British 100K Championships / Anglo Celtic Plate (race review)
I’ll keep it brief.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to be racing for my country at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100K and British National Championships in Gravesend.
The 100K road race is a funny one on today’s ultra scene but if you look into the history books (or speak to the human athletics wikipedia A. Stott) it’s a bit of a legendary format – the longest distance road race recognised by British Athletics (sadly). It’s far from my normal cup of tea and if I’m honest I didn’t feel hugely excited about the thought of nearly 50 laps on a 2K tarmac loop coming off the back of an amazing week in the Alps at the Runners Refuge (blog to follow). Don’t get me wrong – it was an honour to represent my country and I wasn’t going to go at it half-heartedly.
The Scotland team flew down on Friday afternoon with a longer drive than we hoped at the other end. Sadly we didn’t have a full team due to a number of injuries (and other race commitments). Ian Symington was in the squad once again after his debut in Perth the previous year and some great performances already this year. So too was Dr. Andrew Murray (@docandrewmurray) who was tackling a different challenge to his normal ultra globe-trotting. Some speedy marathon performances showed that he was certainly on racing form. The women’s team was made up only of one – but no-less-than double West Highland Way champion Rosie Bell (with her on-going supporter and husband Alan). To keep us all in check, Adrian Stott and Valerie Macauley were ever-present and looked after us incredibly well. No doubting at all their experience in keeping runners on track and moving.
As we were late arriving we had to cram in some food in the car rather than wait until after 9pm for a sit-down pre-race meal. Before I knew it Andrew and I were trying to sort out our race stuff for the next day before hitting the sack in prep for the early start.
Race started just after 8am and it was all pretty straightforward for the first 50K. I ran with Andrew and we chatted on and off as well as thanking the marshalls for every piece of encouragement and support they gave. I stuck to my pace plan as best I could, concerned more about going too fast rather than too slowly.
It was really hot at times but the drinks and feed plan really worked well. It’s the first race I’ve stayed away from the gels based on recommendations from Dr. Stacy Sims, the brain behind the new (to the UK) Osmo active hydration powders. I’d been testing them since before Christmas and was confident that it would provide what I needed without causing any stomach problems over 7 or 8 hours of racing.
Food was solids (homemade energy ‘balls’ and HoneyStinger bars and waffles) and semi-solids (HoneyStinger chews) with the odd half-banana. All went very smoothly indeed. In fact, the only real issue I had were the ever-refilling blisters on the balls of my feet that had started developing in the first hour. I had debated for a while about what to do. Stop and try some kind of repair, or live with it, push on and not waste any time? I made a decision, pushed on and asked for some Paracetamol. Seems I have some feet issues only when racing on tarmac. Strange.
The time (and distance) passed relatively quickly. Overall I felt good and I split from Andrew with about 20 laps to go. Steve Way passed a number of times on his was to breaking the British Road record and I yo-yo’d with a couple of the English team for a few laps. There was no leaderboard that I could see so it was hard at times to know where you were in the race. But with about 8 laps to go I was pretty confident I would finish in 3rd and could get a reasonable time (certainly an improvement on my first 100K in Perth the year before).
Last couple of laps I pushed on and I was happy to cross the finish line in just over 7 hours and 10mins (almost 25mins up on the previous year). A bronze medal in the British Championships, Scottish 100K Champion and a GB qualifying time for the World Championships in Qatar was a pretty decent day indeed. I’m no great road runner.
Andrew and Ian came in soon after, both with cracking 100K times. The Plate would be returning to England but the small team that we had, certainly made a big impression. Rosie Bell managed to run in comfortably under 9 hours on her Scotland 100K debut – a fantastic time, and I’m sure , with plenty more to come.
Huge thanks to the race organisers and the marshalls / support around the course. Some people shouted encouragement on every single lap and I appreciated every word of it.
Adrian, Val and Alan were awesome. Felt like a real team in such a short space of time.
Andrew, Ian and Rosie – was brilliant to meet, chat, share a race, laugh and run. Hope to do it again. Let’s try it on a trail next time 😉