I also developed a cold, so not the best start.
Temperatures will reach 2c, with -4c arctic wind chill with thick muddy terrain making this one massive challenge to the finish.
Sunday is with me and Helen on her way. My folks will be at Windsor this afternoon. After registration from James Elson and team, kit checks and preparations. The race brief is held at 9:30, detailing the scale of the flooding and precautions to take.
I say hello to regular Ultra runner Paul Ali and wish him well. Just 30 seconds, checking Garmin signal. Today Runkeeper Live will be tracking my progress.
Starting off over the bridge, to the other side of the river. I stay grouped in the middle before finding a comfortable pace. I have no idea how to plan today, so aim around 4-5 hours per 25 miles.
I say hi to Mimi Anderson further on. I don’t see her again. This section is very urban. Over roads and junctions following the arrows and tape. I have a Nakd fruit bar after 9 miles. Eventually passing Kingston-upon-Thames, West Moseley and then reaching the first check point.
AID 1: WALTON ON THAMES
Estimated Arrival: 11:32
Actual Pace: 08:21 min/mile
Running for 1 hour 32 minutes. Number recorded, few cups of water and some fruits, I thank the volunteers and carry on up the trail. Some road works guide me the wrong way, dropping back position. Back on track, the group spreads and I keep up with the front. Passing Staines I loose the arrow markers. I am not the only one adding miles from going off track.
The path leads down over the M25 then onto Windsor road, before coming out into a park for the indoor aid station.
AID 2: WRAYSBURY
Estimated Arrival: 13:12
Actual Pace: 08:46 min/mile
Running for 3 hours 12 minutes. It feels nice in the warm. The cabin is cosy. Lots of runners come and go whilst I stock up on water, oranges, water melon and nuts. Thanking the volunteers and heading outside, still munching on grapes.
Here it is thick with mud beneath. Through fields and woods. The scenery is picturesque, despite the cold. My legs remain strong, with my pace. Up and over bridges to the other side almost approaching Windsor. I start to develop indigestion, did I eat too much? After a very long road, through Datchet and then across a park into the next aid station. I can hear Helen shouting ‘come on Lukey’. Runkeeper Live has tracked me spot on.
AID 3: WINDSOR
Estimated Arrival: 14:04
Actual Pace: 08:44 min/mile
Running for 4 hours 4 minutes. I drink coconut water, maltodextrin and super greens mixed together. Refill my back pack, grab some seed bars and a veggie wrap. I will need a shoe change, the New Balance MT00 are not griping the terrain. A huge deep puddle is up next, so the team say it is best to wait until I return. My feet feel sore. I head through the cold puddle and up passed the Castle.
The trail weaves through fields and muddy woods. It is peaceful and quiet. I see other runners dropping pace. Slipping and falling in the mud has slowed me down. I try eating a veggie wrap. Over another bridge, then under the M4, the track ends and comes out at the Bath road. The runner in 1st place passes. I catch up with two others, following the markers through a grave yard then out towards the next aid station.
AID 4: COOKHAM
Estimated Arrival: 15:49
Actual Pace: 09:11 min/mile
Running for 5 hours 49 minutes. I add a Nuun tablet to my water with help. Eating fruits and some salted nuts. Luckily the indigestion has passed. The team say I am looking strong. Thanking everyone I make my way back again. It shall be dark when I return.
Once into the wooded area, runners pass from the other direction. We each say a well done and I high five Paul Ali when he goes by. I see Bosh runner Kevin Smith closer to Windsor.
Back passed the Castle and through the deep puddle, I can’t wait to get these shoes off my tired wet feet. I can see Helen, Sunday, Mum and Dad.
AID 5: WINDSOR 2
Estimated Arrival: 17:32
Actual Pace: 09:26 min/mile
Running for 7 hours 32 minutes. I chat with the parents as Helen and Sunday help me out of my wet shoes. The LA Sportiva feel so snug, like slippers in comparison. My feet feel new again...
After a black coffee with coconut water. I take both my headlights, some Aduki choc brownies, a banana wrap and some Nakd bars before heading on my way again. I hug everyone goodbye.
It soon gets dark, glow sticks are dotted up in the trees to guide us. I start to lose my appetite, but force down snacks and a wrap. My headlight shines the way. Passed Datchet. pubs and eventually into Wraysbury.
AID 6: WRAYSBURY 2
Estimated Arrival: 18:46
Actual Pace: 09:45 min/mile
Running for 8 hours 46 minutes. My Garmin battery has died so I turn on the next one. The team help plug in my back up battery for my iphone. Water refill and fruits, I head back onto the dark trail. Once in the residential area, I see some spectators. I do not recognise them. Further up a chap and small girl say well done Luke! I shake the man’s hand, thanking him. He tells me I am only 4 behind first place and doing very well....
I later discover it was Andy from Bosh run group and his 8 year old son! Was I delirious and hallucinating?
Once back by the thames, passing the first lady, who is in great spirits, torches flicker up ahead with cheering. I reach the aid tent with relief. That felt too long to reach.
AID 7: WALTON ON THAMES 2
Estimated Arrival: 20:37
Actual Pace: 09:48 min/mile
Running for 10 hours and 37 minutes. I eat more fruits, some tomatoes, salted crisps and have electroylte salts as recommended. After coffee my legs start to get cold. The other runners have left already. I thank everyone and make a move. I feel the discomfort moving agian after standing still. It takes awhile to warm up before I am steady again.
There is an added aid stop by the road on this stretch back. The runners are starting to get very cold and tired. I have more salts and water thanking the two guys. I start to get my appetite back. My pace has dropped but I am still moving, feeling a sense of euphoria like nothing I have felt before. My legs feel tired but my mind is very awake.
Through the darkest areas and back into the cabin at the next aid station.
AID 8: WRAYSBURY 3
Estimated Arrival: 22:38
Actual Pace: 09:58 min/mile
Running for 12 hours 38 minutes. More fruit and salts. It feels good to get back in the warm, but I need to keep moving. I head back into the dark.
I can see specks of headlights in the distance, congratulating other runners when they pass. I see Kevin again, looking strong. I eat some more fuel, over taking the first lady and other runners again. Over the field I can hear Sunday and Helen, then see them in view.
AID 9: WINDSOR 3
Estimated Arrival: 23:44
Actual Pace: 10:03 min/mile
Reaching the aid tent, James checks how I am feeling. He tells me to take as long as I need, I have reached 2nd place. I cannot register what is happening, I feel so alert and clear, I am so high...
Another coffee with coconut water. Plenty of snacks left and with only 10 miles to Cookham I can manage. Sunday is ready to pace me. Buzzing to come along for the ride. The company will be good. We say our goodbyes to everyone.
Back through the even deeper puddle, I guide the way, passing the lit up Castle. It is now the 24th March and over 14 hours running. We catch up on the events of the day. Walking the muddy parts. It is dead quiet except from the honks of the swans.
Eventually the trail ends and its back through the village and grave yard, then into the last aid station.
AID 10: COOKHAM 2
Estimated Arrival: 01:54
Actual Pace: 10:22 min/mile
Running for 15 hours 55 minutes. Some fruits and coffee and perhaps chatting too long before we head out again. The runner from behind, with his pacer has left already. The muddy trail tightens my sore muscles, struggling this last stretch, it has been one long day!
My lights are fading fast so we fumble to change batteries. I never thought I would get this far and to be in 2nd place! There is no need to catch up with first, I have proved I can finish, smashing my 20 hour goal.
Passing the castle and eventually to the glowing lights of the aid tent. I can hear Helen ‘whoop whoop’, ploughing through the cold puddle for the last time. I don’t care how it feels, I am at the end....
I feel fantastic that I finished in less than 24 hours....
FINISH: WINDSOR 4
Estimated Arrival: 04:13
Actual Pace: 10:43 min/mile
Finished 18:14:18 in 2nd place
On Runkeeper I reached 107.50 miles, so had I not got lost twice and hung about at aid stations I could have made first place. But Martin deserved to win today, and for my first ever 100 miler I could not feel more happy.
Martin Bacon 1st Place 18:10:53
Richard Ashton 3rd Place 18:35:21
Debbie-Martin-Consani 4th Place (1st Female) 19:19:20
Full Centurion race report and official photos here:
I would like to thank Centurion Running for all the planning and organisation. The volunteers and support teams for braving the cold and looking after everyone. Bosh-Run for all there continued support and encouragement as always. Sister Samantha for live updates for the whole duration of the event.
Lastly my crew, Mum, Dad, Helen and Sunday, who without them I wouldn’t of been able to complete this challenge of a lifetime.....