Sunday 29 October 2017

Lon Las Ultra - Setting the scene

Here is the introduction to my race race report from my attempt at Lon Las. If you want to advice on how to finish the race, I can recommend Ronnie Staton's blog and Karl Shields's blog

My attempt was rather amateur in comparison but I certainly have learnt a lot from it. My blog is mainly to help remember things for a crack at 2019. If it helps, entertains, or amuses you too, that is bonus. It will be quite long and rambling in places - you have been warned.


The original plan for 2017 was to run the Thames Ring 250. I have moved up through the distances over the last few years and this seemed the logical next step. I ran a couple of mediocre half-marathons at university at the turn of the millenium and then had 10 years off before signing up to the London Triathlon Olympic distance in 2010. I finished this one and the 2011 Hever Castle Olympic despite riding a single speed bike. 

In 2013 I finished the Hever Castle Half Ironman and also unoffically ran my first marathon* (a very long run home from work with stops at corner shops). I finished the Vanguard Way Ultra (about 30 miles) in October.

2014, I ran the North Downs Way 50 and finished Hever Castle Ironman. I called time on my triathlon career having finished an Ironman - I am a crap swimmer and don't have enough time to be a good cyclist. I ran a solo 50 mile training run in October in 8:16 which was 6 laps of a local route with my home being the "aid station".

2015 - Thames Path 100 and Autumn 100. First sub 24 and then sub 23 finishes

2016 - Centurion Grandslam (4 x 100 mile races in the space of 6 months - cumulative time of 95:45 for 11th out of 24 finishers /  55ish starters)

Not too bad a running CV. A total of 11 marathon or longer races including 6 100 mile finishes and a good base for an attempt at the Thames Ring 250. However I changed my 2017 plans when I saw this on the Cockbain events facebook page.

Lon Las Ultra 

'A 250 mile non-stop race from Holyhead to Cardiff Bay down the centre of Wales crossing several mountain ranges. Mostly on road, you will be virtually self sufficient which will make this an incredibly difficult challenge as you would come to expect from COCKBAIN EVENTS.
You will follow Sustrans cycle route 8 all the way, with the last 55 miles along the 'Taff Trail', making this possibly the longest non-stop road ultra in the UK.
As will all our events this will be no-nonsense, basic and low key designed to push you to your limits'.

Mark Cockbain RD

I mentioned it to my running buddy Owen. I was expecting a "that sounds ridiculous" but he thought we should have a go at it. We sent in our entry forms and were accepted. I sent my apologies to Lindley about pulling out from the TR250 and I was now officially entered. LLU goes past my late Grandfather's house at mile 150 and past the end of my parents' house at mile 200 so have a family connection.

This was back in January. My year was now organised. I have the Thames Path 100 in May which would be the first training peak and then another 5 months to build up to the big one in October. LLU would be a big challenge and if everything went to plan, a finish would be possible.

I was feeling ok about my chances and then Mark Cockbain released a provisional entry list. This is the final entry list. Karen Hathaway (TR250 outright winner in 2015) was originally on the list too. This was defnitely an "oh crap" moment as  realised the calibre of the field.

1) Carl Howells                                                Viking Way, The Hill, C2C, Spartathlon
2) Dave Fawkner                                              C2C X2, Hardmoors 160
3) Anthony Hall                                                The Hill, Hardmors 110 4)4)
4) Ronnie Staton                                             The Hill Ultra
5) Byron Cook                                                  West country ultra 100
7) Riccardo Giussani                                        VWU, C2C , Hardmoors 200
9) Jonathon Strong                                          DW100, NDW100
10) Owen mitchell                                             Thamespath 100
11) David Stuart                                                 Centurion grand slam
12) Karl Shields                                                   Spine, Yukon
13) Colin Searle                                                  Spine x3, Yukon , Spartathlon
16) Robert Kinnaird                                            WHW 2010, 12, 13, 16
19) Duncan Walling                                          QE2QE100  2016   100 miles  
20) Marc Pearton                                               Utmb, lakeland 100
21) Allan Rumbles                                              Hardmoors 160, The Spine, legends
22) James Mcnamee                                          Hardmoors 110
23) Alan Cormack                                              The Hill, T184
24) Steve Willis                                                  Viking Way, C2C Ultra
25) Martin Ilott                                                    Spartathlon, C2C
27) Paul Ali                                                           Spartathlon, GUCR
28) Brian Clary                                                     Hardmoors 200
29) Mike Raffan                                                   The Hill (CR), C2C Ultra, Viking Way
30) Louise McWilliams                                       UGB 200, West C 100
32) David Wright                                                 WC 100, SDW 100
33) Chris Yeo                                                         The High, The Spine
34) Sharon Sullivan                                              UTMB, Offas Dyke
35) Matt Weighman                                             Yukon 430
36) Christopher Kay                                              UGB 200, Thames Ring

A non-stop 100 mile finish is the minimum requirement - but Yukon 430???

I continued with my training and had a decent Thames Path 100 getting round in a PB of 22:27. I also managed to win a local charity 5k setting a new PB of 19:27 (the excellent Woldingham 5k for Meningitis Now ) and 50k PB of 4:33:08 in July. I was probably as fit as I have ever been.

My last hard run was the Woldingham marathon in August where I even managed to beat the legendary Ken Fancett to finish 6th out of about 50. It is has about 3,000 feet of climbing including some of the tougher parts of the North Downs Way and Vanguard Way.

My July - September block of training averaged about 50 miles per week. About half of what some are doing but probably as good as I have averaged without a long race to pad the stats. I was up on my 2016 mileage when I finished the Centurion Grandslam.

Time for the Wales adventure...

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