Saturday 19 November 2016


#165  100th anniversary of the finish of the battle of the Somme  6:31

Lonely (Photo: Dee Rand)
This was the sister event of the July 1st Somme event and book ended the 100th anniversary of the battle. It was back in Samphire Hoe and was the same 6hr challenge.

Over from Ireland were Craig Mills who stopped at 50K in July (for 3rd spot)  and was determined to go further today. Also here was Philip McEvoy wearing his 100th shirt for the first time and a first time SVNer.
race directors

A 6am start got me the 2 hrs drive to Samphire Hoe without incident and we were checked in and ready to go in plenty of time. A few presentations (including Philip Rand's world record 200th) and a very emotional speech by co-race director Rachel and we walked the 50m to the start. Some serving paratroopers had flown in from Germany and one had lost his great grand father at the battle of Somme. A few words from him followed by the last post and a minutes silence and we were sent off to the now familiar trench whistles. It was freezing.
New WR holder

First outing of the shirt
I went off very conservatively wanting to stay out for the whole time. The field quickly spread out with Carlo, Craig and a few others going out relatively fast but there were no hares today.  The wind was in the back on the way out but right in the face on the way back. It would only get stronger and stronger as the day went on.

I was wearing my newish Hoka's and had very sore feet during the first loop. It got so bad that I had to stop at the end of the loop and change into my Asics. This made my decision there and then that I may not be a Hoka's fan any more. I also picked up a pair of gloves that stayed with me all day. In fact I also stopped later for a hat change. It was freezing (particularly into the wind).

Ni well represented
Craig had gone our relatively fast and had settled into second spot. Eventually Carlo who was leading would fall back and the two of them ran together. They came through marathon in well under 4 hrs but seem to take elongated breaks before going out again. I did my best to encourage Craig to keep going and he duly lapped me and went out for lap 8 for Ultra and even a lap 9.  I thought that Craig had this race sown up but inexplicably didn't go out for a 10th. Carlo did however but was barley able to walk never mind run but that was enough to win.

Meanwhile I was also encouraging Philip to do his second ever ultra in a week (after Tollymore) but he seemed happy with marathon and stopped. Also there running well was Noel Keenan who did a swift 50K before stopping. He will be back next summer to tackle 27 laps and his first 100 miles. I have no idea how I managed 27 laps of this course back in July.

My own race was very uneventful and even though the weather badly deteriorated with biting winds and freezing rain for an extended period I ploughed on. I saw a lot (more than usual) go out for 8 laps but most finished at that. I was determined to run the whole time and easily got out on lap 9 before the cut off. One of the paratroopers had also gone out for 9 and was just ahead but I don't think any other ventured out.

I eventually came in for 34.5 miles and 4th overall out of 152 finishers. Nothing dramatic, nothing stressful. I dropped Craig and Philip back to Gatwick before hitting off to Hampshire for the evening.

Photo's courtesy of Dee rand and Philip McEvoy

Strava stats for the day.

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