…and so, after nearly four months of training and two training blocks, 1700 kilometers of preparation, and training runs in three different countries, the Saint Fons 12 Hour race is finally here. Later this evening I’ll head to the race ready to get started at 10pm. By the time that the horn blows at 10am and the race is done, I hope I can be proud of what I have achieved.
So what am I setting out to achieve? Let’s run through the goals in order of difficulty.
Set a New 12 Hour Personal Best
This should be the first step in the night and I hope to have it in the bag before 5am.
My current PB for a 12 Hour race is 66.4km, a distance I ran in my first ever ultra event in Ploeren in December 2015. It was a terrible race, I ran far too hard far too early, thought it was all about winning the race, and I crashed and burned before dawn. More than a year later and with nine other ultra distance runs under my belt, I’ve learned a lot and I’ll be running slower and smarter. I’m planning to update my table of PB’s on Sunday afternoon with a nice, new, and hopefully three-digit number.
Improve my 100K Time
The only time I have run a 100K race was in Amiens last year at the 100km de la Somme.
I finished that race in 10:26:30 which is not bad for a first attempt and, according to DUV Ultra Statistics, was good enough for 11th best time by an Irish runner in 2016 and 23rd best time for an Australian runner in 2016 (I am listed on the site as Irish but I carry both passports, so…) but I think I can go faster. Though the 12 Hour race is going to be a longer distance to run than the 100K in Amiens, I think I can run a split that is faster. Probably not by a lot, especially because I’ll still have a lot of time left to run if I only equal my current PB, but I think I can cut it down.
The first of the two distance goals I have set myself.
If I break 110K then I’ll be somewhere around the top 15 performances in the history of the Saint Fons 12 Hour race. This would be a strong showing on my part as, despite how much training and effort I have put in to my ultrarunning since getting started back in 2015, I’m still a relative newcomer to the sport.
I’m comfortable with 110K as my distance goal for this reason. If I can improve my 100K time a little and then squeeze in another 10K or so in the final hour and forty minutes with a combination of running and walking – and there will be a bit of walking, I am sure – I will be able to get close to or surpass this goal.
…and here’s the stretch goal, the big one: run 120K.
In the history of the Saint Fons 12 Hour race only 5 people have run further than 120K in the twelve hour limit:
- 2016 – Patrick Ruiz, 132.7km
- 2012 – Eric Vernet, 129.1km
- 2015 – Yves Thenin, 127.1km
- 2013 – Gilles Icart, 124.4km
- 2012 – Anne-Marie Vernet, 122.5km
It’s also what I would need to qualify for the Spartathlon. Yeah, like I wrote, it’s a stretch…but if I am on an exceptional day then why not?
So they are the four goals I have going into the race tonight.
Honestly, unless I really have a terrible night, get injured, or make some very bad decisions then I should achieve the first goal.
If I succeed in hitting the second goal then I’ll also be well on my way to achieving the third goal. After all, if I manage my 100K split just a few minutes faster than my current PB than I’ll have 100 minutes to cover 10 kilometers. At my regular walking pace I should be able to cover 12 kilometers but maybe it’ll be only 11 kilometers at the end of a 12 hour race. Either way, achieving a 100K PB should mean I achieve the 110K goal, too.
The 120K goal? Yeah, it’s a stretch and probably too much of a stretch to be realistic but this sort of goal can be good to have. If I don’t hit it this time, I can hit it next time…but like I wrote, you never know how you’ll feel in an ultra and if I am on a good race, have good legs, stay hydrated and fed, well there’s a slight chance, right?
Come 10am tomorrow morning, I’ll know for sure.