Saturday, 27 August 2016

Which is the hardest Centurion race?

Most people say the NDW 102.9 is the hardest with a few votes for the SDW (more climbing) and some for the TP (mind numbing boredom and same muscles used). How about creating a race with the hardest sections of all of them? This is caveated by being based on my experiences and the years I ran them.

First 25 miles of all the races are relatively straight forward - mainly because they are done fresh but I think the terrain is the easiest as well as the benefit of daylight. The SDW or NDW are probably toughest with the SDW edging it with a few more hills.
Miles 25-31 is easily won by the NDW with the combination of Box Hill and Reigate Hill just as the day is heating up. Also very uneven ground.
Miles 31-35 maybe the A100 as the Ridgeway starts to head uphill - a bit of a shock after the flat.
Miles 35-43 I would take from the SDW - the hill out of Cocking is tough.
Miles 43-50 would be the NDW. I run this bit quite often - there are no real tricky bits but heavy going around the edge of fields and short sharp climbs
Miles 50-57 go to the A100 - the grinding climb out of Goring just after dark is hugely depressing
Mile 57-82 for me are the Thames Path. Starts with going through Reading town centre with lots of drunk people. Then it is mile after mile of going through dark fields just holding on for the next aid station. Either wet from rain or damp from dew and frost. It started raining at mile 57 when I did the 2015 TP100 and when I did the 2016 version, I slipped and fell in puddle at mile 76. However running the same section in the A100 was a real joy.
Miles 82-86 can only go to NDW - Detling onwards is possibly the worst section of any race
Mile 86-87.5 is definitely the A100. All you are craving is the turnaround at Wokingham waterside centre and it takes for ever. The "welcome to Reading" sign was miles ago, you have gone through Reading town centre and now you are back in the dark with no sign of civilisation. Steps up and down the aid station are included.
Miles 87.5-90 this year was the SDW. Probably not a difficult section under normal circumstances but a dense sea fog made it very difficult to navigate and keep going.
Miles 90-96.5 is probably the SDW too. Coming out of the last two aid stations, you are (as always) face by a big hill but the first 12 have worn you down.
Miles 96.5 - 96.7 Mount Whitchurch on the A100
Miles 96.7 - 100 The descent from the trig point is probably the hardest feature of any finish with tired legs

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