this the perfect end of year celebration of all that is good about the community and this sport. A dry day, dry trails and optimal conditions. In total, 45 minutes of rain in the entire of our 2022 race season is both miraculous and also quite scary for obvious reasons.
2022 Wendover Woods 50 Recap Video (Steve Ashworth Media)
A lead group of guys went roaring off of the front and split into two sizeable packs, less than a minute apart. Fiona Pascall, lead lady right from the gun, had clearly decided not to get caught up in the excitement and stuck to her own race plan, running just inside the top twenty. We knew from experience we were going to enjoy seeing how many runners she could reel in over the upcoming 45 miles.
Fi's Lakeland 24 hour record earlier this year was a performance the likes of which we rarely see from runners at our events. Wendover Woods 50, because of the course profile - 10,000ft of climb and descent on steeper woodland trail, does attract a different runner than those we might ordinarily see. When we get an athlete of Fi's class come to race it is always hugely exciting.
She seemed to smile her way through the entire race, polite and thankful to the volunteers whilst being extremely efficient grabbing just what she needed and barely breaking stride through the check points.
Her win in the womens race was a formality and in the end, hers was a massive new course record in a time of 8:33:44.
She eventually passed most of the guys too, moving up their leaderboard from 13th, to 11th, to 6th and into 5th going into the final lap. From there she motored her way through to third with 2km to go. A hugely impressive win and run, in a race which was undoubtedly not her target event!
Fi Pascall (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
Behind Fi, Una Miles impressed all day with her positive energy and battling style. Una held second place for the entire race, crossing the line in 9:34 for second. Rounding out the podium, third place and her first Centurion top three went to Team GB 24hr runner Sophie Power in 9:43 - again she held her position all day. Three extremely solid runs to take the womens podium places.
Sophie Power (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
The mens race was as previously described, a tough battle before the inevitable fragmentation. Through the entire first lap you could have thrown a blanket over the first six guys. But in the long run, literally, only two of those would hold pace and persevere. Both had travelled from further afield and the hillier north to take part in this event.
Over laps 2 and 3 as the field began to spread and thin out, Pierre Meslet and Tim Bradley duked it out up front whilst Jamie Rutherford sat just behind. Before Jamie ran through into the lead as Pierre stopped to take care of some issues, a position the first time Centurion runner was then able to capitalise on and hold through to the end. He ran through to a fantastic win in 8:05. Worth noting that much like Fi, he also stopped (literally) to thank course marshals and volunteers on the way round his final loop. A classy run for a top guy.
Jamie Rutherford (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
Scott Newburn, also racing with us for the first time, played a good tactical game and ran through to second place just a kilometre or so into the start of the final loop and held on for second in 8:20. Pierre Meslet took a fantastic third in 8:35.
A new Grand Slam 50 mile champion was crowned and as predicted it was the same man who won the 100 mile slam. Mark Lynch has had the most exceptional season and deserves a well earned break!
Mark Lynch (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
The Womens 50 Mile Grand Slam win went to Rachel Lindley who also had a superbly consistent year.
In the Age Categories, Stacey Sangster picked up first FV40 with fourth overall in the womens event in 9:59. The FV50 award went to Claire Howard in 11 hours flat, a huge age group course record.
First MV40 went to Tom Harvey in 9:06. MV50 went to Steve Chamberlain in 10:41. MV60 to Neil Brooks in 11:17, an age group course record of well over an hour. MV70 to David Rootes in 14:36. David is not only our first MV70 finisher of this event but as a Slammer, of course therefore also our first Grand Slam 50 Mile MV70 finisher. A huge congratulations to him.
In other news for this race, we must mention Luigi Fumero who continued his streak of finishing every edition of the WW50, with a sixth finishers medal, his 24th 50 mile finish with us and a fifth Grand Slam.
Also deserving of a mention, the indomitable Lesley Lewis who some of you will remember as missing the cut off here last year, by 3 seconds. She came back and ran a hugely impressive race to come home in 14:25 and clear the monkey from her back!
The race comes back in July next year, as part of our Wendover Woods Weekender, alongside the 100 mile, the Night 50km and the brand new 10 mile and kids events. Entries are open now so check out all of the details here.
A huge thanks to our volunteers as always, whether at the main Marquee, down at Hales Kitchen, the half way aid station, marking or sweeping the course, or stood out for hours on end in the woods course marshalling. Nothing is possible without them!
See you all in 2023 and thanks to everyone who played a part in making this another wonderful year at Centurion.
Check out the post race debrief podcast now available here.
This was the eleventh edition of this wonderful little race, where Centurion Community spirit is at its highest. It is always a great way to finish the 100 mile season. The four different out and backs that make up the course allow everyone to share in the bubble of event weekend even more than usual. With runners cheering each other on throughout the race and the volunteers helping them out and back through HQ at Goring on Thames at the end of each spur.
We've had eight dry races so far in 2022. Chatting to double slammer Mark Lynch as he ran home in a podium place once again, he remarked how he'd definitely picked the right year to take on such a monumental challenge. We did get a short shower early on Saturday morning and the trademark autumn winds did blow, especially through the late afternoon. But overall temperatures and conditions were good and that made for some really close racing in both the mens and womens events (and less mud than normal to sweep up at the end!).
In tbe womens race, 2017 champion Mari Mauland led the way from the gun right the way through the first three legs, or 75 miles. Her margin over the rest of the field drifted in and out, as did the runner closest to her. It is usually by the end of Leg Two, mile 50 that we get to see who will likely be in contention for the overall positions. Mari went through Goring for the second time in 7:54, followed by Centurion Ultra Team runner and one of our most consistent ever performers - Debbie Martin-Consani who was now just thirteen minutes back in second. Third place Jilian Convey decided to stop there, which left the super experienced Melissa Montague and the continually improving Ally Whitlock in third and fourth, heading out on to the Ridgeway.
Mari actually extended her lead over leg three but was clearly suffering from several falls with a banged up knee and hand. But she ran strong and came back to Goring fairly relaxed and focused on finishing strongn over the last section. Debbie came in to HQ within a few minutes of Mari leaving and after a quick turn around, left with her pacer Kirsty Reade. It was Ally however, who looked perhaps most energised here however, feeling good and extremely excited to go after a huge 100 mile PB.
Sure enough, Mari's issues hampered her through the outbound section to Reading and it was just after the first of the three check points on that leg, that Debbie passed her to take the lead. Mari hung close behind for a little while, but the gap then began to grow at first slowly, but then significantly as Mari took time to rally at the Reading aid station at mile 87. Ally had made good progress and also passed Mari, moving up into second.
Debbie Martin-Consani at sunset out on the Ridgeway
Debs stretched away on the final section and just broke the 18 hour mark for the win in 17:58, her first win here following two second places in years past. In doing so she has achieved the remarkable feat of winning all of our four core trail 100s and the Track 100 to boot.
Debs Martin-Consani with pacer Kirsty Reade (Stuart March Photography)
Ally finished second in 18:27 and Mari just hung on to third in 19:50. Melissa as well as Anna Brown coming home within just five minutes of her at the end. Such an exciting race from start to finish.
The mens race played out in a not dissimilar fashion, thanks to some competitive racing up front. Out on leg one it was newcomer Barry Bryant running alongside the second most experienced Centurion runner of all time, Ed Catmur. Ed was going for his 28th 100 mile finish with us, his ninth Autumn 100 (he won it all the way back in 2013) and amazingly his first Grand Slam. Longevity we can all be envious of!
Behind the front two sat Peter Windross, last years run up in only the second sub 14 hour time ever on this course, as well Rob Barnes and Justin Montague - two very experienced runners with a strong pedigree behind them. They were followed by Harry Geddes who finished fourth here last year.
Out onto leg two as has become a bit of a trademark of this years races, Pete ran into the lead and forged ahead at a rapid pace, making quick work of the excellent conditions. By the 50 mile mark, Harry Geddes was up into second and looked like he was running the most comfortably of all the leading protagonists, the inevitable good and bad patches now flowing for each runner coming through.
The return section of leg three, just past the 100km mark saw Pete begin to show signs of suffering however, and Harry was able to take advantage of that, passing him a couple of miles from Goring to take the lead. A point from which he didn't look back. He surged through leg four and came home for his debut win in 14:52, a superb run and there is clearly much more to come from him.
Harry Geddes (Stuart March Photography)
Pete sadly dropped at mile 75 with a range of issues which were just mounting up. But he has had some year and again goes home from the 2022 season with two second places in our 100 milers.
Justin Montague has to win a couple of awards. Nicest guy on course but also most fearsome competitor. So many times he has had bad patches that were seemingly ending his race, only to surge through to a quite unbelievable recovery over the latter stages. This effort was classic Justin, having dropped from third to eighth at one stage, he ran a four hour final leg to finish in second. Third place went to Mark Lynch, winner of this years NDW100 and who also has quite the remarkable year behind him. We will recap his incredible exploits a little further down the report.
All in all 150 runners crossed the line out of a field of 234, a finish rate of 64% which was suprisingly low given the largely excellent conditions. 96 runners made it home inside the 24 hour cut off for the 100 Miles - One Day buckle.
A note on two ladies who really exemplified what grit and determination is required to finish 100 miles and why this distance is so much more difficult than our fifites. Katy Willcox and Hannah Goldring were in right at the back of the field off of leg three, facing 25 miles out to Reading and back. Both had separately found themselves walking almost the entire of that third leg because of injuries/ niggles and were initially adamant that there was no way either could finish. Hannah had so much at stake because this was the final section of her Grand Slam. Katy was wondering whether 'she just wasn't capable of being a 100 mile finisher'. Hannah asked when the minibus would be at the next check point to bring her back to Goring. But. With a little persuasion from staff and volunteers, they both finally decided to carry on out of the door, to get to Pangbourne and then see how they went.
By having the determination to just step out of the door onto that final leg, they put themselves back in a different place mentally. Hannah got the wind in her sails and put more and more time between her and the cut off, with every passing minute. She eventually crossed the line in 27:43, becoming the 21st and final Grand Slammer of 2022. Katy ran with the same grit and determination and crossed the line in 27:35 for her first 100 mile finish. It was a superb way to finish a fantastic weekend.
In the Age Group Categories, the following runners took home their prizes:
First FV40 went to Debbie Martin-Consani and first FV50 to Tamsin Neale in 20:28 in a new age category record.
First MV40 was Justin Montague, first MV50 was Mark Thompson in 19:33. First MV60 was Christopher Leech in 23:30 and first MV70 went to Ken Fancett, his tenth Autumn finish and his 94th all time 100 miler.
The Grand Slam of 100s wrapped up here and 21 finished the fourth and final race of their season. In the womens, Danielle Harris finished in the cumulative fastest time. Mark Lynch came home first in the mens standings. Mark also leads the 50 mile Grand Slam table going into the eighth and final race of his double grand slam season, Wendover Woods 50 in just under four weeks time. He has had the most remarkable year with the crowning moment being his win at the NDW100 back in August.
Thank you so much to all of our volunteers for making this such a special end to the year, we cannot do any of this without them and some of our community pulled some huge shifts over the race weekend. A wonderful occassion for all.
Stuart March Photography
Another stunning day greeted our runners for the seventh edition of the Chiltern Wonderland 50 mile. In 2022 we have now had eight of our ten events, and all have been blessed with great weather. We don't take it for granted!
The sunny day carried a little bit of a breeze which took the edge off of the effort on the steeper climbs, totalling a little over 5000ft around this 50 mile loop of the Chiltern Hills. To be completed under 13 hours and with a limited field size due to the remote nature of the route, the race attracts a loyal following with the vast majority returning year after year. In fact this years event had sold out all the way back in February 2022.
In the womens race, it was one runner who lit up the day and went on to set a remarkable record. Sophie Biggs had finished third at the North Downs Way 50 back in May, shattering the existing womens FV50 record in the process. She led this race from the gun, amassing a four minute lead by check point one. At every stage she stretched her lead over second place Natasha Mansell and third place Rachel Lindley. Her 7:55:08 winning time also won her the FV50 age category prize of course. But most remarkably makes her the fastest V50 runner of all time across genders. Natasha and Rachel ran great races also. Natasha held second all day and came home in a time of 8:23:18. Rachel was third in a time of 8:35:42.
Sophie Biggs, 2022 CW50 Womens Champion
In the mens race, things were much tighter throughout. A group of four ran together through the first half marathon or so. That group contained Paul Russhard who has been runner up or in the top ten countless times before at our events still yearning for his first win, Jacob James, Thomas Marchant and Oliver Walker. Oliver slipped back between CP1 and CP2, leaving the other three to duke it out. They stuck together right the way through Swyncombe at mile 33 and on down to Grims Ditch. In sight of the final aid station, a move was made and a counter offered, and it was Paul Russhard who had the legs to kick away. He charged for the line over the final 10 miles, gapping Jacob and Thomas at the rate of a minute a mile, to take his first Centurion win in seven hours flat. Jacob held off Thomas for second in 7:09:37, Thomas coming home less than two minutes later to round out the podium.
CW50 2022 Mens Podium: Thomas Marchant (third), Jacob James (second) and Paul Russhard (centre, winner). Photo c/o: Stuart March Photography
Amongst the Age Categories, the stand out performance was clear. Sophie Biggs who won the womens race set not only the fastest ever Womens V50 performance at this event, but also bettered any of the previous mens' ones too. First FV40 went to Rachel Lindley, also third overall. And we were delighted to welcome Nur Hooten over the line with just over 2 minutes to spare inside the cut off, our final finisher and first FV60.Final Finisher and first FV60: Nur Hooton. Photo c/o: Stuart March Photography
First MV40 went to Paul Russhard who won the mens race. First MV50 went to Mark Pinder in 8:19:58. First MV60 to Derek Humphrey in 9:00:15 and first MV70 to David Rootes in 11:30:56.
The race enjoyed a 93% finish rate inside of the 13 hour cut off, a tremendous return considering the objective difficulties of the course. A huge thank you as ever to the 55 volunteers that make the race possible. Many messages of thanks were received from grateful runners and passed along to the team.
Next up is our Autumn 100, back in Goring, in just under four weeks time.
Our original event back in 2011, the NDW100 is now in its twelfth year. Usually either blazing hot or incredibly wet, we seemed to continue our streak of good weather at events for this year, with a dry, warm but beautiful day, night and day again. This was our 48th 100 mile race and finally took us past the 10,000 starter and 7,000 finisher marks which have been looming for a while.
This is arguably our toughest regular season 100 miler, with the slowest on paper finish times, course records and lowest finish rates. The good conditions did not change any of those things, however we did see the highest ever finish percentage for this specific race, with 67% of the 219 starters making it home under the 30 hours. Testament as much as anything to the incredible support of the 105 strong volunteer team in doing everything in their power to assist the runners.
The womens race was a closely fought affair with the margins between the front runners often mere minutes, with the lead changing hands several times throughout the race.
Initially Tina Bergman led the way, but was forced to drop at CP3 a quarter of the way in with a knee problem. That left Linn Davies-Sahlström in the lead, with Anna Brown close behind. By Botley Hill at mile 43, Anna had crept ahead and she held a six minute lead through the 50 mile aid station at Knockholt Pound in 9:29.
The gap between the front two stretched to a maximum of 15 minutes at one stage, before Linn began to reel Anna in in the final quarter of the race, eventually passing her with just 10km to go. She held on for her debut Centurion win in a time of 21:35 with Anna picking up second in 21:48. Third place went to Samantha Lloyd who had held position from as far back as the 50km mark, in a time of 22:55.
In the mens race, Norwegian native Simen Holvik led the way early on with a sizeable group of five or six runners. The pace was relatively pedestrian for this event, but some would simply call that sensible given the arduousness of the course. He began to stretch away over the second quarter of the race, despite suffering a fall early on. Approaching the half way point, Peter Windross eventually passed him for the lead and came through Knockholt Pound in a familiar position (he led the race here in 2020 also), in 7:32 elapsed. Behind him Charles Pearson was having a good race leapfrogging from second to third and back again. But it was a storming Mark Lynch who has gradually improved over many years of running our events, who impressed over the second half. Like Linn, he ran his way to the front, passing Peter with only 20 miles to go and held on there for the win in a time of 16:52. A great way to celebrate his 43rd birthday.
Mark Lynch (Photo: Stuart March)
Peter rode the rollercoaster and impressed everyone by finishing strong in 16:59 despite suffering a range of issues. Third place was taken by Charles Pearson in his debut 100 in an impressive time of 17:28. At 24 and a blazing fast short distance road background he clearly has a lot of potential in the sport.
The stories always run deep in the 100s. Some special mentions are required. Firstly, to John Fanshawe. After setting a new V75 100 mile world record in 2021, he came to this event and became our oldest finisher of any race, at 76 years young. His time of 28:35:10 almost beggars belief. As with Ken Fancett we are seeing a world class athlete running these races. John travels to the Spine in January. Speaking of Ken, he finished his 92nd 100 miler, his 10th NDW100 and his 37th 100 miler with us, this weekend, on his way to winning his age category.
John Fanshawe at 76 our oldest ever finisher (Photo: Stuart March)
Age Cat winners were as follows:
First FV40 was race winner Linn. First FV50 went to Sam Lloyd in 22:55, a new Age Cat Record.
First MV40 was race winner Mark. First FV50 Peter Windross in second. First MV60 went to Ronald Davies in 25:36. Ken won the MV70 category.
It was a pleasure to welcome Hannah Hall who volunteered at Box Hill in 2011 when we held our first race here as an out and back from Farnham. It is wonderful to see faces from our early days still around in our community.
A huge thank you to all of our volunteers as ever, 105 of them made this event possible.
The third edition of this special little event took place this past Saturday night. Runners get to experience Wendover Woods all to themselves, starting off their three lap journey of the hilly trail and woodland course around the closed forest at 9pm. They have 9 and half hours to complete the 50km.
Lap one is always fast and frenetic, with sunset just around start time, they head off into the gloaming and within a few miles headtorches are switched on, picking out the reflective markings which sign their way.
The ladies race was a close fought affair. Suzy Whatmough led from wire to wire and was never directly challenged on her path to a 5:38:10, new course record. But behind her there was a great tussle for the podium places. Fourth early on, Jennifer Sangster held second through the end of loop one through to the middle of loop three, before Sarah Sawyer passed her in the final miles to finish second in 5:50. Jennifer took third in 5:52 and Ally Whitlock who had been up into third on occasion, fourth in 6:07.
Suzy Whatmough (Stuart March Photography)
The mens race was a different affair as Matt Hammerton also led from wire to wire, but ran away from all of his competition to come home with an enormous margin of victory. His winning time was another course record 4:27:17. Second place went to Chris Starling in 5:01 flat and third to Brett Waters in 5:04:20.
Age Category awards were as follows:
FV40 to Sarah Sawyer, FV50 to Maree Jesson in 7:07. MV40 to Matt Hammerton the mens winner. MV50 to Ivor Hewitt in 5:44 and MV60 to Kevin Wardell in 6:55.
Second place Sarah Sawyer with husband Tom Sawyer (Stuart March Photography)
This race will be back in July 2023, as part of an expanded festival of running alongside 10, 50 and 100 mile races on the same loop. See further details here.
A huge thanks as ever to our incredible volunteer team who worked from 1400 on Saturday through to 0730 Sunday to get this event away with us. It was a magical night!
The Hale Lane Check Point Volunteer Team (Laure Selle)
The tenth South Downs Way 100 was blessed with close to ideal conditions. 405 runners met at the incredible natural amphitheatre that is Matterley Bowl for the start of the tenth edition of this race.
2022 SDW100 Recap Video (By Steve Ashworth)
Amongst the starting line up were a few people who deserve special mention.
Mark Perkins the mens course record holder from way back in 2014, came back to race having been out of the sport with an injury for the last seven years. His aim was simply to complete the distance, but it was a wonderful thing indeed to see him back.
Elaine Battson had run and finished all nine previous editions and was going for her ten in a row.
But before all the grown up running, the pinnacle event of the year took place, the SDW1 Kids Mile Race which kicked off close to bed time at 1830 on the Friday. Our intrepid young explorers made their own loop of the bowl, ages ranging from 18 months to 11 years and some stunning performances all around to inspire the bigger kids for the morning.
SDW1 (Photos: Steve Ashworth)
On Saturday morning the question hanging over the race at the sharp end was over which record was under most threat. Mark Perkins' 14:03 for the men or Jean Beaumonts 16:56 for the women. Both 8 and 9 years old respectively.
In the womens race it was Bethan Male, winner of the SDW50 earlier this year in what was very much a stepping stone to this her main target, who immediately set the pace at the front. All day, she tracked almost identical splits to Jeans record, initially just a few minutes behind, recording the same time leaving Washington, before gradually edging ahead as she reached the final third. Then leaving us all on the edge of our seats coming off of the trig point with 2.7 miles to go. A lot of 'she should be ok' reassuring nods were passed around on the finish line - and indeed she was. Crossing the line in 16:49 for a new course record. We've spoken before about the level of performance required to take down a course record over a long established race. The SDW100 has had many top class female athletes run well here over ten years, so Bethan's achievement is a very special one indeed.
Bethan Male (Photo: Leonard Martin)
Second place in the ladies race went to Ellie Baverstock who ran something of a break through performance here, with a 17:37. Again a very consistent day from Ellie who ran in third for the first quarter of the race behind Bethan and Jackie Stretton who unfortunately eventually dropped, before moving up to second and staying there throughout.
Third place went to Alice Robinson, the 2021 Champion who came home in 18:12, an improvement of 36 minutes over her winning time last year.
In the mens race, in a style not dissimilar to Bethan, Richard Mcdowell ran off of the front and stayed there for the duration. His day was slightly less smooth than Bethan's however just down to a few minor issues that seemed to handicap him slightly throughout. Richard won the TP100 last year with a course record 13:43 and has abundantly more pace than anyone in the field behind making him a clear pre-race favourite but he was up against a strong field this year and it was not all plain sailing.
His lead stretched initially as he ran well, crewed where he could be and running straight through most the check points. But coming in slightly undertrained and up against a warm day with a few kit (he had made his own rear pocket, sewn into his shorts to keep all of his mandatory gear) and footwear issues, he just wasn't quite on the splits he'd hoped over the first half, initially well ahead of course record pace before slipping back to on it for half way / into Washington check point and then dropping behind over the second half. One thing he continues to show is a huge amount of grit however, evidenced by the way he suffered to his TP100 win last year. There wasn't really ever a doubt he would get the job done and get it done he did, in a winning time of 14:49.
Like Bethan however, he was also pursued by last years champion Peter Windross who started out much more conservatively and ran from 25th at check point one, to finish second just 16 minutes back by the end. Chris Kelly ran extremely well over the first three quarters of the race holding second throughout, consistently around 20 minutes behind Richard. He slipped behind Peter just after Housedean and eventually faded over the final 15 miles but held on for third in 15:53.
In the Age Categories, much excitement was held for the first 20 plus hours of the race as Marion Hemsworth looked set to become not only the first Vet 70 Female finisher of one of our 100s, but in fact of any of our events. It was agonising to see her slip behind pace and eventually be cut off at Housedean with 24 miles ago. Hopefully we see her back again and that she inspires others in that category to step up and become the first.
First FV40 went to Jane McCarthy in 20:29. First FV50 to Claire Howard in 20:09 which lowered the previous FV50 record from 21:26, set by Di Roy all the way back in 2015. A huge improvement.
First MV40 went to Richard McDowell the race winner and MV50 to Peter Windross in second overall - bettering his own MV50 category record from 2021. First MV60 went to Tony Brooks in 22:41 and first MV70 went of course to Ken Fancett in 22:58, bettering his own MV70 record by almost two hours. Ken is very much back on form this year.
301 finishers gave us a 74% finish rate which is much higher than the 67% average for our 100 milers over all time. Excellent conditions helped with that rate. The final finisher Caroline Crouchman left us nervous but ultimately fulfilled with her 29:56:50 finish giving her a little over 3 minutes to spare.
Caroline Crouchman (Stuart March Photography)
Elaine Battson did finish her tenth consecutive SDW100. And Mark Perkins gave us perhaps the most emotional moment at the finish line as he crossed it in a time of 20:52, elated to be back in the sport. As he said afterwards, his choice from here is dictated by his desire to train and race and not any more by the injury that seemed insurmountable. There is a message for us all in enduring, there.
Elaine Battson (Stuart March Photography)
Mark Perkins and his wife and pacer Sarah (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
We had 120 volunteers out on course for this weekend. Plus 15 Staff, our race medics and all the support infrastructure around it. It is our biggest race and feels it but because of the volunteers, always retains that feeling of being around a special community for the weekend.
Thank you to everyone for making this another safe and successful edition.
Stuart March Photography
Stuart March Photography
North Downs Way 50 race day usually dawns bright and sunny, giving a chance for runners to head out and truly enjoy some of the best mixed trails to be found in the South East. This edition delivered exactly that for our intrepid band of runners who arrived in Farnham early on Saturday morning to start their 50 mile adventure, east to Knockholt Pound along the North Downs Way.
279 made this our second largest of eleven editions and at the front of the race, both the womens and mens overall places were hotly contested battles, right through to the finish.
The womens race kicked off with a fast early start from previous SDW50 champion Sarah Hill. She led the pace through to the half way mark, followed closely by Amy-Jo Clarke, Jennifer Sangster, Sophie Biggs and Nicola Soraghan. In the end, all five were still duking out for the overall positions through to the final miles. Sarah slowed after the climb up Box Hill and was passed by Jennifer and then Amy-Jo. Less than a minute separated those two through Reigate Hill at 50km and through Caterham mile 38. It was only entering the final 10 miles that Amy-Jo was finally able to pull clear, but that she did and finished in style, gapping the rest of the field in the process to come home in 8:06 for the win.
Jennifer faded in the final stages, not assissted by a small detour just a few miles from the finish which left Nicola Soraghan, who finished in very strong fashion, to run her way into second in a time of 8:20. Third place went to Sophie Biggs just six minutes further back.
The mens race was equally as close. Despite the 2022 SDW50 champion Luke Davies also lining up to race here, it was Ed Knudsen who came in as the pre-race favourite.
Ed is a really conistent performer over this distance and has previously run home winner of the Chiltern Wonderland 50. Through the early part of the race he ran out in front, with Sam Harper running in his first 50 miler, leapfrogging or alongside. The two were together on the climb up Box Hill before Ed pulled out a small margin over the following miles. Sam dropped back a little and was replaced in second by Daniel Weller who then began to close on Ed. Ed admitted that, out in front, he tried to enjoy the day a little more and relaxed, taking things a bit easier than perhaps he should have. Coming into Botley Hill aid station at mile 43, Daniel was less than a minute behind and Ed needed to get his game together. That he did and he ran home for the win in 6:55. Daniel held on for a very strong second in 7:00 and third went to Sam Harper who had a fantastic first 50 overall, finishing in 7:13.
In the age groups, the FV40 category was won by Jennifer Sangster in 8:35. First FV50 went to Sophie Biggs who was third overall in new age category record of 8:28 - a substantial achievement, taking 20 minutes off of the previous best. First FV60 went to to Claudie Combelas in 12:28. That's two consecutive races with FV60 finishers. Long may that continue.
First MV40 was Rob Feline in 7:38. First MV50 was Mark Thomas in 8:54. First MV60 was Chris Finill in 9:12, Chris is one of the 7 ever-presents at the London Marathon having run every edition of that race. First MV70 was Ken Fancett in 10:25 who was extremely disappointed in his performance, but became the first MV70 to finish this event. Behind him, David Rootes also finished in the same age category - fantastic to see.
Debra Bourne also deserves a mention for finishing her 100th ultra here. The more remarkable part however, is that she has a 100% finish record in that 100 events. Not many people can lay claim to that kind of consistency.
70 volunteers made the day the special one it was. We always get a good turn out on the trail for this one and as our first ever event it remains a very special one to us.
Stuart March Photography
Stuart March Photography
A beautiful weekend to be out on the river, the eleventh edition of the TP100 was a far cry weather wise, from the rain soaked 2021 race. Kicking off the report, here's a quick snapshot of the weekend from our man with the camera, Steve Ashworth.
There is always something to cause that little bit of last minute stress with a 100 miler and instead of the weather this time, it was an enforced diversion just after the half way mark. The Environment Agency had closed the footbridge between Henley and Shiplake on the Friday afternoon, with no warning. So a 2.5 mile diversion was added at the last minute. However, it cut 1 mile of the regular TP off and we were able to shave another 0.5 miles on the entry to Home Park in Windsor with the re-opening of a previously blocked path. Reducing the extra mileage to just over 1 in total. Most shrugged and laughed, some were very concerned of course. But this is the essence of trail racing. One must finish the course and not the distance. It is never EVER 100.00 miles. Except maybe once. The extra mile is of course, free of charge (the course is usually 101 miles anyway).
At 0930, the runners lined up on a sunny riverside scene in Richmond and it was wonderful to have a mass start back together at this race, it is a great occassion.
The womens race provided amazing entertainment from start to finish. At the front were Zoe Murphy - previous Autumn 100 champion and Ingrid Lid, who had finished second here previously and has subsequently gone on to lower her 100 mile PB to 15:10 as she has steadily improved.
Both were in amongst the lead group of half a dozen runners from the start, setting a blistering pace. Ingrid Led the early miles before Zoe put in a big effort between Wraysbury at mile 22 and Dorney the 50km mark to run into the lead. The gap between them remainded under 10 minutes all the way to Henley and the 'half way' point of the race where Zoe's 7:12 elapsed was good for a 12 minute lead. Both were clearly working hard in the warm afternoon conditions but seemed to be under control as the potential for a new course record (Sam Amend's 16:00) began to increase. Behind Zoe and Ingrid however, sat Ali Young, one of the UK's most consistent performers over the longer flatter distances in recent years.
Into the second half, Zoe's gap grew slightly on Ingrid to Goring/ Mile 70 but after that, her pace dropped right off as she faltered. Ingrid was slowing too but not to the same degree and at Clifton Hampden with 15 miles to go, the gap was down to just 6 minutes. That seemed to be all the impetus that Zoe required however, as she dug deep to increase her pace again and found a very strong push over the last 10km to come home in 16:16, the second fastest ever time on this course. Ingrid held her steady second half pace through to the end and came home in 16:44. Ali Young also hit some trouble in the final third but held on for third in 17:38.
The mens race was a very different affair. We always see an incredibly fast start here and this time was no different, with several guys running a low 7 minute mile pace for the first half marathon. It is flat and mainly paved and it is just too tempting for many, not to hammer those early miles. But very rarely do we see that pay dividends towards even the second half of the race. So it was again this time with one runner, Tristan Stephenson, coming through to dominate the day.
Tristan was second at the Arc of Attrition earlier this year and had a very matter of fact approach to this race. He really focused on two things - even paced effort as far as possible and a tilt at Richard Mcdowell's 13:43 course record from the year before. The diversion after Henley added a mile to the course and that was clearly a factor but Tris factored that in and took it in his stride.
Initially he ran just inside the top ten, but by the marathon mark he was through the pack who were fading already and held his steady pace, set for the day. Metronomic, he came through half way in 6:38, absolutely miles outside of Rich Mcdowell's record splits but cognisant of the fact that Rich faded in the second half. Tristan's plan was to quite simply, not do that. A slight foot issue and a stomach that wasn't as co-operative as it could have been were seemingly the only things that stood in his way. That caused him to slow slightly over the last 50km but most of his miles were still regularly under 9 minute pace and it was clear the record was going to be a close run thing. His competition by this stage were already over 10km in arrears. In the end, he crossed the line just underneath the 14 hour mark with a 13:59:38 for his efforts. With the diversion it was clear he would have been closer to Richard's time but perhaps not under it given the overall difference of a mile, What would have been incredible would have been for the two to have raced each other on the ground. Perhaps some other time!!!
Julien Cazorla went off fast and rightly so given his continual improvement to a 15:02 at the A100 last year. He held second place from CP2 all the way to the finish and whilst he did not have a dream day, his 15:56 was good enough for another podium. Third place went to Tom Kingham in 16:18 who contrary to most of the faster guys, did pace well over the duration. From 15th at CP1 to 3rd by the end.
FV40 went to Ali Young in 17:38. FV50 to Maree Jesson in 21:31 and for the first time in many years we had an FV60 finisher - Jan Payne in 27:33.
Jan Payne with Robert Treadwell
MV40 went to second placed overall, Julien Cazorla. MV50 to Will Raybould in 17:54. First MV60 was Christopher Leech in 25:32. We had two MV70 finishers which is unusual in one event. The lead home was Ken Fancett in 22:25, just outside of his own record. This was Kens tenth TP100, his 35th 100 mile finish with us and 90th all time 100 mile finish.
One other fascinating result from the day came from Stewart Dutfield. Finishing close to the cut off in 27:32, he seemed unassuming in his finish, but pleased to make it. Ultrarunning historian Andy Milroy contacted us after the race to let us know that Stewart jumped from 10th to 1st on a very special all time list with this finish, however - the longest duration of any 100 mile career on record. Stewart's first 100 mile finish came 44.93 years ago. We will endeavour to find out more about this incredible devotion to the sport!
Thanks as ever to the 100+ volunteers and staff that made this another successful, safe and well received 100 mile weekend on the Thames.
Stuart March Photography
Stuart March Photography
Stuart March Photography
Stuart March Photography
The 2022 Track 100 marked the third edition of this event and it seemed it would be close to an impossible task to better the 2021 race for athlete success. Obviously back then we were just a few weeks out of full lockdown here in the UK and the protocols that were required to keep everybody safe were substantial. But the effort was worth it as Aleksandr Sorokin blitzed through 100 miles in 11:14 setting a new World Record, before continuing on to the 12 Hour mark to set a new World Best there too. In the womens race, Sam Amend set a new British Womens 100 Mile Record of 14:34. A total of 14 new World, Continental and National Bests were achieved.
Rolling on to this year, the field had improved up a notch again and the anticipation coming into it was enormous. Aleksandr was back, this time targetting the 100km distance. As he already held every record from 100 mile through to 24 Hour, it seemed to be a huge ask for him to shoot for the World Record of 6:09. That kind of range in ultra running, 6 hour through to 24 hour has not been seen for nearly 70 years when Wally Hayward held 100km, 100 mile and 24 hour marks in 1953.
In the womens race we welcomed two world class international athletes. Camille Herron from the USA, like Aleksandr, came in holding 100 mile, 12 hour and 24 hour world records. Dominika Stelmach from Poland, the fourth fastest 100km runner of all time, with top ten all time 50km marks to her name was there to challenge over 6 and 12 hours. Would the two end up duelling it out and taking records to new heights?
The remainder of the field contained the best of British athletes including Sam Amend, back to improve on her existing record. Plus one Frenchman, Thomas Lepers focused on the 12 hour distance.
To top it all off, we welcomed Claudia Burrough to the race, aiming to become the first wheelchair athlete to set marks from 50km upwards in such a setting. Truly pioneering a new area for the sport in the process.
Camille Herron early in the race (Steve Ashworth)
Race day dawned bright, temperatures around 8 degrees rising to 15 through the day, but with a cruel wind that stayed steady at around 15mph, gusting up to double that. Out of the gusts things felt manageable but the gusts were frequent and became more so, making the runners' lives more difficult as the day wore on.
Straight out of the gate, Aleksandr dropped into running the 1:29 per lap/ 5:56 per mile pace he required to go through the 100km mark in 6:09. In fact, every lap he increased his margin over the record by a second or two ranging between a 1:25 fastest and 1:29 slowest. It was metronomic, much like his 2021 run and beyond inspiring to watch. Crewed by his brother Maksim who was certainly the most relaxed person at the track, the clock slowly wound away and Aleksandr remained on pace. His 50km mark at 3:01 was a new Lithuanian National Record. His 50 mile split of 4:53 good enough for fourth fastest all-time and just 13 seconds away from Don Ritchie's split when he set the previous World Record of 6:10, a record many of us still viewed as the one to beat. Aleksandr just didn't fade. He went through 98.496km in 6 hours which was a new World Record again taken from Don. Before he tore through the line in 6:05:41 to take four minutes off of the existing world record. He looked relatively fresh at the finish.
Aleksandr Running Through His Bell Lap (Steve Ashworth)
Never have we seen range like this and marks get broken by such margins by one man. What comes next, we can only wonder.
In the womens race it was Dominika Stelmach who led the charge. She set a blistering pace from the gun, showing her 50km pedigree. It was clear from early on that she was going to be around the 50 mile world record mark of 5:40 and the 6 hour world record mark on the same pace of 6:56 per mile. She gapped the rest of the womens field by a substantial margin, including Camille.
Dominika Stelmach (Steve Ashworth)
But the pace began to slip at around four hours in and the margin under the 50 mile and 6 hour open world record marks, slipped away. She did hold on for a new World FV40 50 mile record of 5:51:28 however, before running through to a new FV40 6 hour world record of 82.217km.
At this point Camille was just 3 kilometres behind and setting new USATF National records in the process including a new 6hr US Open record of 79.035km.
The gap between the two began to shrink at this point as Dominika slowed, seemingly having a tough time in the wind, with Camille remaining near metronomic in her pacing much like Aleksandr.
Camille passed Dominika just a few laps before the 100km mark where she set a new USATF FV40 record of 7:39. With Dominika just a minute back in 7:40. At that point, Dominika called it a day which left Camille running against only herself for the 12 hour and 100 mile marks.
Alas, it wasn't to be and on a day when she felt things never quite clicked for her energy wise, she made the decision to call it a day and save her efforts for Western States in 9 weeks time. Camille set a total of four US National Records. Dominika two World FV40 and two Polish National Open records.
Around the six to eight hour time frame, athletes began tumbling from the running. From the 15 starters, Peter Abraham, James Stewart, Cat Simpson, Jo Zakrzewksi and Ian Hammett all called time on their races early. And with Aleks, Camille and Dominika all out before the 10 hour mark, there was a gap before the best of British and our lone Frenchman would reach their 12 hour and 100 mile targets. Peter Windross also stopped prior to the 12 hour mark having gone out hard. He did manage to scoop a new MV50 British record over 6 hours of a hair over 82km however.
Alex Whearity (Steve Ashworth)
In the mens race, Alex Whearity had gone out hard and was gradually fading but fading only to what was still a phenomenal time. His 50 mile in 5:49 and 100km mark of 7:31 were solid to say the least. He never really looked in doubt to get it done. He eventually ran home the 100 mile race mens winner in 12:42:04 to post the 11th fastest ever British 100 mile time. The only other man to make it to the 100 mile mark was Mike Stocks. Back for retribution after his 2021 run ended early, Mike set a new IAU MV50 record of 13:41:19. There are two other V50 marks faster than his which are pending ratification so it won't be clear until they are processed if Mike has earned that World Best, or top three all-time. All the same a sensational run.
In the Womens race, Samantha Amend blew everyone away, just three weeks after finishing second at the British 100km Championships by running through to a 12 hour British record of 140.310km and holding on for a huge improvement in her own British 100 mile record of 14:10:51. Along the way she also improved the British womens FV40 50 mile mark to 6:36:27.
Sam Amend (Steve Ashworth)
Final finisher in the womens race was Eloise Eccles who ran one of the most conistent races of the day to finish in 15:36:31. Good enough for the 15th fastest British all-time 100 mile.
In a race all of her own, easily up there with any of the other performances of the day, was Claudia Burrough. Claudia had covered 100 miles in a chair before during the 2020 lockdown when she clocked a time of 15:20 in our virtual event. But this was the first time she had properly raced the distance. In fact from everything Claudia, ourselves and the British Wheelchair Racing Association can glean, she set new benchmarks at every distance on route. It was not all plain sailing. The strength and resilience she showed as her back began to seize up and her fingers generated enormous blisters under her gloves, was truly astonishing. At one point on the way to 100km in 8:45 she had a longer stop. But as she got past that mark, a renewed focus clearly established and she never looked back. Her 100 mile time of 14:44:13 should rightly blow everyones minds. What a privilege it was to watch somebody dig as deep on the path to pioneering a completely unknown area for the sport.
Claudia Burrough (Steve Ashworth)
Thank you's are needed in abundance for this race. It is a huge undertaking for just 15 athletes. On the day we welcomed six officials including the General Secretary of the IAU, Hilary Walker to oversee the race. 20 volunteers manned the check point and looked after the crews and runners. Seven staff. Our media team. The spectators who made it feel like the special day it was and everyone at Bedford International Stadium, we thank you.
Details for 2023 are already available here. We can't wait to see what this event holds in store next time around.
Race day for this tenth edition of the South Downs Way 50 dawned cold and crisp, with bright blue skies and the promise of a spectacular day running along this very special course.
This was the first mass start of a larger field since 2019. The first time our pop up store had been back at a race since that year. The first time we were back to the buzz and excitement of the community truly being able to interact 'normally' once again and what a relief it was. The sense of community spirit has never been stronger than this weekend and what a wonderful occasion it was.
378 runners struck out at 0830 and 80 volunteers were on hand to support their every need.
The mens race looked closer on paper than it had done in the run up as Hoka athlete Harry Jones was a late non-starter. The womens race was clearly going to be contended by a number of leading lights. Both fields delivered exciting racing down to the wire.
Unfortunately whilst the fastest out of the gate made the right turns, a group of nine went straight on a little past Cissbury Ring, rejoined the course 3.7 miles further along than they should have done and hence the race on the ground was flipped on its head. The nine were told at Check Point 1 of the error and that unforutnately they would be facing a time penalty but could continue. To their temendous credit, all took the news in good grace. Quickly they became known as the Naughty Nine and much banter was had at the check points along the way as they came through.
Gradually the top men and the leading lady on the ground, Bethan Male, ran past the nine and the true race for positions unfolded.
The womens race was a runaway for Beth. She cruised home in 7:12:25 in what was a fantastic tune up for the SDW100 in June. She must surely be hoping to take a dip at Jean Beaumonts now nine year old course record.
Bethan Male (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
2021 Champion Sarah Hill and La Sportiva athlete Anna-Marie Watson were two of the nine to take the detour, which was such a shame as they were obviously two of the likely contenders for the podium. Their 60 minute penalties meant that they were out of the running. Stacey Sangster took second in 7:48. Third place went to Dani Battersby who ran on to the track about 10 metres in front of fourth placed Claire Kanja. It was only then that they were told they were third and fourth due to time penalties ahead, it made for quite the exciting final 400 metres.
In the mens race, Luke Davis who ran a solid race here last year, took it to the next level and ran home for the win in 6:49:10. Second went to Stuart Farmer who crossed the line under 2 minutes later, having entered the track with Luke still to finish. We love to see finishes where two people are duking it out on the track at the same time. Third went to the improving Guy Hudson in 6:52. The top ten guys were spread over a period of just 22 minutes.
Luke Davis (Photo: Stuart March Photography)
In the Age Categories, MV40 went to Stuart Farmer also second overall. MV50 to the now world famous Thai Cave Rescue Diver Jon Volanthen (friend of the show) in 8:20. MV60 to Phil Hoy in 9 hours flat and MV70 to David Rootes in 11:54.
FV40 went to Stacey Sangster in second overall and FV50 to Lisa Blayden in 10:11.
In total 353 runners made it over the line out of 378 starters for a 93% finisher rate. Pretty amazing stats overall.
Thank you so much as ever to our wonderful team of volunteers who allowed this season opener to go so smoothly.
One Slam came back for 2022 as the only virtual event we retained after the 'end' of most of the covid restrictions here in the UK. All of the virtual events that we held prior to this one, were across periods of lock-down or where restrictions prevented in-person events from happening.
But one of the silver linings of the pandemic for us, was an ability to reach our community a different way, a way to involve a much broader spectrum of runners. For all sorts of reasons our events are not accesible to all. Either through geography, distance or age limits, many people simply cannot or will not ever be able to run one of our races. But they can take on something like the One Slam and be part of something special involving our community remotely.
We looked at the Slam as kind of 'pre-season training'. As runners ourselves, we got so much out of the experience of the two month long initial slam which ran February through March 2021. By extending it and adding other distance options we tried to engage an even broader audience this time and that seemed to work well.
598 runners took part in one of the five distances on offer, from 100 to 1000 miles over 100 days. What a journey it was. The Bolt On events gave us some additional focus at regular points along the way and most of the runners took part in at least one of the five challenges.
Several things make this event so fulfilling despite it's unique and almost exclusively remote set-up. People sharing how much faster and stronger they have got through the consistent running that this challenge requires. Watching people aged 4 to 84 taking part in one of our events and achieving such a tremendous long term ambition. Plus of course on the charity side, this event raised £2500 spread across NHS Charities Together and MIND. Two causes which have been the recipients of our virtual event takings on each occasion since the initial One Community event in May 2020.
We will hold this again in 2023, possibly with some minor changes and we'll be asking our 2022 runners what they would like to see in terms of the Bolt Ons and Distances on offer, so that we can continue to refine this and give people the maximum benefit from taking something unique like this on.
Thank you to all who took part and we hope you go on to your best ever athletic year after the foundation that the Slam provided!
Project Pillock: Kate Anna-Louise Jayden and Gareth Allen with Jonathan Rolinson
Bradley Joel Earwaker
Graham Carter and Zoe Norman
Gabrielle Yates and Verity Tudor
With great thanks to all of our runners for keeping the One Community Weeks going. This time, Storm Dudley and then Eunice made the going towards the end of the week, extremely tough for most people in the UK! With many having to stay indoors through Red Alerts for one or more days. But persevere we did, as a community as ever!
Funds raised were divided between MIND and NHS Charities Together. With 35 Trees planted with Trees not Tees, on behalf of runners foregoing awards.
A selection of pictures taken by runners during the week are below. Until the next time....
From: Susie Blunt
Linn Erixon Sahlstrom