After a bit of thought and now that the ballots have been done and the nifty applications made and so on I've managed to sketch out a programme for the year. Last year I did 8 ultras and 2 marathons, and while that's nowhere near in Nick Ham or Jon Steele country, it was probably a shade too much for this particular runner, so this year I'm going for a bit less volume in the hope that it might improve the quality. That's the theory at least. So here's the plan.
17 March - Hardmoors 55 (54 miles)
This the only race for which I can claim to have run all of them (well, both actually) and it's a fine outing. Time to catch up with the Man of Steele himself and see how his plan to run an ultra every week of the year is going. First long run of the year, no time ambitions, just enjoy it, aim to finish not too long after nightfall.
I'm still thinking that I might do a marathon around mid April, I've done two a year for quite a few years, but haven't seen one yet where the appeal, the date, and the cost are all in line.
28 April - Highland Fling (53 miles)
Done the last 5, wouldn't miss it.
12 May - BGR
No I'm not going for a full Bob Graham, I'm not sure my knees are still up to it these days, but a few of the West Highland Way gang are targetting this weekend for an attempt and I've volunteered to pace and navigate the three middle stages. That should be quite enough of a workout, and I don't want to get too knackered as I'm off to Croatia on the 13th for a week's climbing.
23 June - West Highland Way (95 Miles)
As for the Fling, wouldn't miss it. This year I'll see if it's possible to get a bit under my PB of 23:34.
28 July - Lakeland 50 (48 miles)
The Lakeland 100 is probably the premier ultra of the UK now, but for me it's too tough to just turn up and do every year. It's a great weekend though so I've entered the much easier 50 just to stay part of it. Still quite burly for a UK 50. The aim is to finish in a respectable time in good shape.
9 September - Tor des Geants
This was my Plan B if I was unlucky in the UTMB ballot. I'd heard that it filled up in 4 days last year and as these things tend to gather momentum fast I was on to the site about ten minutes after entries opened. I looked in again later the same day to find it was already full; I subsequently found out that it filled up 27 minutes after opening. All this keenness for a little jaunt 200 miles long and with 24,000 metres of ascent. But at least there's enough time to have a few sleeps along the way so it should be my kind of trip. Sounds like an adventure, can't wait.
Probably no Autumn marathon either this year as I'm hoping to fix a climbing trip to the US in early October, no great loss this year I think.
20 October - Rotherham Round (50 miles)
Lovely event now it's fixed in mid Autumn. This will be my 4th time around.
Nothing definite for the closing stages of the year yet. I enjoyed the Brecons Ultra in November last year, but not enough to want to do it again. Maybe I'll try Glen Ogle. Then we'll be back to the shortest day and hopefully there will be another Tour de Helvellyn.
It looks good from here, I'm looking forward to the year ahead.