I’m up early – well, at my regular time which is early – and it’s a little more than 24 hours to go before I am on the 100km de la Somme start line in Amiens.

I spent some time last night laying out, checking, and then packing up the gear I’ll need for the run. I’ll likely check it again one more time before I head out the door but I am pretty sure that I have all I need. Indeed, I know I have more than I need because I have taken two of a lot of things. I don’t need two shirts and two pairs of socks and two sets of three-quarter tights but it doesn’t take up much room and I will be glad to have them if something – who knows what that could be – goes wrong.

It won’t be raining tomorrow in Amiens, or at least it won’t rain a lot. It will likely be cold, though, as the race gets underway so I am prepared for that with some arm warmers, some light gloves, and a jacket. I will only probably need that stuff and the headlamp I am brining for the first couple of hours at the most, but it will be nice to have all the same. I ran on Wednesday night and it was cold getting started but, as ever, you warm up pretty fast when you are exercising. I think I’ll be able to manage the cold.

I’m not going to carry a lot of food but I will tuck away a couple of small bags of gummy bears. I like these and the aid stations may not have them so I’ll have a treat to look forward to later in the race if I need a pick-me-up. As I wrote yesterday, I’m going with the handheld bottle and I’ll have a couple of electrolyte tabs to keep the salts up, too.

We leave this afternoon on the train to Paris and then take a second train for the final leg to Amiens. I’m hoping we’ll arrive in time to be able to check in tonight, get my number sorted out, and get some good sleep before the early start tomorrow morning. I know I can check in before the race on Saturday morning but, again, if I can sort things out in advance and be sure that it is all going to be OK, I think I’ll sleep better than if I have to stress a little bit in the morning.

And so here I am: 24 hours out from the longest ultra of the year and the longest race I’ve attempted.

The goals I laid out the other day are basically what I’m still aiming for, though one has been adapted slightly:

  • Finish the 100K
  • A sub-11.5 hours for the 100K
  • A sub-11 hours for the 100K
  • A finish in the top half of the 343 runner field

Above all else I want to finish the race. I think I can do this and, barring injury, I should be able to manage it in the 15 hour cut-off time.

The 11.5 hour and 11 hour targets are basically based off the last long run I did in England. I took around 8.5 hours to do 75K or about 8 hours if you take out the lunch break and stopping time. Hence, add in another 25km and allow for some slowing down and I figure 11.5 hours is a nice goal, with 11 hours being a stretch goal if I keep moving more and feel good.

The difference? Usually the race attracts less than 200 runners but this year it doubles as the national championship and so has swelled to 343 runners. I was aiming to go top 100 if I had a great day but I think if I manage to finish in the top half it’ll be proof I had a ripper of a run.

In the past twelve months I’ve put in steady performances in St Fons and at the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra, had great long runs over the 50K and 75K distances, and had a perfect running day at the CIEC 6 Hour despite the weather and the mud. Now I’m testing myself one more time over a distance that I wouldn’t have felt confident about completing a year ago but that now, after a year of running ultras, I think is possible.

Now there’s just 24 hours to go until I begin the race and find out if I am right.

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