Race Report – South Downs Way 100

On Saturday 11 June I went back to run SDW 100. Race 2 of 4 on my training plan for my A Race this year.

The South Downs Way is a beautiful trail and well worth a day out. Many stunning views.

The race was organised by Centurion Running. I have run in about 10 of their races now – they hold, 50km, 50 mile and 100 mile events across the South East. A great place for your first Ultra.
According to Garmin: 124.1km and 2900m of climbing. Which is obviously NOT 161km. 😉 …..
Female win in 16:49:57 was Bethan Male – a new course record. Beating the long standing record from 2013.
Male win in 14:49:35 was Richard McDowell – (the course record is a barely believable 14:03:54)
405 starters and 301 Finishers.
The aim of the race was time on feet and nutrition. I succeeded on 1 and failed miserably on the other.
I didn’t finish (second time every for me). However, I am not losing sleep over it in terms of my goals for the year. Lots take away. I find that I learn more from the bad experiences than from the good. 
[you can stop here if you don’t want a story!]
The race runs from Winchester to Eastbourne, finishing with a lap of the athletics track at Eastbourne Sports Park – which is great fun – everyone tries to “sprint”
The start is at Matterley Bowl on the outskirts of Winchester. I dropped my van at the finish and got the train back to the start, camping in field at Matterley Bowl. I woke at 03.30 made breakfast, packed up the tent and was ready for a  05.00 start on a beautiful, clear morning… weather forecast looked hot though!
Conscious of the heat and distance, I started really slowly and ran well through the checkpoints at 16k and 37k – taking on food wand water – it was starting to get a bit warm.
Still feeling good at 42k, but I wasn’t drinking enough. Still eating OK. By Amberley it was now really warm (30 degrees given the reflection from the white chalk). Not drinking enough was starting to tell – as it leads to salt imbalance, which essentially shuts down the stomach and no fuel is a bit of downside when it comes to forward progress …
I plodded on to Washington at 87k (54miles)  – See attached photo from the top of Downs, just before the descent into Washington – it was really lovely. Washington is the first ‘drop bag’ point. I was still on track for sub 22hrs ….  I decided to take a good long break and try to eat something and drink. Which I did …..
About 1km out of Washington, I had a bit of a stomach malfunction (you know what I mean). It was about another 37k to the next drop bag at Washington. Having failed on goal 1: Nutrition. I resolved to at least meet Goal 2: Time on feet. I felt like C@*P but I did discover that all those uphill walking sessions on the treadmill meant I could hold a steady 6km/h fast walking pace. That will come in handy later in the year.
I did keep trying to eat and drink through the checkpoints at Botolphs (98k) and Saddlescombe (108k) – still not good and frankly I had stopped enjoying it by that point!
I arrived into Housedean 124k or 77 miles in after 19 hours and 54 minutes. Tried again to eat / drink – failed (messy!). I didn’t fancy another 5 hours of walking to the finish so decided to hand in my tracker – to be told it had stopped working hours ago – which just about rounded out my day!
At least got some time on feet (tick), even if nutrition (Hydration) was a failure (cross) and proved that in the dark times I can make some progress. AND I have a singular focus on hydration for the rest of the Summer.
Race 3 is Ultra Tour Snowdonian on 1 July – Purpose: Mountain legs and Hydration – tested by not being sick on my shoes.
It was lovely to spend a whole day on my feet in glorious countryside.
I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend!

Darren Bentham