I feel woefully under prepared to run 100 miles but I doubt that I would ever approach a 100 mile event feeling anything better. I haven't run 100 miles before but I know plenty of people that have. It is certainly achievable. The Long Distance Walker's Association is a well organised association of occasionally eccentric people with the common interest of walking long distances in rural, mountainous or moorland areas. Each year the LDWA puts on a 100 mile event which is organised by different regional branches of the Association. This year's event is a bit out of the ordinary because parts of the route take place in urban settings, none more so than the start in the east of central London, just adjacent to the Olympic stadium. Most LDWA events welcome runners. Its important for me to remember that the Association promotes the interests of walkers but its great that runners are accepted and both walkers and runners in my experience exist easily side by side. in my view,both runners and walkers have ultimate respect for each other. Perhaps the walkers respect comes from a marvel of runners ability to do events quickly whilst runners respect the walkers who are often still on their feet marching for hours longer and when the runners are safely tucked up in bed.
This year's 100 celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Association, the Jubilee and the Olympics. The route is summarised here. In short, it begins outside the Olympic stadium, passes through the pedestrian tunnel under the Thames, through South London and out into Surrey where I expect the terrain to become tougher but more picturesque. Eventually, at the risk of mentally shortening an epic route the trail ends at Windsor Castle. I hope to run the event in less than 30 hours. In honesty I just hope to finish.
I have no idea if I can run 100 miles. I have run 56 miles a few times, in addition I have a few other ultra events under my belt, the Manx Mountain Marathon, the Osmotherly Phoenix, the Marlborough Downs Challenge and the sadly defunct Cloud Seven Circuit to name a few. That endurance experience and training through the years should help but I'm under no illusions 100 miles is a different kettle of fish. I know its achievable, many ultra runners will run 100 mile courses with the same regularity of running a marathon. In the States the 100 mile scene seems more developed.
If you want to read an interesting blog about proper UK ultra running see Nick Ham's blog here to get a perspective of how serious ultra runners really put in the miles. Nick has just completed race 4 of 12 in the UK Ultra run series and just as an aside from all of that he will line up in London to run the 100 next Saturday. I asked Nick for some advice "don't stop unless you are mortally injured" was the part I can remember, I've taken that on board, thanks Nick and I hope that those shorts make a Jubilee appearance!
The best part of approaching an LDWA event is that there is little pressure. I was completely psyched ahead of the London Marathon and obsessed to get a good time. I see the 100 as a shot to nothing, an adventure, a 30 hour journey. I hope to be able to keep going as least as long as sunrise. I've night run before but I can't remember running into dawn and I hope if I get that far that I am somewhere where I can appreciate it. On an LDWA event time is secondary to finishing, competition goes behind camaraderie with your running peers. All of that adds to a great atmosphere of collective self challenge in the pursuit of a daft goal.
The organisation of an event like this must be colossal. I have already had the benefit of the a specially constructed website. I have printed off a 36 page route description. I have bought three of the specially commissioned Harveys maps which delineates the route, one for my navigation, one momento for the wall and one for Tracy to be able to find and support me during the event. In addition I have had regular e-mail updates from the organisers all of which gives me confidence that I can look forward to what I hope is a running ambition realised between the 2nd-4th June. If I make it I'll post here with a report to follow. Good luck everybody!
PS - If you get chance, have a gander at the YOUTUBE clip of last years finishers for a flavour of the great atmosphere of these events and see the interviews with some of the characters that make the LDWA such a great association of hardy, stoic people. (especially the disorientated chap at 26:32!).