The Magnificent Malverns and more GNW thoughts/predictions

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

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 rolling Malvern Hills

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

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

20 thoughts on “The Magnificent Malverns and more GNW thoughts/predictions

  1. Great to see you enjoying the Malvern Hills Dan, one of my old MTB haunts, stunning countryside and as you say, decent hills, or “A little bit Pinchy” as Buzz would say. As for your predictions, pretty important to turn up on race day healthy and not carrying any injuries. Anyone of those runners could take it out, as the coming weeks training ramps up it will reveal a lot of peoples potential form and those who are carrying a few niggles will need to get them sorted out sharpish. Just as important as the podium make up is what sort of times will be run as we see ultra times all over the world tumbling as the fields get more competitive. I predict a new course record will be required to take it out this year!

  2. Hi Dan

    The malverns look awesome! nice running!

    I wAs also thinking about a top 10 prediction on the race. Nice of you to include me in there but I seriously doubt that I’ll be a contender. I’m using the race as a learning curve hopefully for a proper assault next year when I’m 100% fit

    I dont think we can look past vizey. No one trains as hard. Class act and I’d put my money on him this time round.

  3. Wow – no flying under the radar here. Couple of more contenders to keep an eye on. Chris Turnbull and Mike Taylor. Both can run sub 24’s this year and will be well trained up.

    I agree – it’s going to take a sub 23 to win this race. Probably even quicker depending on the weather.

    It’s no longer about “completing”. People have learnt to race this thing from start to finish. Going to be fun and games out there on race day.

    I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how fast the 100km runners can go as i think it’s a terrific 100km course as well as a 100 mile course.

    1. You are right Andrew, the 100km field is pretty impressive as well and will be a tough dual up front with the likes of Brendan and Clarke going toe to toe. I think our race predictions comp will need to include the 100km field as well. Its only the first week of August and its already exciting.

  4. Hey Dan, would be nice if you get to check out some of the Bob Graham Round??

    Re-Predictions – one glaring ommission is Jim Villiers. Runs a smoking UTMB and has performed well at B2H this year. Certainly capable of podium.

    Agree with AV about the 100km course and what a line up. Should be a ding dong battle between Clarke and Brendan and maybe Dave Coombs

    Let’s hope we all make it to the startline fit and raring to go. Lots of miles (and races) to be run between now and race day.

  5. Don’t forget that any people in the 100km can switch to the 100 miler. For this reason I am not counting Brendan Davies out for a switch to the big sandpit post Commonwealth duties.

    1. Do you mean they can upgrade during the race and keep going or do they have to commit in advance ? If it is the former then some serious sandbagging could occur and also isn’t that a cheaper option ? DO you swipe your credit card at Yarramalong School ? Looking at the effort Clarke put in for the 100km last year and how he just made it over the line, can’t see many smokeys suddenly deciding to keep going for another 70 plus kms

  6. That’s nuts. Can’t see anyone in their right mind choosing to carry on after finishing the 100km. Would take some willpower

  7. Yeah you can swap your entry – pre race. Doubt anyone gets to Yarramalong during the race and says “you know what, I fancy some breakkie at Patonga, might trot off down the trail, do you want bbq or tomato with your B&E rolls”

  8. Good to see the debate going on here guys. Yep, indeed Spud, Jim totally went through my radar on this one and will surely be up there with the best too. I won’t be able to get up to the Lakes to see some of the Bob Graham round either… so little time and so much to do – everyone wants a piece of you when you get back to the UK.

    Take Vizey’s point too about certain people upgrading, you never know…

  9. Finally some good writing from the UK.

    Looking at the responses, there are more sandbaggers here than the Netherlands. I’ve got a two coughs, four sore leg and feeling more puffy than vize running next to a Frenchy – so will be somewhere well back from you sandbaggers for sure.

    Here’s some more goss on Monster Monstephens – he survives on dog food and puddle water during trainings, drives faster than the stig and once during a remote european trail race ate another competitor to put them out of their misery of coming 2nd. More recently he keeps staring at jono’s kidneys and licking his lips.

  10. LUCKY im not doin either race,i would smash the lot of you easy,.No one can keep up!went for a lazy 50km with the boys yesterday and did 45 short “out and backs” in the first 2.5kms !my owner tried to have a go in the first 25km,then died in the arse!Brent killed him on the way back;would have loved to take him down too but had to stay with my master on the way back,he looked like he was going to pass-out!,thinks he can drink beer every night and live off pizza and deserts-loser.When we got back to somersby Darrel finally came in , boy he can talk, if only his legs moved the same pace as his mouth he’d go alright,but he’s ok ,he’s got more bark than bite(excuse the pun).Oh well 60km next weekend,lets hope the boys can bring something to the table a bit quicker than last weekend,and as i always say”four legs are better than two”!!
    cheers Cooba

    1. I thought I was on fire!!!!.

      I did have a problem in working out which one was Cooba until Roger pointed out Cooba had the 4 legs.Hope his owner gives him some pocket money to buy his own lunch next Saturday.

  11. There was some rubbish being passed off as training out there on the weekend. Equally there were some very good efforts as well. Looking forward to this weekend. At least some of the guys know what not to have for Breakfast on the way up the coast. What’s wrong with a hammer bar and a gel?

  12. Mounty – came over here a few years ago and took home the title for the inaugural Heaphy 50 miler. Bastard. Came back last year for the World Rogaine Championships and teamed up with former Winner, Dennis deMonchey, it was nice to see them finish just behind us, lot’s of smack talk that afternoon. Mounty has a background of multisport and adventure racing, funny bugger, hard, fast and smart. Short Odds.

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