It’s August and the year is drawing to a close. Yes, you read correctly, we are now on the swift spiral down to the 2017 races. Strangely, you, like me, have probably started your planning – undoubtedly you’ve already picked a couple of possibilities for your ‘A race’ and you’ll have some ideas regarding the races you’ll run as supporting ones but how far and wide have you looked for races this year? What are your criteria for running in 2017?
I have a range of criteria that help me draw up my options race selection.
- Location and accessibility
- Size of field
- Views of previous participants
- Public profile
- Proximity to fun
Location: A good race, as far as I’m concerned should achieve ticks next to at least half the list above; with some carrying more decisive weight than others. Location and accessibility are key, if I can’t get there then it’s not going to happen and as I’m reliant on the GingaNinja or public transport then there are races that simply aren’t reachable. However, because of my interest in the Bob Graham I’m finally resigned to learning to drive! The location also has to interest me – so Bristol for the Green Man was awesome, Isle of Skye was inspiring and Lanzarote will I know be tremendous.
Field Size: Also carrying lots of importance for me over the last three years is the size of the field – I’ve run ultras with 10 other people and I’ve run them with thousands of other participants. What has become clear is that I prefer less runners. A centurion race for example is a good size with a couple of hundred runners that spreads out quite nicely and the Skye Trail Ultra with less than 20 runners was absolutely brilliant. SVN events typically have 100 runners at most and this gives it a great atmosphere but also once a race gets going it can develop a nice sense of space, freedom and even peaceful isolation. My experience at the CCC start line (nasty and aggressive) and ‘follow the leader’ trail felt quite false so I’ve been avoiding bigger races – although the SainteLyon with nearly 6,000 runners never felt crowded and the atmosphere was electric. I suppose this also leads in to preferring a race with a lower profile – therefore the London Marathon wasn’t entered this year for the first time in seven years.
With regard to the CCC though – it did give me another important criteria ‘elevation’. I realised that the thing I love doing is ‘up and down’ or at least ‘undulating’ and years of bombing around the Lake District have been some of the happiest in my life. So after my failure in Champex I have used 2016 as an opportunity to add hills into my events. Rachel’s Ranscombe Ramble, Skye Trail Ultra and the Vanguard Way Marathon spring to mind and both the Ridgeway and Haria Extreme will have testing elevation.
So looking ahead I’ve been drawing up plans for 2017 and the list of potentials is quite long but I’m only looking at a couple of race types; marathon or above and the mile (that is unless Vigo Runners get their act together on out on the Valentines 10 mile!!). Below is the long list, some of these are worth looking up!
- January Winter Tanners (50km)
- January Ranscombe (8hr)
- January Peddars Way (77km)
- February Thames Trot (80km)
- March Skraping Ultra (47km)
- March Green Man (75km)
- Apr Highland Fling (80km)
- Apr Liverpool to Manchester (80km)
- Apr Le Grand Defi des Vosges (132km)
- Apr Rodopi Challenge ( 80km)
- Apr Rachel’s Ranscombe Ramble
- May L2M (160km)
- May Ridgeway 40 (64km)
- May UTSM – Ultra Trail de São Mamede (100km)
- May Westminster Mile
- June City of London Mile
- June Mont Blanc Marathon (80km)
- June Lavaredo (119km)
- June Tenerife Blue Trail (97km)
- June Ultra Trail Serra da Freita (100km)
- July GranTrail Courmayeur (90km)
- July Ice Trail Tarentaise (64km)
- July Medway Mile
- Aug Stour Valley Path (100km)
- Aug Ultra Great Britain (320km)
- Aug Green Man Express (76km)
- Sept Trails du Haut-Koenigsbourg (108km)
- Sept Isle of Man Ultra (55km)
- Sept Ultra Trail Monte Rosa (116km)
- Oct Autumn 100 (160km)
- Dec Saintelyon (76km)
- Dec Dawn ’til Dusk Ultra (50km)
At the moment the anchor point to the year would be the Trails du Haut-Koenigsbourg as its near the GingaNinja’s French family contingent and I’d like to go back and run sub 10hrs at SainteLyon. The one that niggles is the Autumn 100 which having DNF’d so spectacularly a couple of years back I really want to prove to myself that I can do it – but this means returning to Centurion and I’m not sure I’m quite ready to do that – but we’ll see by the time 2017 A100 comes round I won’t have run a Centurion race for more than 2 years. The only one I might miss out on because of my anchor race might be the GB Ultra in late August but plans do have a habit of revising themselves as the year rolls on.
Anyway good luck in your plans for 2017 and if you have criteria or a race I should be considering then let me know.