The end of the Centurion Ultra running season 2014, finishes with the Winter 100. Now held a month earlier than last years race in October, should see to milder weather conditions and longer daylight hours. 

The 3rd edition looks to be a promising start for any seasoned ultra runner, beginner or elite. The route has a little everything from all four of the 100 mile Centurion events. With four out and back spurs of 12.5 miles, makes this an easier race to break into four parts, mentally and with the flat of the Thames Path in the first and last leg. Then the added bonus of race HQ after each 25 mile section. 

This will be my second try at the Winter 100

Breakfast consists of my usual race preference of Bulletproof coffee, some avocado, plenty of water and a Nettle tea. 

After a broken sleep in the Travelodge Reading, on the busy Oxford Road. Myself, Sunday (chief crew) and fellow ultra running friend Shawn Timmons make our way over to race HQ in Goring. 

The weather is breezy and wet with thick humidity in the air. We all seem to have been woken from the wind and rain last night, but with a later start of 10am we feel rested enough...

Within 20 minutes we arrive by the Goring Village Hall and find a good parking space nearby. 24 hours parking for £3.30 and Sundays are free. 


This will be a good base for my crew to use chargers and store my cool bag for the duration of the event. 

After chatting to familiar running friends and bag check complete, I sign the waiver and attach my number. I forgot to put AAA batteries in my 2nd head torch so had to use my spares to show it working. Sunday makes a note to buy another set. I also couldn't find my Ridgeway Harvey's map so had to purchase another for £11. 

Luckily Centurion Running sell all these requirements so we can still run if we forget anything. 

Makes sure to carry cash for moments like this! 

I keep saying it at every race, that I need a check list to follow... 

I really DO need to have this ready for next time, as the mandatory kit and fuel I require is essential to have a smooth and stress free race! 

Shawn, Trey, Myself and Andy

After chatting to Ultra running friends, Shawn, Andy Nuttall, Treymayne 'Dill' Cowdry, Paul Ali and Allan Rumbles it is soon time for the race brief at 9:30. 

This is my 2nd attempt at the Winter 100 and I remember the route well, although I have not recced any of it for this year... The markers are very straight forward and its either the Thames Path Way route or the Ridgeway. 

With the heavy rain this week it is likely the Thames Path will be the muddiest part of the race. 

The night has been very mild and damp, with temperatures already at 18c and the breeze picking up. Tonight it is forcast to be high winds up to 30mph...

Ready and waiting...

Anticipation to start...

After a countdown and swift start onto the Thames Pathway, it all feels very familiar to last year. The gates are rarely shut as so many are tightly pack together up the front. I can see the two front pack runners, then four, six then loose count of the rest up ahead.

After a good few miles the track becomes quite muddy and the grass along the waterside is lumpy and very thick in places. This makes it hard to keep my footing smooth and doesn't help my pace. 

Leg 1.Thames Path

I figure it best to stay around 8:45/9:00 min/mile for the first leg, then see how I am feeling for the the next section..

The route and scenery looks and feels fresh in my mind, like I was running here just a few months ago. It's scary how fast 2014 has gone by... 

The damp humid morning is already making me feel over heated and I am sweating more so than usual. I take an S!Cap salt capsule within an hour of running. 

I feel a little better once I find my pace and flow, but I've yet to feel like I have warmed up into my run like I usually do by now....

The checkpoint and switch back at 12.5 miles is not far away and already I see the super elite front runners racing back towards me... I congratulate and clap as each runner passes. Ed, then David, the third then fourth. 

Soon enough other runners catch up and a small group of us arrive at the aid station together. I can count 18 or so in front of me. 

 Leg 1 returning to Goring

I refill my Salomon bladder pack and have few cups of water before thanking the team and the lovely Bridgette. 

Heading back down the track along the river bank, with runners now approaching in groups more frequently. I smile and wish them well done as we pass. I soon see Andy, then shortly after Shawn. We hi five each other. 

Back along the river bank and through what feels like the tree tunnel, until eventually back on the open grass and into Goring. The route goes down the road where the Morrell Room (previous check point) is then over the bridge and back to base. 

A big groups of supporters are outside on the road to cheers us in to HQ. I spot running friend John who made it down already..

After running for 3hrs and 43 minutes and the first spur on the Thames Path is finished. Currently I am in 20th place.

It is good to see running friends and my crew here. I check my water supply and have few sips of coffee. 

I wave to Sunday, Helen and John as I leave and head onto the Ridgeway route for leg 3. 

This is where it gets more interesting through the woods and with some climbs...

 Leg 2. Heading to Swyncombe

Leg 2. Grims Ditch

I take another salt capsule and some Olive oil along the way. I try to distract my mind and mood with some podcast listening....

At North Stoke, the next check point I see running friend Nick, he checks I am doing ok and if I need anything. I tell him I'm not having a great run at the moment but hope my spirits lift for the return leg...

I take a few Brazil nuts with me and thank the team and Nick. 

Thumbs up on the Ridgeway

Leg 2. Nuffield

I remember the tricky and technical terrain of the route from last year, the woods are misleading and the descents with big tree ruts are brutal. 

I take it steady here and thumbs up to the passing front pack runners, who one by one are returning from this spur already...

Soon enough out from the woods and following the track up to the next check point before the switch back. 

MILE 37.5
Six hours and 12 minutes into my run I reach the turn around aid station, where I see the lovely Alma who greets me with a big hug!

Like last year Alma has a selection of olives and cheeses I can nibble on. Although I am very grateful I am really not that hungry yet and have been doing ok on my salt capsules and some nuts. 

I thank her and take some olives with me for the journey back. 

 Sunset over the Thames in South Stoke

After running for 8hrs and 29 minutes, currently in 21st place and still not feeling the running buzz. Grateful for such a scenic sunset and running this long, yet I am not running with my heart today, just going through the motions it feels like. 

My mood is still low and I need a big kick!

 Leg 2 finished

I change out of my damp top and switch hats, add the head torch and check I have enough batteries on me. 

I swig down some coffee with cream and chocolate espresso beans, anything to give some lift or buzz even!?...

I have a few olives from my chiller box and pack some mini cheese for along the way. Thanking my crew I head on out into the now dark night for the third section and continuing up the Ridgeway.

Fresh clothes ready for leg 3

I have good memories of last year plodding up the steady and lonely climb of the ancient roman road.

I try to keep my pace steady with a marching hike up the steep sections and then make some time up on the flat and downhill.

There are less and less runners to spot now as we find our own pace and spread along the Ridgeway. All that can be seen are the flickering white lights of our head torches as we climb.

The wind is fierce now and has quite a chill to it. The air is misty and damp in places making it feel cooler than it is.

Halfway at Bury Downs its a quick water stop at this aid station and a few cherry tomatoes with cheese, I am ready to keep moving onwards...

The steady incline feels like forever and in places the track seems to end, split, dip and turn off course. The tracks are so old and uneven it almost plays tricks on your mind in the dark.

Far up ahead I can see a cluster of lights but different colours and moving white lights around them. It looks like a ufo or a fun fair on the horizon.

Miles tick by so slowly and the lights still look alien to me. I don't usually hallucinate when running, or at least I don't think I do anymore...

Soon enough I figure out it is the centurion crew at the next aid station and the lights are coming from their brightly neon decorated set up.

It looks fantastic and is so way out there up in the middle of nowhere!

Mile 62.5

I check into the disco gazebo in 19th position. The support and buzz from the team here is like being in a night club, it's brilliant and it helps me forgot my troubles of the race and the remaining miles left to go.

I nibble on some tomatoes and nuts while a very helpful chap refills and changes my light batteries for me as they were getting very dim.

I top up my portable bottle with coffee then thank everyone before heading into the pitch black again...

I have been running for over 11hours now and still cannot shift my low morale. My knees have started to ache coming up the gradual hill and now my ongoing plantar fasciitis has woken up to tell me it hurts!

It's in the heel of my foot and the time on my feet has started to aggrevate it again. I had some time off to let it heal but was aware it could still need longer...

I am starting to wonder if it's wise to finish.... as it will slow me down if it gets more uncomfortable.

The strong winds are really starting to sweep in and the gusts push me in all directions on the wide open stretches

After 66 miles and back at Bury Downs I am really starting to suffer with my PF. It has that dull, bruised ache feeling and with all the hard compact stone terrain beneath, it is just making it feel worse.

I can see lights in the sky ahead and think my eyes are playing tricks on me. I then see red and green and soon realise it is fireworks. They are rather close to the track we are running so I wonder if it is some supporters or families sending out guided lights for everyone.

I play my beats loud to distract my discomfort and just try to numb out any feeling.

I am still not enjoying myself and find this troublesome as I love the running buzz ultra gives.

I'm longer to feel the high and euphoria I usually do...

It just does not come... I say hello and well done to the passing runners, the head lights are a way of keeping me focused and also on track back the way I came...

I hear my name being called and then after the initial blinded by each others lights, I notice it is Shawn on his way up the Ridgeway. We chat about the day and how we are feeling. He has had a few bad spells but nothing he cannot handle.

I tell him my disappointment and how my foot is playing up again. He hopes it improves for the last leg.

So do I.... but I'm loosing faith in this race now as my heart hasn't been in it from the go! We say our goodbyes and good lucks before running off in opposite directions.

The miles tick over slowly and I hike the climbs the best I can at a steady pace.

Even if I do get to finish this 100 it will be a slow death march to do so and I really have my doubts if a good idea. I have a vacation coming up and also 'The Hill Ultra' in December..

Maybe today is not my day to run 100 miles.


Once reaching HQ again after the third leg. I catch up with my crew Sunday and Helen. Jacqui is here as centurion crew and let's me have some of the avocado she saved for Shawn.

I warm up with some coffee and nibble on some cheese. I sit down which I rarely do his late in a race, especially a 100 miler as I worry I won't be able to get up to run again!

After spending far too long doing nothing but think over and over how many hours it would take me to complete, I decide I am not going to carry on.

My PF and mood has been a test all evening and I've decided to make the sensible and wise decision to rest fully and enjoy my time off and vacation.

Leg 1-3. Elevation changes

It is never an easy decision to make for any runner, especially an ultra runner. The words 'did not finish' or term DNF that we all dread to see by your name WILL happen sooner or later.

It is always better to DNF than DNS 'did not start' in my eyes. I really didn't see this as a set back or negative feelings. My body needs the extra time off to recovery and mend, it's not like you can just run 100 miles on a whim like a marathon. It takes so much more than just keeping the legs moving and I think I discovered that today!

This has to be one of my most darkest of races... but one of my most memorable.

I won't forget the thoughts and feelings I experienced in these 14 hours, but I will most certainly use them again as a mental reminder for future races!

I have to... I have plenty of other ultra to set my mind to and I look forward to the next challenge...

Ultra Luke


  1. That was a tough day for you I remeber apart from the recent recovery from the PF, you was not feeling it that day. So I was impressed to see you still with the same head battling it out on the the third leg. That takes some doing.

    1. Very tough to keep going mentally when your heart is not in it then discomfort persists! Cheers Shawn, you did good that day sticking it out...


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