By Akgun Ozsoy
After a year, I was at Goring again for Centurion Running’s Autumn 100 race. My goal was finishing my 3rd 100 miles under 24 hours and earning that “One Day” buckle. Last year I completed A100 in 25:17 and then did a very slow SDW100 (28:18) in June. This time I promised myself not to talk about problems I have had before -and during- the race because after running several ultra marathons I have realised that these are all inevitable parts of this sport. Simply if I wanted to tackle these issues, I should have been prepared well in every aspect.
After SDW100, I did two very hilly races. Ultimate Trails 110k (19:43) in July and then 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons (21:24) in September. In addition to several long runs before A100, I guess circuits classes which I have been attending almost a year did a big impact. These workouts are great for core strength and endurance.
I was very excited before the race but my confidence was high as well. This year my wife and daughter came with me too and I asked them to come back to the Village Hall before 10am on Sunday.
We had a brief chat with Iain Stewart while waiting for the race brief. This was his last race for grand slam and I think this is a big challenge. Congratulations to him by the way.
My plan was simple. Completing 50 miles 10 hours and then every 25 miles in 7 hours. I started the race at a steady pace and arrived Little Wittenham almost in 2 hours. Another goal was consuming less food in order to avoid stomach problems. So at each CP I ate very few things which I am familiar and left immediately. The first leg was completed in 4:15 as last year.
Rather than sitting in the Village Hall for long, I aimed to leave as soon as possible. Last year I spent more than a hour in total at this warm and cosy CP so I just taped my feet and left in 10 minutes.
The 2nd leg was my favourite one. Small towns in between trails among the forest and then the picturesque Swyncombe. Brigitte Groves was in North Stoke CP and the team here was marvellous again. Thanks for the picture and the warm soup again.
I managed to complete 50 miles in 10 hours but I think the critical part of the race started at this point. I pushed myself hard during the 3rd leg and always tried to run more and more. Just ignored the wind and focused on the trail during the night. Did not waste time at Chain Hill as well and left in a minute after picking up few grapes only. I tried Jack Daniel’s fudge at Bury Downs, of course, they were great. And the infamous last leg! I already knew that the Reading sign and the Reading CP was not close so enjoyed the quiet trail along the Thames. The volunteers at this CP was great as well with their Hawaiian shirts but I left after a couple of minutes because the clock on the wall was reminding the time. On the way back, the night section was over I was feeling well. Did not spend much time at Whitchurch CP as well, left just after getting two grapes in seconds.
I ran the last 4 miles very well and at the end, I arrived Goring in 23 hours 41 minutes! All hard training sessions were for this moment and I was very happy while receiving the special buckle. Thanks to Nici Griffin, James Elson and all volunteers for organising such a fantastic event. Special thanks to my wife Reside Ozsoy and my daughter Suna. It is very obvious that when your loved ones are waiting for you at the finish line, you are running with a different enthusiasm.