So it’s been a week since I ran the Thames Path and I think I have recovered well. A couple of days of a slightly painful left leg but now, a few days after that started to pass, I feel good. I had a nice walk with Cécile this morning and didn’t feel any pain at all. In fact, I felt good.

So good, in fact, that on returning home after lunch I decided to take the plunge and sign up for the 100km de la Somme which is less than two weeks away.


This race has been on my radar for a while but the Thames Path was always going to come first. The Thames Path was a run I had been planning for months and I was focused on getting that distance in as a good preparation for the Saintelyon and maybe, maybe the 100km de la Somme if I pulled up uninjured. I liked the idea that it was a well-supported race, I liked that the Somme is a part of France rich with history and including Australian history, and I liked that the race was pretty easy to get to from Lyon.

Now of course, there are a few other things that make this race interesting.

For one, the race doubles as the French national 100km championship  so there are bound to be some real speedsters there. The winning time last year was just over 7 hours and the record is a little under that.

For another, though it is an ultra distance it is run on canal paths and relatively flat, accessible roads. Unlike the Saintelyon where there are 15 kilometers or more between aid stations, here the water and food is laid on every four or five kilometers. Forget about the hydration pack and the extra food: people can and do run this without carrying a thing.

Now of course I won’t be shooting for the front of the pack and I won’t be running and carrying only my hopes and dreams. The goals for the race are fairly reasonable, I think, and I’ll explain them in a second. I’ll probably take the Camelbak without the water sac and use it to carry the various things I might like to have for the early start (gloves, headlamp, jacket) or for later in the day (sunglasses, telephone).

So: what’s the goal?

There are three and in order they are:

  1. Finish the 100km within the time limit
  2. Finish the 100km under 11.5 hours
  3. Finish in the top 100 of the race

The first (I hope) should be doable. The time limit for the race is 15 hours and, while I have never raced 100km before, I ran more than 75km a couple of weeks ago in 8.5 hours including sitting down to lunch. If I can keep that same pace, avoid the half hour lunch break, and add another 25km to my distance, I should be home before 15 hours are up. I’ll be able to say I finished, I’ll be able to claim my medal, and I’ll have set a 100km personal best.

The second is a good target for me considering I have never run that far before. I think it is doable if I manage my hydration and nutrition well. I made a couple of errors on the Thames Path – nothing major, but still – and if I am nice and dialed in on that front I should be fine. As long as I manage to avoid injury, I think this is the time I’ll be shooting for.

The third is a reasonable target, too, but requires me to actually feel good in the final. Looking at last year’s results, a sub-11 hour time would be needed to break into the top 100 places. In 2014 it would have required a sub-12:20 hour time, in 2013 it would require a sub-12:20, and in 2012 it would have required a sub-12 hour time. My guess is that, with this being the national championship,  there will be more of the faster runners there so, realistically, a sub-11 hour time is going to be needed to break into the top 100. Hell, I might even need to run sub-10:30 to break into the top 100 which, honestly, I think is out of reach – but if I am on a day where I look to be hitting goals 1 and 2, I want to shoot for something else.

I’m looking forward to my fourth ultra race of the year that should, with luck, lead me into the fifth and final ultra race of the year in December with good form.

So it’s on…it’s on like Donkey Kong!

Image by JD Hancock.

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