Wow. What a race.
At the 2013 North Downs Way 100 there were two events. The main one being 154 starters trying to make it from Farnham, Surrey to Wye in Kent, over 102 miles of the North Downs.
The other race was the one between Anthony Forsyth and Ed Catmur, two chaps who had different race plans and were willing to put it all on the line to gamble on that tightrope of pushing body and mind to the complete limit and seeing if they come through the other side.
The full race report will come out in due time, after all the dust has settled from the 30 hours + of planning, organising, racing and clearing up that goes into each event weekend but a brief summary of the battle between the front two should whet the appetite.
Ed Catmur set off ahead of the pack from the stat of the race, having 30m a the first checkpoint and a good few minutes at each of the following ones, but Anthony raced his own race and kept comfortably within distance of Ed, changing places we he entered halfway at Knockholt in 2nd and leaving it in 1st. Anthony’s super efficient crew making a big difference on the day.
They have been on each other’s tails all day and at mile 65.6 Anthony was still in the lead by 1 minute 45 seconds, nothing in Ultra terms! Both men were looking great, on course record pace and flying on sub 16 hour pace. You never knew we was going to come round the corner first!
The next checkpoint at Detling was 82 miles and first in was Ed Catmur, BY 30 SECONDS! There were still both pulling away from strong runners in 3rd and motoring on to the finish, an amazing effort by each.
Sat at the finish now I know only one thing, Ed has extended his lead at Lenham, to a measly 10 minutes, again nothing in a 100 mile race. One bad mile and that whole lead is gone in an instant, two 20 minute miles and that lead is reversed. The reports are only coming from texts from excited checkpoint volunteers and we honestly have no idea who’s going to come through that finish line first…
All it takes is a wrong turn, very possible on a very well marked course with 15 hours of running in your head and when you question every decision you make twice, maybe three times because snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, a British tradition, is something you dread with each passing minute, begging to see the finish line appear.
So we sit here in Wye, just wondering and making penny bets one who will turn up here first. Anthony has an entourage that Hollywood would be proud of, urging him forward and possibly giving him that extra push, that extra motivation to find something else to give in the pursuit of victory. I’m unsure if anyone in Ed’s friends and family know he’s racing? An anonymous solo effort on possibly the hardest 100 miler that Centurion Running stage.
This is the closest to a neck and neck finish you get in 100 mile racing, a race that has a history of throwing up some interesting races but now this one won’t go to the man who has trained the hardest, nor the one with the best crew, the best nutrition or a bit of luck. None of that matters at this stage, now the race goes to the man who can find something more and put it all on the line.
I can’t wait to see both of them finish, they’ve been awesome and either will be a more than worthy winner.