Just a quick mention regarding this weekend's Lakeland 100 Ultra Trail race, probably the premier ultra trail race in the UK. Although I am not running in it this year, (as my 100 mile ultra trail race for 2011 is the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc at the end of August), I am going up to the Lake District to watch. Having raced against a few of this year's entrants I am taking a keen interest in how they get on.
Looking at the start list for the Lakeland 100 it looks like it will be a pretty competitive and exciting race. Although it is likely that there will be a few runners near the front that I do not know, I suspect that the top finishing places are likely to filled by the following runners:
Terry Conway - 4th= last year. Terry has improved loads since last year. He demonstrated this with a pretty strong run in the Highland Fling, which would have been heaps higher up if he didn't have severe cramp problems, so we can expect a strong performance from him.
Simon Deakin - A bit of a dark horse especially for a 100 mile event, but he could shock a few up near the front, if he can handle the increase in miles up to 100! Not totally sure of his ultra trail achievements, but he ran a good 2nd place finish in last year's extremely demanding Hardmoors 55.
Duncan Harris - 3rd last year. Duncan finished last year's race with the fastest leg 15 time. Maybe he should read my blog and adopt the "Run as fast as you can, while you can" strategy, rather than keeping running fast until the very last leg, when it is a bit too late! In addition he finished last year with amazing form, winning a few races, and started this year with a win in the 32 mile Wuthering Hike race back in March before I believe getting injured. If he his back to full fitness, keep an eye out for him.
Andy Mouncey - 2nd last year. Andy last year was unfortunate in that he suffered a pretty severe injury around two weeks before last year's race, that although I believe it didn't affect him too much during the actual race, the lack of final preparation leading into the race wasn't ideal. So he is as determined as ever to 'nail a big one' this weekend. Whether he can improve from 2nd last year we will have to wait and see. I would consider this year's field to be substantially stronger than last year, however, a full-on performance with un-interrupted preparation could put him right up near the front, especially during the initial stages as he appears to have similar views to myself of adopting a strong, fast start!
Barry Murray - A bit of a new comer to the ultra trail scene, but having run 28 miles with him during last month's recce weekend, he has the potential to give the front guys a hurry up. He was a bit 'overcooked' due to being too keen with his training and racing preparation, at the IAU World Champs earlier in the month over in Ireland. So his performance there probably wasn't a reflection of what he can achieve. If he has adopted a 10 day recovery, followed by a 10 day taper during the last three weeks since Connemara, (as suggested to him by yours truly), he should be all set for a good run.
Adam Perry - DNF last year. Adam is the youngster in the group, although he has quite a bit of experience in ultra trail running. Winner of a number of ultra trail races last year, over shorter distances though, the question is, can he handle 100 miles. Last year he started strong and was in 2nd= place for the first 4 legs, but then the 'wheels fell off'' and he had to DNF. If he has sorted out his preparation to handle 100 miles then he should show the oldies a thing or two!
Paul Tierney - A name probably not familiar to many of you, that is because he has only raced in Ireland. He classifies himself as a "middle of the pack runner", but his performance representing Ireland at the IAU Worlds earlier this month was very impressive. A bit of a youngster like Adam, but learning loads from each race, and from reading my blog!, so you should be able to expect another equally impressive performance from him this weekend.
So the above seven runners, if all run to plan should full up seven of the top ten places, leaving three places for runners I haven't met. In which order will they finish though? I have my views on the finishing order but I think I will keep these to myself so I don't put added pressure on any of these seven. These seven runners are probably already less than impressed with me for 'blowing their cover' in terms of just potentially how good they can run, and are now no longer able to surprise the field with being an unknown! All adds to the excitement of the race!
With regards to the women's field, I apologise but I am not so familiar with the key leading women runners. However, since I have put pressure on some men runners, to be fair I will single out one women runner who I have met at a number of races and seen just how good she is. Yes, keep your eye out for Sue Sleath. She ran really well in last year's Lakeland 50 to finish in 2nd place. I don't know if she has raced 100 miles before, but based on her 50 mile performance last year, and strong performances in multiple ultra trail runs and marathons over the last few years, I think she could surprise a few of the women runners, well that was before I named her here!
Looking at the Lakeland 50 men's race, the two names that stand out are Craig Stewart and Andrew James. Andrew won last year's Lakeland 50 in a record time and was in awesome shape earlier this year. Unfortunately he picked up an injury which resulted in a DNF at the IAU Worlds. I haven't heard whether this is now fully recovered, but if he is on the start line then, expect another strong run from him. Craig ran a very impressive 100km on the roads back in March at the Celtic Plate up in Perth, recording a 7:01 winning time. Whether he can transfer this form onto the trails is however uncertain, although I have a feeling that he is due a good performance, so he won't be too far away for the front, especially if it is dry underfoot.
Overall I am really looking forward to this weekend. I wish I was running it as well, but with UTMB only four weeks later it wasn't really possible. However, I have already put the race down as my focus race for 2012, and will be the first to enter once the entries open later in the year!
Time to sign off with a relevant quote which I feel will be largely related to the finishing place order this weekend:
"The way we perform is the result of the way we see ourselves. To alter our performance we need to alter or change ourselves and it is that changing that's difficult". Gary Elliott (1983), coach to the great New Zealand women marathon runner, Alison Roe. Hence the need for the TOTAL preparation that I keep on going on about!To all of you out there running either the Lakeland 100 or Lakeland 50 this weekend, I wish you all the best. Enjoy the experience!
PS Those of you who listened to my radio interview regarding the Trailblaze scheme last month, (the Radio 4 broadcast of Open Country is available as a podcast here), may be interested to know that there was another feature on BBC South East Today programme yesterday regarding the Trailblaze scheme, and yes, again I was interviewed. You should be able to view the two minute clip by clicking the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-14297982 If you don't know much about the Trailblaze running scheme, go check it out on their website: http://www.trail-blaze.com/ There is also an opposing Trailblaze website that provides the arguments against the scheme click this link: http://www.trail-blaze.co.uk/#update to see the latest updates on the controversy.