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Welcome to my blog which I hope to develop with some interesting material on ultra running both on the trails and road including reports on races and interesting training runs, views on kit and equipment as well as anything else I find of interest. I love running for adventure, opportunity and well being. Enjoy!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Celtic 100k/ Anglo Celtic Plate Race 2009 (100km)

Wow, not too sure where to start with this one!

I’ve now had a day or two to reflect on Saturday’s events but the reality is that it hasn’t really sunk in yet. It will probably take quite a while. In fact, I’m struggling to string meaningful thoughts together being pretty exhausted, but I’ll have a go whilst it’s fresh in the mind.

Since the Edinburgh 100km in May 2007 it’s been my ultimate aim to run under seven hours for the 100km. The sub-7 club is one with few members, particularly from the UK over the last 10 years or so. On Saturday I had one of those dream runs, it all came together, I felt strong from start to finish, I had a great second half and ultimately I did it – i’m in the club!

The event itself was superb, not surprising given the experience and enthusiasm of Race Director, Richard Donavon. Richard is also RD for the North Pole and Ice Antarctic Marathons as well as being a multi-record holder for extreme running. The general consensus was that it was the best Anglo Celtic Plate race in the event’s history and from my experience I wouldn’t argue with that. Fittingly, the race also drew a top class field. There were plenty of top names from the various home nations as well as from Germany who sent a development team which included the German trail running champion amongst others.

Dawn on Saturday brought a change to the weather from the preceding week. We arrived in Galway on Friday lunchtime to cloud, wind and showers but race day was perfect from my perspective; cool but sunny with a moderate breeze and occasional showers. A good omen?

Fifty or so toe-ed the start line. There was a clear apprehension amongst the runners to get started but once the hooter had gone, there wasn’t much option. My plan was to run a conservative first 50km, then see what happens in the second half – simple as that. No pressure, no frills. ‘Feel good at fifty’ was my pre-race mantra; get to half way with plenty left in the tank. I ran with England team mate and last year’s winner, Dominic Croft, for most of the first 50km. We ran fairly evenly, I was targeting splits of 8min 24 second per 2km/ 42minute per 10km and Dom was hoping for a touch quicker however the pace seemed to work well for both of us and we ran well together, carrying each other through the early stages.

As we approached 50km Marcus Scotney and Allen Smalls started to speed up and close us down but it was myself and Dom at the front at the 50km stage in a time just a smidgen under 3hrs 30mins. Spot on. Thereafter all four of us had spells at the front and it was then that the drama started to unfold. After the race one member of the England support team likened the race me to a game of chess, and in many respects it was. My target was to maintain an even pace, but the other lads seemed to have plans to shake it up a bit. Marcus seemed the keenest to push on, and eventually did, at one point putting a minute or so on me. Allen made a similar push at one point, but soon the cumulative distance started to play a part causing rough spells for us all. Eventually, at around the 65km point, I started to find a strong rhythm which allowed me to pick the pace up when the others were slowing which was the start of a fast and furious spell that brought a possible sub-7 performance into the equation.

Having not thought about it pre-race various thoughts and emotions were spinning round my head. What if I hit the rocks? What if I push too much too early? Don’t throw away this golden opportunity! Well I realised those were things I could control so I made sure I did. Keep drinking, keep taking the gels, don’t push too hard too early and most importantly don’t blow it. I was constantly trying to stay focused but at the same time trying to run some calculations in my head. Well what a waste of time that was. I’m usually quite good at maths, but after 5 hours running at 6.45/mile pace my head wasn’t in gear. So I put I a request to the support team - let me know when there is 20km to go.

The notification duly came and at the 80km point I was about one minute inside sub-7 pace. I had 1 hr 25mins to complete the final 20km. We’re on! Retaining composure was the hardest part towards the end. The thought of achieving my sub-7 goal made me feel emotional. I had dreamed about it for so long, put so much physical and mental effort into the race and been thinking about the people who I was running strong for along the way. My running rhythm was also better than it’s ever been, and my focus was clear, I had to do it.

The final lap count down at the end was inevitable, something I had fought to avoid doing over the course of the race, my body was now thinking about the end. Third from last lap was when the pure pleasure started. Nothing was going to take it away from me then. And then last lap, I gave it everything, 7mins 56 second and my fastest split of the race by 15 seconds. It was pure elation crossing the line - 6hrs 58mins dead on the clock - the best run of my life - no question.

The memories will be there forever.


Lee Maclean said...

Well done Jez. Chuffed to bits for you!!
Reading your report gave me goosebumps and I was a wee bit teary eyed when you talked about how emotional you felt.
I'd love to say I feel inspired, but infact all I can do is shake my head in amazement.
Crazy man....

Mrs Mac x

Nick said...

What a fantastic performance and report, Jez. The emotion came through as I was reading it. Superb.

Thomas said...

One word: Genius

John Kynaston said...

Congratulations Jez. What a great performance. The thing that stood out to me was your mental strength and discipline to run the 50k with enough left to push the second 50k. Excellent.

What's next??


William Sichel said...

Congratulations Jezz on breaking 7 hours. I'm green with envy as I tried about 19 times and could never quite do it (best of 7:07). Hope you will stick with the event and develop your talents as well as your trail running aims. Always willing to help with advice etc if the need arises. Best wishes, William Sichel

Vicky said...

Congratulations Jez. Amazing result.

Julien said...

Congrats Jez! Amazing time and great race report too!

Thomas said...

Huge congratulations, Jez. A member of our message board called it a world class performance, and it certainly was truly awesome. As you've said, that is a very small club you've just joined.

If you don't mind me asking, I'd be interested to know how many gels you took during the 100k.

Brian Mc said...

Great stuff Jez, really well done. Here's to the future!

Anonymous said...

Well done Jez,

What can I say, your results say it all.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Ellen x

Marco Consani said...

Well done Jez. Brilliant race and a brilliant report.

Taz said...

Well done Jez

I will say hi at Calderdale if you are doing it as i will only see the back of your head for mthwe rest of the race. Well done agian

Paul Charteris said...

Brilliant stuff mate!!

"the best run of my life - no question" - This is the sort of comment we all dream of making one day. Congratulations on making it work for you. See you in a few sort weeks.

Cheers, Paul

Anonymous said...

Jez - absolutely awesome and an inspiration to all of us at the back of the pack.. Great report, glad you are enjoying your achievement.. Cheers - Keith

Tracy Robb said...

Awesome effort - this is amazing! Congratulations on achieving your sub-7 goal.

No comparison but feeling inspired for the marathon in 3 weeks!

Take care & see you soon

Tracy & rich x

Anonymous said...

Awesome performance boss... I'm sure your old man is very proud of your achievements... great stuff!

Catch you next time I'm back in the UK...