On Sunday 21st May 2017 I was honoured once again to have the opportunity to run for England at The Meridian Ultra Road Race 100k in the British Athletics 100k Road Race Championship and the The Anglo Celtic Plate Home Countries 100k.
After being selected in 2016 and running my debut 100k in 07:17:43, being part of the winning ACP100k England team and finishing in 4th position in the British Athletics 100k Road Race Championship I was looking forward to setting myself new targets for 2017.
My training and build-up races had gone well and I had set myself a top-end targets to both achieve the GB qualifying time 06:55 for the World Championships in Croatia 2018 and to improve my overall position in the race and podium in the British Athletics 100k Road Race Championships. Both these targets were aspirational; to run a 18 minute PB targeting sub 7 hours, a time that has only been achieved by 23 men on the All-Time Run Britain Rankings , along with improving on my 4th place finish from 2016 in, what looked like, a very strong field both in the national teams and the open race, was always going to be a big ask.
We were based at the Patrington Haven Holiday Park, which was also race HQ and the start / finish position for the race. The route consisted of a 25k out and back, which was completed 4 times turning at a cone after 12.5k. The course was pancake flat but totally exposed to the elements with a single lane road (very hard surface, with camber) exposed between fields with each stretch of road lasting approximately 1.6km before a slight turn in direction onto another stretch into the distance, and when looking to the side you could see large tankers in the Humber estuary as if they were dumped in the fields.
We were fortunate with the wind and being a dry day as there would be no protection from the elements, but as the hours passed the sun would appear to give another factor to the race, especially over the last 25k.
Setting off at 07:30 the group of runners soon spread out down the road, with four leading off in a group at a very quick approx. 6:15 m/m pace, a solo runner in 5th before a small group of us at 6:35 m/m pace. At about 5k I was already running solo from the group as I passed for the first time aid station #1 manned by England coach Michelle Maxwell and my wife Nicki (5, 20, 30, 45, 55, 70, 80, 95k), then then onwards to my dad who was crewing for me at the aid station #2 with England coach Daz Reevell (10, 15, 35, 40, 60, 65, 85, 90k).
My pacing style is to sit at one pace for as long as possible and I continued to knock off the miles with an average pace of 6:34 m/m taking 4th place at approximately 20k. Then it was out-and-back checking off the aid station visits before catching and passing 3rd place (Tom Evans) at approximately 55k whilst still keeping my average pace at 6:34 m/m. I maintained this comfortably until 70 – 75k, before looping the caravan park and out onto the final out-and-back. This is when I was starting to feel the effects of the now stronger sun and needed to focus on the job in hand as the last 25k was going to be a suffer-fest. I was in the knowledge that the runner I passed for 3rd had dropped from the race so I had a decent lead on 4th but 1st and 2nd were clear and I estimated they had a 3-4k lead at 75k. As I left the holiday park I got the shout from the England Team manager Walter on his bike that ‘the race starts now’ and I started out to tick-off my final 4 aid station visits; first Nicki where I grabbed my fuel (and it was noted on her facebook updates I was not smiling anymore) then onto aid station #2. Already my pace had dropped to 7:15 m/m, however I was committed to keep moving in the knowledge that a slowing of pace would not be a disaster and affect my overall position as long as I didn’t stop.
As I was approaching the 85k point I was being told by runners in the other direction that 1st place was slowing and I was catching, Walter came past on the bike saying 2nd was mine and just before I hit the 85k timing mat I passed 2nd (Jason Cherriman) who was now walking and out of the race. I ran through the 85k aid station and grabbed the bottle from dad.
The events of these last few minutes had two effects on me. Firstly the extra adrenaline soared though my body, after being told that I was in 2nd and that people tracking me would know this as I had just passed the timing mat, and then the realisation that I had just been given and consumed my fuel 5k early = NO FUEL FOR THE LAST 15k !!!!!!!!
As I was at the far end of the course this also was the point where I could gauge my position on the road to my England team-mate and room-mate Lee Grantham. Lee was looking strong out in front and it was great to have the opportunity to give each other a shout of encouragement when we passed each other, and when we crossed each other I knew I was roughly 3.5 / 4k down. It was then time to check the gap behind, this was confirm as I crossed 3rd place (David McLure of Scotland) at aid station #2, so the gap was 5k.
The last 10k home was tough, my watch died so I had no pace information or indication on distance except the aid stations and I was down to water at the aid stations. Keeping the momentum going and trying to not drop the pace was my focus, a few difficult moments with breathing and heat over the last 5k on the long road stretches pushed me to the limit and I was more than happy to see the holiday park and the final loop round the park lake to finish in Silver place and a new PB of 07:04:28 and 27th on the All-Time Run Britain Rankings.
The support from the other runners was such a boost on the course, running solo for 95k is tough but I had encouragement not only from the England Team but also the Scottish and Welsh runners in the ACP and the runners in the open race. It was a pleasure to run with everyone and I know many great runs were completed with PB’s recorded across the depth of the field.
My 5k Splits
England Teams WIN and retain ACP Titles
Being part of this amazing England team was a privilege and to be part of a winning team for the second time topped a fantastic day. World class performances from Lee and Sue to take the British 100k titles, PB’s for many and some gutsy runs. It didn’t go right for everyone but you will be back stronger.
Massive congratulations to the entire team with some fantastic personal performances, it was a pleasure to be part of the team with you all.
|Samantha Amend (completed 50k)||England||DNF|
Full Anglo Celtic Plate Finishers List
Words cannot even start to explain the support I have from the most amazing person in the world. Not only does my wonderful wife Nicki support me every minute of the day in all I do and bring up our little family team together but for 7 hours she stands by the road passing me my fuel and being my mental reward seeing her each pass point. Thanks you 😘
I was also supported by my Mum & Dad with Dad at aid station #2 (7 hours waiting, cheering, supporting). Without my family support I could never achieve this.
My Nutrition \ Fuel
So a brief insight into my race day nutrition, lessons learnt: prepare extra fuel for each aid station even if you don’t plan to use it, I could have done with some more Tailwind over that last 15k
|Night before||Mountain Fuel Night Fuel|
|Breakfast||Weetabix + Milk \ Chia Charge Bar \ 330ml Raspberry Buzz Tailwind)|
|Race 10k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Torq Energy Bar|
|20k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Torq Energy Bar|
|30k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews 1/2|
|40k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews|
|50k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews 1/2|
|60k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews|
|70k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews 1/2|
|80k||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews|
||300ml \ 1 Scoop Raspberry Buzz + Chews 1/2|
|Post Race||Mountain Ultimate Recovery Fuel Strawberry|
Looking back I had a really good solid run, but the heat took it’s toll over the final 25k. I am a little disappointed to miss my sub7 target but 100k is a tough cookie to crack, my two runs have helped me understand how to race 100k and I feel I have areas I can improve to go faster and break that sub7 barrier.
Thanks for all the messages and support, it was an honour to race for England and hopefully it won’t be the last time I get to pull on an international vest.