Soooo…yeah, time to write a race report. Or better said, to re-write a race report. Still better said,to try to re-write a race report.
And let´s say, race reports are already pretty unuseful, can´t simply imagine how stupid will appear this report but…ehi, I must do it, definitely.
It happens that I´ve ran my first hundo this year. In June. In Sussex. Yeah, right…on the South Downs Way of course. Why? Because I´ve simply felt in love with that trail, since I´ve ran my first 50-Miler there in 2015. And because I´ve some special memories on those hills; my father and and I, somewhere in the mid-90´s…ok, clichè warning ON.
But the point is: I knew already that one day I would have ran my first 100 meiler from Winchester to Eastbourne.
Secondly: the Centurionity. I´ve already written about that. It´s something that you can´t so simly describe. Let´s say: do you know that feeling of community, togetherness and friendship that you can breath at almost every ultra event? Well, the Centurionity is something pretty similar, but also special and unique, that you can really live at a Centurion Running event.
I mean, look a those faces. Mister James Elson. Top accomplished ultrarunner and Centurion founder and RD, but he always has a couple of words for everybody, even for the last runner of the pack,I mean for me. Great friend, it´s always a pleasure having a pre- or post-race chat with him.
And Lady Centurion, Miss Nici Griffin? This woman…man, she gives the best hugs on the planet, no doubt. But again, sometimes you think that she´s everywhere, simple as that. So passionate and friendly, no Centurion Event could definitely run without this hell of an angel.
And of course, the whole volounteers-team. Guys, I don´t know all your names, and maybe I would forget to name somebody, but I remember your faces, very well. Again, so much love of the game and passion, you saved my races many times. And most of all, you stay maybe 24 hours in the middle of nowhere to let a bunch of idiots wearing shorts playing Marvel heroes and crying like self shitting babies.
So for you, Centurion guys, and also for my non-italian speaking friends, I´ve finally decided to write a brief report about my SDW 100, in my very poor english. As usual, apologize for that guys!
Very important: this is actually NOT a translation of my italian race report. That is definitely too long, and too delirious. No way I can repeat and translate all of that shit, so yeah, let´s write something original.
The SDW100-plan started pretty early actually. It was maybe Sommer 2015, as the official registration process opened. And of course, I was ready to get in as soon as possible, because I knew that the SDW100 gets sold out pretty fast. Admit: to read my name in the starting list, officially…well, that was moving. And best of all: I´ve got the start number #81. My number! Yeah, I ´ve felt already focused and couldn´t wait to train for this beast.
Yeah, but there was a „problem“….one year. I mean, it would have taken one whole year, to actually run the race. A bit too much, to start making plans and be obsessed with all of that stuff.
So my Autumn season was pretty calm, and I was already looking forward to Spring season, as soon as I decided to run also a „tune up“ race („B-race sounds definitely disrespectful“): of course, the SDW50 in April, again!
Ok now you ask…ehi, why do you have to drive 1000 Km to England (and 1000 Km back to Germany), every year, just to run an ultra somewhere in the south of The Island? Again, Centurionity, simple as that.
So I´ve ran the SDW50 in April, yeah, and of course, it was a tune up race. It means essentially that I had no legs for the last 20 miles but, whatever, it was so nice to be back on „my“ SDW. And this time I´ve managed also to run many miles with my bud Joe Delaney, and to meet (finally!!!) the legendary Tim Lambert AKA From Sofa To Ultra AKA The Ginger Princess. And to meet (finally x 2!!!!) the super mega legendary Louise AKA Bradipus or something. Do you want to know how a badass ultra woman actually appears? Well look at her, and you´ll have a pretty accurate image, I think.
So, to cut the long story short: it was a great day, as usual. But I knew I still had to do much work, to prepare properly (try to read that 10 times, fast) for the big boy in June.
So I had in May a couple of good long runs (for me „long“ means just 4 or 5 hours here in the woods, maybe 25 miles totally, so nothing to do with those beasts out there), just to test all the gear for the SDW 100.
My brand new Salomon Sense Ultra Set 3 Liters (yep Joe, no more handhelds, at least for long distances, but I´m still proud about my chicken wings running style of course!), new banana yellow La Sportiva Pace shorts (yeah, admit: I´m a damned fashion addicted runner…no,must say: you feel the difference between good clothes and discount-Decathlon-so cheap as possible clothes, and I thought that maybe my balls would have loved something comfortable for such a long adventure), and last but not least: my La Sportiva Helios 1. Yeah, they followed the glorious Brooks Pure Grit 1, which are now pretty impossible to find.
So, ready with all this stuff, good miles and much focus and happiness, I drove again to England, also ready to enjoy a brief holiday with Ari (our glorious cottage in Findon waited for us!).
Just the night before the race we slept in a good hotel in Winchester (and planned to sleep there also the night AFTER the race. The night during the race? Well, Ari planned to sleep in Eastbourne, and I planned…to NOT sleep, or at least I hoped for that! :)).
Just the time to retire the start number at the Club, and it was already time to have dinner and go to bed. And try to sleep….no, I didn´t sleep. No chances. I mean: I was waiting for that day since one year, ONE fucking year. Yeah, this would have been exciting!
And here I am, at the start line.
Again a brief chat with Tim Lambert and Guy Martin (ehm…sorry, Sam Robson), a pre-race hug from Nici and many pre-race hugs from Ari and…we were off!
Very important: I´ve decided to wear ANY GPS this time. Just a normal watch to know what´s the time is and manage better my nutrition strategy. And no more. I just want to run the SDW by feeling, to enjoy the day and the runners around of me, not be a pussy and have fun. And most of all, I want to run WITH the SDW. To be absorbed by the experience of the trail. To meet it, to understand it. And to save so many memories and moments as possible.
First 30-35 miles went pretty good. I was on a good easy pace, and had the chance to meet some good people. Tim Maloney, with whom I´ve ran many miles in the woods approaching AID 3, and also a woman, unfortunaley already limping due to an IT- Band issue. fuck, this was the same I had in Ulm in 2014. Frustrating and of course, so much painful. I just try to say something kind, to let her know that ok, I´m there buy the way. Because you don´t have to forget that this is always a fucking running race, and that people and safety are always the most important thing. „Keep it up darling“ I say, „and promise me: we´ll meet us again at the finish line!“. She smiles, and I run on.
Mile 35-50: Now this wasn´t a good moment of the day. To hot and „boiling“, over there in Amberley…I mean, so humid, And I started to have some problems with my energy delivering system (simple words: I ate so much watermelon, and my stomach felt just like a big handbottle, and most of all I had less and less energy for my legs).
Man, this was a big deal now. You know, when you start to think „maybe I should retire, maybe it will be nice to have a night in a normal bed, and a shower, and so on…“. Problem: Ari is in Eastbourne, 70miles away, with keys and money and documents and stuff…So, it is maybe better and easier just to run to Eastbourne, instead of retire at mile 50.
But it´s hot, fucking hot, and I´m still loosing pace and vision. But ehi, out of the blue I see a water tap. And still better, this is no allucination. This is damned real! Now I can say: it saved my race, definitely.
I´ve stayed maybe 2 minutes under fresh water, letting me refreshing and coming back on track, in all senses.
So approaching Washington at mile 50 I was feeling again better and better. Short pit stop to change socks and take new gels from my drop bag, and I was already out of the way.
Very good stretch through Chanctonbury, the pig farm and to the AID at mile 60. Maybe the best moment of the entire race for me, apart the finish line of course.
And that also because I was already looking forward to mile 75 or something, where I planned to meet (finally x 3!!!) my buddy Luigi Fumero AKA Gigetto, ready to pace me through the night until that track in Eastbourne.
It was a very nice moment. Sunset, the SDW, and two running companeros enjoying nice miles on a beautiful Sommer evening.
Right after the Clayton Windmills we met also the two Tims. Tim Maloney (again, after we had lost each other due a course mistake of mine in the morning) and Tim Cox, The Zen Master of the SDW. Night miles, each of us very focused and silent, just our strides on the path. Definitely, one of those moments.
Problem of the day number two: I´m starting to feel tired. Man, 120 miles are no jokes. So I have to slow down a little, approaching Southease. And yeah, now I have also some GI distress (better said: there are many chances that I shit myself, if I don´t find a nice place, right now!). Fortunately there are so kind volunteers in Southease, and they also have a very nice bathroom. Problem solved!
Problem number three of the day: ok, I´ve solved problem 2, but I´m still slower and slower as planned or hoped. And I´m starting to feel cold (summer nights on the SDW can be actually cold and also pretty foggy, right Luigi?). But again, I have a good solution. In fact, I decided to carry, the whole day, TWO base layer in the pack. One is of course mandatory gear, so I DON´T have to use it, in case I´m fine and run my normal race. And THE OTHER, right to have something to wear if things become cold, but of course still respecting the rules.
So I wear this second base layer (man, 300 gr maybe, but it was worth), and my WP jacket, and start to hike the hill after Southease, with Luigi pacing me veeeery patiently and kindly. Again, race saved: through the fog, in the night, not even able to run (too tired, I was actually falling asleep while still hiking), we found a couple of runners, also hiking and walking in the fog. And so we proceeded one behind the other, maybe for an hour, to Afrilston.
Ehi, must say: the AID Station in Afrilston is one of the best in the ultra scene. It is in an ancient church, the guys are always so kind (again) and they had biscuits and cakes. The right thing for me: whole food, calories, no more plastic shit please, at least for the day.
So Luigi and I decided to enjoy a nice tea with chocolate biscuits, and to start to walk again as soon as possible (temperature warning still ON, and of course now I just want to reach that finish line).
Again hiking and climbing, and descending down to Jevington. It´sunrise, finally. And the wise Luigi tell me: „hey, now comes the day , you´ll start to feel better and better“. Well, he was right.
A brief look at the watch…uhm, 23:05, maybe with 3 miles to go…Fancy a sub-24 maybe? This would have be awesome, must say. And definitely not planned. I mean: my first hundo in a sub-24?
Admit, starting to smell the barn (AJW quote) was a nice feeling and so…I started to run again, right on the top of the last hill.
We thundered the very fast single track approaching Eastbourne, and then the King´s Lane and the cycling lane to the track. We were running, and we were running pretty fast. Don´t know why. Don´t know how. It happened, and it was awesome. So a feeling of effortless and focus, at the limit. Yeah, maybe of those Satori moments that Scott Jurek describes very well in Eat and Run. It leasts very briefly, but you won´t never forget it.
The glory lap on the track? A mixture of run like hell, screaming, bombing on the finish line and destroying my dear Nici with a monster running hug!
And of course, the Buckle. My very first 100miles Buckle. Dreamed, desired, accomplished. „100 miles, one day“.
Just the time to say "bye" to my great pacer Luigi and to wait for Ari coming in the morning (most desired hug of the day, must say), and it was time to cheer for a special finisher....yeah, the lady with the IT-band issue! Job done, and promise maintained! Big hug of course, and she could simply say: "Yellow shorts!!!". Yes, it was me. What a moment, definitely a "Centurion moment", I would say.
And here I am, months and months after. Sitting in front of my PC and writing this report. And re-discovering those moments, or at least some of those. Looking back to a great day and a great experience, right to start to look ahead, to what I´m planning and dreaming for the next year.
In April 2017 I will in fact run the monster and powerful Istria 100 miles. But after that, deep in Sommer, guess what…I´ll be back in England, this time to run the NDW100 (some business since the NDW50 kicked my arse in 2015).
Why? I´ve told you why…Centurionity, what else….
See you in Farnham guys!