This was do or die.
After 5 months of races, it now all came down to this one final 100 miles.
I had inadvertently fallen into the Centurion Racing ‘grand slam’, a series of four races run by the same team which challenged not only my now favourite 100 mile trail running distance, but extended the challenge to running consecutive races carried out only a few weeks apart.
Trail running has exploded recently, with many, many people discovering the joy of running in the countryside, as opposed to battling with masses in city races, and this series of races catered well for the equally expanding appetite for ultrarunning, by taking in long distance runs along beautiful English national trails.
At the beginning of May, I found myself running 100 miles along the Thames, in the TP100 from Richmond to Oxford, followed 6 weeks later, by a similarly lengthy, but much hillier jaunt along the South Downs way, the SDW100 from Winchester to Eastbourne, in June. Typically, on the hottest day in August, 8 weeks later, I found myself running along the North Downs way in the NDW100, from Farnham to Wye in Kent. I had completed all these races in under 24 hours, setting a new personal best at the Thames Path 100 in May. I was quietly confident of a good race now, but I was also aware, through bitter experience that ANYTHING can, and often does, happen in a 100 mile race and nothing is a given.
So it was that I arrived in Goring, on 17 October, thankfully fully recovered from my previous exploits, having managed to exorcise the phantom niggles the mind throws at you before a race, and I was confidently toeing the start line of my 10th 100 mile race.