There’s so many other races I’d like to do, but most of them will have to wait until 2024 or beyond. So far the roster for 2023 looks like this….

January – Arc of Attrition 50
The second half of its bigger brother, the Arc of Attrition 100, this 50 miler is allegedly a stern test on a rugged coastal course and quite likely in the thick of an Atlantic winter weather system. The 50 runs from Minack Theatre which is a few miles east of Land’s End, then heads round the tip of Cornwall’s toe, past St Ives at roughly half way then through the North Cliffs and on to Porthtowan. I’m heading down for a recce of a couple of sections later this year to see what I’m letting myself in for. This will be my first race with crew, so that will be different. More to plan, but planning is half the fun for me.

March – Hundred Hills 50k
A new Centurion Running event, the Hundred Hills is, well, quite hilly. It’s rolling country, more undulating than properly hilly, but it’ll be fun. I know the terrain well, it’s just up the road in the Chilterns and I’ve run round there plenty. As it’s local I will get the chance to do a full course recce. Should be a nice day out.

May – Thames Path 100
Not content with Centurion Running’s 50 Mile Grand Slam this year, in 2023 I’m upgrading to their 100 Mile Grand Slam. Thames Path is the first of the four 100s this year. It’s along the river, and except for some bridges and some minor hills it is more or less dead flat. That means it’s easier, right? Right? Probably just a different flavour of hard, to be honest. I think flat for that long will still be quite the test – using the same muscles in the same way for upwards of 24 hours. Ugh. A run-walk strategy will be important, I think, mix things up a bit. On the plus side, I know a decent chunk of the route – about 40 miles – most from my first (and so far only) 100 miler last year, some of which is on the Thames Path, some from doing the course sweep on this year’s TP100 and because I often run by the Thames when I’m at work in Richmond. So, it’s a somewhat familiar beast.

June – South Downs Way 100
A hillier prospect than TP100, I think the main challenge with this race is how close it is to the first one. There’s only 5 weeks between them, so I’ll be attempting SDW100 on legs not fully recovered from TP100. Also, do I train for a hilly 100 when I first have a flat 100 to do, or do I train for a flat race and hope I can handle the hills later? A bit of both perhaps – a conundrum I’ll happily leave to my coach to figure out. The course will mostly not hold any surprises – this year’s SDW50 forms the 2nd half of the 100 mile course, plus I’ve run some of the first half at various times. It should suit me well – while there are lots of hills, they are mostly very hikeable and it’s possible to gain time back running down the other side. Tired legs right from the start though.

July – Wendover Woods Night 50k
I haven’t actually signed up for this yet, I should wait till I have one or two of the hundreds under my belt. I’d like to do it, I enjoyed (most of) the 50 mile race on the same course, and it will be fun to do in the dark. I figure the hillage will be good training for the next 100…

August – North Downs Way 100
Oh God. Why am I doing this race? Really only because I covet the massive Slam buckle that comes with completing the set. I found the 50 mile course (the first half of the 100) to be very fiddly, difficult to establish a rhythm on and I generally had a bad day at the office there. I recall thinking to myself “I cannot imagine doing 100 miles on this ground”. Oh. Well, here I am, paid up and everything. It’ll be 8 weeks since SDW100, I hope I’ll not only be mostly recovered, but also able to get some decent training in.

September – Ring o’ Fire
What’s that you say? Am I crazy? Well yes, perhaps, but fear not. Despite the active encouragement of some, even I can tell it would be a very bad idea to insert a multi-day coastal ultramarathon of 135 miles into my already busy schedule next year. I will be there, but as a volunteer this time, if they’ll have me. I enjoyed my time there this year, despite not being able to finish the race. As well as being fun to volunteer, I should bag a free spot for my second crack at it in 2024.

October – Autumn 100
The final race of the Grand Slam, and being the only 100 miler I’ve done to date it is at least a fully known quantity. Apart from the cumulative fatigue of doing three other 100s in the preceeding 5 months. That could be problematic! Can I beat my course PB of 22h47? Will I manage a sub-24? Or will I need every second of the allowed 28 hours? We’ll find out.

So that’s what I’m up to next year. What races do you have planned for 2023?