2014 World 100km Champs – “Blog from the bog”

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So there I was, 25km into the biggest Ultra race of my life – sat in a pitch black port-a-loo listening to the World 100km champs charge past the door….. pretty certain that wasn’t in the race plan!!

Rewind a couple of hours and things were looking a lot rosier, lined up on the start line I was confident that my hamstring niggle had improved enough not to cause me any serious trouble and the weather conditions were a lot better than expected. It was a little windy and humid but the temperature was well within acceptable limits.
There was a great atmosphere on the start line with so may quality athletes from around the world lined up to take on the 100km challenge and I couldn’t wait to get going.
The race kicked off and very quickly I settled in with a big group of runners that I was comfortable would eventually contain the winner of the race even though there were a number of runners that had shot off the front of the pack.
With the likes of Max King and Jonas Buud in the pack, my assumption was correct although unfortunately I would have very little part to play in this clash of ultra superstars!
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The first 5k lap went through in 19:00 dead, a little faster than my planned 19:30 target but I was feeling comfortable and knew that this was the group I needed to stick with. I assumed we would also slow down into a good rhythm after that which we did with the next 3 laps all coming in at around 19:20…. perfect I thought. At this time things were going well and I was comfortable enough that there was even time for some banter with the USA guys and Jonas in the group, discussing how foolish some of the guys up ahead were with their ambitious pacing!
……and then my stomach decided to spoil the party. It was towards the end of lap 5 that I realised that all was not right. Quite a surprise as my stomach had felt great pre-race and I had taken all my nutrition up to that point as planned. I had decided because of the predicted heat and humidity I would stick to Clif shot bloks during the race as they dissolve very nicely in the mouth when they are hot. These had gone down well but then suddenly at around 24km I realised I would need to pay a visit to the portaloo. The pit-stop including slow down and speed up lost me around 1min 40sec and so I then found myself running on my own a way back from the main group.
I didn’t panic and assuming it would just a one off I got back into my rhythm with the next 5km lap coming in at 19:14, all was not lost I thought…..until lap 7 came and I had to make another stop losing another minute or so.
Basically from then on until lap 15 I was in a constant battle to get from one portaloo to the next! Sarah had managed to get some Imodium to me on one of my pick ups but it wasn’t doing me much good, for a while every time I came out of the loo I was able to get my pace back to low 6min mile’ing but each time it got harder and harder as I felt more and more drained. There were a couple of occasions where I didn’t think I was going to make it to the next loo in time but thankfully just about managed it!
I had given up trying to take on any more food and so in a change for my planned nutrition I requested some “flat coke” from Sarah. This became my drink of choice for the whole rest of the race as I was able to get this down me and it even seemed to be settling my stomach a bit. This made me a little happier as I assumed I was at least getting a few calories in me and it wasn’t until after the race that I found out that I had actually been drinking Diet Pepsi for 60km as this was what Sarah thought I was asking for and it was all we had….. proof that a little placebo goes a long way!
That middle 50km was probably some of the darkest running hours of my life, there were a couple of occasions when I had some serious “I can’t do this” moments and the novelty of re-passing the same runners over and over again as I returned to the race course lost it’s amusement factor!
Thankfully at around 75km my stomach calmed down sufficiently that I was able to get back into a steady rhythm. I was too drained to do anything spectacular but I knew that if I was able to keep my pace under 7m/m pace then I would still break 7 hours.
Even though my Garmin battery died with about 10 miles to go, (I had the back light on permanently due to the lack of light) I was able to just lock into this pace and my last 5 laps were all within a few seconds of each other around 21:30, nothing special but it was good enough to start pulling in a few places as people started to fade considerably. I had been getting shouts from the team that we still had a chance of a mens team medal and that really helped to keep me going. With teammate Paul Giblin having the race of his life a couple of minutes up the road and Craig and Marders just behind me everything was still to play for on that front and we all gave it 100% to the line.

I crossed the finish line in 6:57:23 for 13th place and 3rd Vet 40, possibly the hardest 7 hours of my life and I think it showed as I fell into Sarahs arms….

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My trusty support crew then had to carry me back to the hotel, I’ve looked better!

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If someone had told me before the race I was only just going to break 7 hours and would be 13th I would have been pretty gutted, as it was and considering how I felt at 40km (in around 20th place) I just had a real sense of relief at the end that I had made it! There was also the great satisfaction of knowing that I played a part in getting the team bronze with the rest of the boys with some fantastic performances by Paul G and Craig (both with PB’s) and Marders showing some real grit and determination when it wasn’t his day either.

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Massive congratulations also have to go to our ladies who basically dominated the race, lead home by a stunning performance from Ellie who looked like she could do it all again if necessary at the end!

So that’s my year done then, not quite the finish I was hoping for but in a 2014 with plenty of successes I mustn’t get too greedy 😉
A few much deserved thank you’s…..
Sarah for all her support and crew work – she worked very hard on Friday night!
Trev (#BigTrev #TwitterTrev),Bridget,Paul and Matt who turned up in the middle-east to watch a bunch of mad people run round a hotel for 7 hours!
And a big thank you to my sponsors – Adidas, Garmin, EastCliff Physio , ChiaCharge and SturFit Gym

Full 5k splits for me below (The position details after each lap are the time ranking for that particular lap, not overall position)

http://m.racetecresults.com/myresult.aspx?R=1092&EId=1&AId=10376

Garmin splits below (Up to 53 miles)

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38 Responses to 2014 World 100km Champs – “Blog from the bog”

  1. The toughest races are the ones you can learn the most from. Very impressed you held things together and got through the problems and finsihed strong. Good example of never giving up attitude – without it the GB men wouldn’t have got bronze.

    Well done to yourself and whole team+support.

    • simon lund says:

      Steve, this is a impressive, practical, pragmatic, humorous, mature response to quite a nasty setback. Agree with Robert Osfield that your mental strength in the face of repeated adversity was an impressive example to us all, and won GB team bronze. Your attitude and this experience can only help you in future races, and as you say you’ve had an extraordinary year. It’s not gone too bad since not even being fit enough to start Seville Marathon last February!? Proud of you Steve, you’re a truly Great Briton!

    • Steve says:

      Thanks Robert!

  2. David Ragg says:

    Great run…still a legend!

  3. Simon Hart says:

    Steve, I know that it was probably not the result you wanted, but you should think back on 2014 as a fantastic year of running. Commonwealth Games, V40 Record and now a Team Bronze at the 100K World Champs.
    Congratulations and thanks for being an inspiration to so many.

    See you in 2015.

  4. Sarah D says:

    Congratulations Steve. Sounds like a mammoth effort to even complete the course in that weakened state. I’m sure you’ll be able to draw on the huge physical and mental
    strength you had to use, to spur you on to faster (& easier!) future races!

  5. Mike Pini says:

    Well done for finishing 13th in the world anyway, Steve. It could have happened to anyone out there. Love your sense of humour with the blog title and “Keep Calm” poster. A huge congratulations to the GB men’s team for winning bronze, to the GB women’s team for taking home gold, and to Ellie Greenwood, who seemed to pace the race to perfection to win it! All so inspirational that I’ll now go and enter my second ultra, in January.

  6. Mick McGeoch says:

    Steve, I know it’s not the result you wanted, but huge respect for hanging in there when things weren’t going to plan. Some fantastic results for GB too so well done to everyone. It takes some guts to also “go public” with what are very deep personal feelings. The depth in the results shows just how far ultras have progressed. Immensely proud of you all.

  7. Tim Grose says:

    Very bad luck Steve but great effort to finish when most would have posted a DNF. I was down your way at the weekend (did Blandford parkrun) and couldn’t resist driving round the “green” in your home village on way back. Would have run but don’t have your endurance! Another time… Hope to see you out there again before long. Do you know what might have happened or was it just one of those things?

    • Steve says:

      Can’t believe you drove around “the loop” Tim :-) Really don’t know why I had the stomach issues to be honest, quite possibly could have just been my body telling me 2014 was done as I did have a few stomach issues during my long runs in the build up when I was struggling with my training.

  8. So inspiring to follow the livecams at the race!
    Sorry to hear about your bad stomach but You did very well anyway.
    There will probably be more racaes waiting for You in the future.
    Take care and thank’s for the thrill!
    /Claes

  9. Martin O'C says:

    Well done Steve. You’re only human and not a machine. Give it another crack in future and I’m sure you’ll better your record in the 100km. Great running as many would have made their excuses and pulled out. Sign of a real champ.

  10. saintjason says:

    AWESOME!

    Rotten luck with the tummy issues but as others have said, you showed real spirit and determination to get the job done.

    Proud.

    SJ

  11. Neeraj Sadarjoshi says:

    Tremendous will power and determination!! Staying focussed and adapting to the situation no matter how difficult!! It takes so much to stay positive when things aren’t going as planned! You’ve proven yourself yet again!!

    Congrats Steve!! 😀 Huge fan!! :-)

  12. barry p (bazp on fetch) says:

    proper hardcore. hats off fella as its been a cracking year. have a rest….go on :)

  13. Dave James says:

    Steve, Great job to you and all your GB Team mates! You guys are awesome!

  14. Johnny M says:

    Hi Steve, keep going, you know you are on the right track! You are an inspiration to all of us used-to-be-fat-now-i-am-racing guys!

  15. hari says:

    Gutty result and methinks there is MUCH more to come from you. Please take as much rest as you can for a few weeks, before the next big buildup! You are an inspiration.

  16. hari says:

    Haha, meant gutsy, not gutty!

  17. Martin says:

    Hey Steve, great run! Did you see that (besides being a little bit to fast for your own good on the ultra distances) you have qualified for the world championchips in marathon by running sub 2:18 in the marathon during the period 1 jan 2014-10august 2015 ?

    https://iaafmedia.s3.amazonaws.com/competitioninfo/544c7d0a-0807-4226-a85b-79928c58a097.pdf

  18. Pam Storey says:

    Steve, I knew when I saw you at the Cyclopark that you are something special. Well done for completing and not ‘dropping’ as many runners would have done.
    You still have more to come especially the Comrades. I did it in 2003 and in my opinion it is the best race on the planet.
    Pam Storey
    Chair of the 100 Km Association.

  19. Barry Young says:

    Diet Pepsi? That’s hilarious.

    What did you think of the course? Everyone’s being quite diplomatic, but it sounded awful. Tiles, cobbles, uneven surfaces, sharp turns…

  20. Su says:

    Massive congrats for finishing, I don’t think most people would even have managed that, let alone under 7 hours.
    I have held back from commenting as I really hoped someone else would do it for me! You have had several episodes with a ‘dodgy tummy’, which seem to have started following the Commonwealth Games when you had a stomach bug. Assuming that you are not having stomach issues in ‘real life’, I think that something you’re consuming pre big race is not agreeing with you. This may be something that you have consumed many times in the past, but now your body is struggling to deal with. The problem may be identifying what this is! With me it’s artificial sweeteners, my daughter it’s raw onion (cooked is fine), I only mention these to show how diverse the foodstuff could be. I hope that I’m not overstepping the mark and I also feel it necessary to state that I have no medical training, just personal experience.

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