Centurion Running organise a series of ultra-distance events on some of the UK's best national trails. Their first race was held on the North Downs Way in August 2011 and now comprises six 50/100 mile races, a grand slam and the infamous Piece of String Race - The fun run that is billed as "The world's most pointless race". Basically runners don't know the distance of the race. It could be 10k or 100 miles. Or even the route. Only the race directors know. At the start of the race, there are five possible race configurations in envelopes. A runner will pick the envelope and that will be the race. Only two runners finished last year. I know, like me, the more you read into the race, the more you will want to do it?
|Robbie sporting the yellow jersey
Of course, there's a very serious side to the organisation and James Elson has certainly earned his strips as a top-notch Race Director. The races are full supported and racing and finishing are encouraged in equal measures. Anyone who read my Thames Path 100 report from March, will know that on any other circumstance that race should/would have been cancelled, but James spent the week planning, consulting with experts and re-routing the course, so the show could go on.
Centurion Running also provide coaching service, an online store and an Ultra Team. I have recently joined the team as the first (and only!) female to wear the yellow jersey. I was secretly hoping that James would ask, so was delighted when he did.
A bit about the team "One of the many great things about our sport is the enormous range of challenges open to each of us. Each member of the team has completely different goals and ambitions, taking different paths to those ultimate aims which sometimes converge at the same or similar events throughout the year. Of course, the over-riding thing about each of these runners is their love of running and that for each of them, it doesn't always require racing to feel fulfilled"
So I join the bevy of boys which includes: Ian Sharman (needs no introduction), Robbie Britton (my GB 24 hour comrade), Craig Holgate (of ridiculously fast on flat stuff), Paul Navesey (one to watch), Neil Bryant (who just casually ran across Europe), James Elson (the main man who seems to have done everything from MdS, Badwater, Western States, UTMB, Leadville 100 and Comrades. Oh and Ironman too) and Drew Sheffield (who knows everybody, has an impressive list of race finishes and is good for gossip)
Looking at the list of their previous races, I was a little nervous about penning my running CV. It seemed a little lame and parochial in comparison.
I’m delighted to be the first female to join the boy band that is the Centurion Ultramarathon Running Team. Based in Glasgow, I have represented Scotland and Great Britain in 100K and 24 hour races I like road, hills, towpath and trails. Actually, I just like running. Except cross-country. I don’t do cross-country. The longer the better for me, so don’t ask me my 10K time. I’m married to an ultra-runner and fit training around a full-time job and our four-year-old son, Cairn. Juggling is my forte. I also do my own stunts and could fall over fresh air. Skinned knees and bruised limbs is my signature look. I like to do one thing each year that scares me. 2011 was my first 24-hour, 2012 was the GUCR and this year the Lakeland 100. 2014 is still to be decided.
Devil o’ the Highland 43 mile race: This was my first ultra-distance race back in 2007 and my comeback race after having my Son in 2009. It’s a firm favourite, not only because it’s special to me, but it takes you magical journey through Glencoe and finishes in Fort William. This views don’t get much better than that. I haverun the race five times and finished on the podium every time. Took me to my 5th attempt to win it though.
GUCR 2012: I was the outright winner of the race in 28:01. The first female to ever win the historic event. Although I’m not famed for the performance. I’m known as the numpty who fell in the canal in the middle of the night. Remember what I said about stunts? I also managed to ruin an iPhone, iPod and Garmin en route.
IAU World 24 Hour Race: I have represented Great Britain at the event in 2012 (Katowice, Poland) and 2013 (Steenbergen. Holland). I was a counter in the medal-winning team both times, set a new Scottish 100mile record of 15:48 within the race and personal best of 220km for 24 hours.
West Highland Way Race: The trail starts close to home and is the playground for many training runs. I have run the race three times 2008, 2010 and 2011 with my best time being 19:38.
Lakeland 100 2013: Imagine taking nearly 2.5 hours off the previous women’s record, and still coming in second. Well, that’s what happened to me. Still, I was happy to finish faster than my goal time. And with a full set of teeth.
Past races and results
100 miles PB - 15:48
200km PB - 20:55
24 hours PB – 220km
West Highland Way Race 2008, 2010 and 2011. Best time 19:38
Devil of the Highlands 1st lady in 2012 in 6:54
Highland Fling 53 miles (2010 and 2011). Silver in the UK trail championship
Anglo Celtic Plate 100K – representing Scotland 9:03
Commonwealth ultra-distance championships North Wales 2011 –representing Scotland in the 24 hour race.
Grand Union Canal: 1st overall. Female record holder.
IAU World 24 hour championships 2012 Katowice, Poland. Set new Scottish records for 100m, 200km and 24 hour. Bronze team for world, silver for Europeans
Thames Path 100 2013: 1st lady and 4th overall
IAU World 24 hour championships 2013 Steenbergen, Holland. PB of 220km. Team European bronze.
Lakeland 100 2013: 28:02. 2nd lady. 13th overall