If you’re ever in the UK, I think this is one place you should come and visit if you’re keen on a 20-30km trail run. I headed up there today for what was to be my very first proper trail run in the UK. I only took up running seriously when I moved to Australia, as such I’ve never ventured out to these hills in the past so I was keen to get out there.
The Malvern hill range contains 14 peaks, with the highest (Worcestershire Beacon) standing at around 430m high. The views are stunning all around as this range of hills really sticks out from the rest of the land around. They’re a sort of mini mountain range in the middle of England, although mountain is probably too strong a word to describe them. Nevertheless, the running up there is pretty darn good as it’s up, down, up, down. There is barely any flat as once you’ve ascended one hill, it’s back down the other side and an ascent up the next. As such, it’s a bloody good work out.
I also picked a scorcher of a day to do this too. It’s not often that the temperature gauge hits 30 degrees here in the UK, in fact I’d say it happens about three times a year, but today was one of those days. It was very humid too, knocking about at 60%, so in all fairness, pretty good GNW training weather and not a day to let slip by as far as the training is concerned.
The goal for today was pretty much the same as it has been for the last 4 days… a solid 20kms. I don’t want to be over doing it just yet as this is officially the first week back after Glasshouse, but I want to get some solid back to back runs of 20kms under the belt to get me back into the groove. I’ll admit that I found today pretty tough going as the relentless up and down really took its toll by around 15kms. Some of the hills are pretty small with only a 100-200m of climbing, but some of the larger ones have some pretty steep inclines and go on for a good 500-600m. In the heat and humidity it was tough going, but good hurtin’ baby!
All in, I managed just under 20kms in 2:02 with I think, 14-15 hill ascents (I stopped counting on the way back, but it was something like that!). In reality, this was more of a hills session than anything, and it felt good to be running up the hills, now that I’ve shifted a fair bit of weight from the old love handles 🙂
Indeed, thoughts are now 100% focused on GNW, and I note from Twitter and Cool Running that those that have got in are also really focused on this race. Today brought home a reality for me as far as the weather was concerned. I find it tough going in the heat, so I can certainly see my gym membership being renewed once again and getting my lard ass into the steam room each day about 6 weeks prior to the event.
Looking at the entrants list, there is some real quality in the line-up, and here at Ultra 168 we’ll be announcing details of a competition that we’ll be holding as the race draws closer to get people’s predictions as to what we think the top ten will be. We’re planning on getting some prizes sorted out too (hopefully!), so watch this space.
I know it’s very early days, but I don’t think it would do any harm to chuck a few names around as to whom we think some of the main contenders will be for the 100 miler this year. I’m sure they won’t mind me putting out an early form list, and if I’ve missed out anybody whom you think deserves a mention, please do let me know and I’ll happily put some additions in. As we said, watch this space for news of a competition as the race draws near, but for now, see what you think of our light-hearted thoughts with 3 months to go:
Vizey – As one of Ultra168’s homegrown, you can’t ignore the man that’s won this event two years on the trot. Coming off the back of a spankingly hot performance at Western States, the man is surely going to be fighting this race to the death along the plateaus after Mooney Mooney creek
Jono O’Loughlin – This man has sport running through his veins. He pulled the plug in third place last year and I know for a fact that he wants big revenge. Probably one of the most naturally talented athletes in the list, if he gets his head down, expect a real battle.
Beth Cardelli – Forget taking out the women’s race, this pint-sized lady has the ability to take out the race completely, running Andrew pretty close for 140kms last year. If injuries stay out of the way, there’s going to be a repeat of last year when the top contenders all raced into Yarramalong together. Can she go one better this year?
Ian Gallagher – A pretty quiet lad and moving up to the 100 miler for the first time. There’s no doubting his ability or speed, you don’t just turn up and run a 2:48 and take out third place at the M7 marathon for nothing. Comparable to Jono in the natural ability stakes, will he be able to handle the heat and humidity that GNW throws up every year?
Matt Cooper – Ran a storming race last year clocking in third place with a great debut time of just over 26 hours. Since then has had some other very solid races and is going to be in the leading pack again that’s for sure.
Dave Waugh – After dropping out at the 100km point last year, the man is back to fight another day. You simply cannot ignore a man who has a 16 hour 100 miler to his name and is the current course record holder for the Glasshouse 100 miler and this race too. A class act and likely to be battling it out right to the end once again.
Richard Mountstephens – I confess to not knowing too much about Richard, only that he knows Jono and Jono said he is quick. If Jono says that, then I take his word for it. What I do know is that is ran with Jono’s Trailwalker team last year and won the event in 12hrs 7mins. The class and pedigree are there.
Phil Murphy (Spud) – You can’t ignore a man that’s finished consistently high in the rankings at this race as Phil has for the last 4-5 years. Bar last year when he and Whippet were attempting the GNW 250kms which incorporated this race, Phil knows this course like the back of his hand and loves this race. Expect him to be in the mix.
Darrel Robins – Another one of Ultra168’s homegrown. He’s knocking on a bit now, but Poppy as he’s known and loved has the ability to hunt people down in the latter stages of the race. A never say die man, we expect him to be there mopping up the carnage from 150kms onwards.
Gordi Kirkbank-Ellis (the third) – The Running Mad Kiwi is another one with a big heart and a never say die attitude. You could chop both his legs off and tell him the course has been bombed to pieces and he’d still finish the race. If his body is still in half decent nick by race day, expect him to feature.
Philip Whitten – Another very talented athlete who’s sure to feature in the top ten. Didn’t run last year, but was on track with the leaders in 2009, before a little ‘rest’ at CP3 almost finished his race. Came back very strong though, setting a new course record between CP6 and the finish. Expect him to be right up there too.
As ever, nothing serious at this stage, just some good honest fun – BUT, tell us what you think. Who’s going to take it out as far as you’re concerned?
Words by the rather opinionated, but informed Dan Bleakman