And so on, and so on, for 32.3 brutal miles! The 2011 D.D.
Dave Stone is a bit of a dab hand at this old Dartmoor ultra lark, having ran it 8 times in total and having won in it twice, in 2004 and 2010. Last year he was leading the race for the first 29 miles and another victory looked to be winging its way in his direction, but a back injury that he sustained at work really started to make its unwelcome presence felt in the latter stages of the race and Dave was overtaken with just 2-3 miles left to run by the eventual winner, Dave Tomlin, of the Teignbridge Trotters; though Tomlin's winning time was slower than the times set by our Dave in his two previous D.D. victories. So, you can bet your life that Dave will be all the more fired up to reclaim his throne in 2012. But who's his main competition?
Well, there'll be Dave Tomlin again; Dave has just set a new marathon PB of 2h39 at the Taunton marathon in April this year and he has been focussing on this race and tailoring his training schedule towards it since January. Last year's 3rd placed athlete, Roman Pavlu from the Czech Republic, is also back this year. Now that he is familiar with the course, he will be a hot contender for the title. Adam Holland - the youngest ever runner to complete 100 marathons, all done before age 21 - is also back; however, he only decided to run a few weeks ago and got a place via the waiting list, so his training programme may not have been as focussed as the other three contenders. And of course, this being such an unpredictable race, with unpredictable weather, other unknown pretenders to the throne could find their form on the day and throw themselves into the mix to stir up the competition. Should be an exciting men's race on the day!
For Dave Wright, this is, to the best of my knowledge, his first ultra (correct me if I'm wrong Dave!). Since joining the Harriers his fitness has developed, but so too has his confidence, and he now feels ready to take on the next challenge, beyond your standard 26.2m! However, he's also been doing rather well over the marathon distance of late too, having just obliterated his marathon PB on the North Dorset Villages course in May, to run 3:15:55. The D.D. enforces strict race cut offs at various points along the course and the marathon point is a generous 5h15m. Not only must this give Dave huge confidence that he'll easily be able to complete his first D.D., but it also sets him up for a highly placed finish... if all goes to plan on race day that is! Whatever happens, just committing to a race of this magnetude and doing the training for it is an achievement that needs acknowledging in itself: so Dave, we salute you!
As for me, well, I only started running in summer 2010, completed my first ever marathon in September 2010 and signed up for the 2011 D.D. on a crazed bout of post-marathon euphoria immediately after (easy to do these things when the event is 9 months away!). I ran the North Dorset Villages marathon in May 2011 as a training run, ended up going out too hard and it wrecked my legs for 3 weeks after, putting me back down to only 30 mile training weeks in my final build-up to the race. In short, my preparation for my first ever ultra, and only my 3rd time going to marathon distance, was truly abysmal! Fortunately what I lacked in physical preparation and fitness I made up for with mental tenacity, a competitive spirit and sheer bloody-mindedness! From mile 17 to mile 28 I even found myself leading the ladies' race last year, but at mile 28, on the climb out of Postbridge, the lack of miles in my legs and adequate preparation came to bite me on the back. I was overtaken by the very talented FV45 athlete, Diane Roy of East Cornwall Harriers, as she left me for dead on the hill, in the heat, and ran on to take the win. So, like Dave, I am also fired up for victory this year, but what are my odds?
If I were to bet on myself, I'd say I was 'evens', at best! Last year's winner, Di Roy, has sadly been ruled out of the running having just sustained a foot injury. Had she been competing this year though, I don't think she'd have been my main rival; that acolade goes to Isobel Wykes from Truro AC. Having won the Duchy Marathon in March and then a week later coming out again, stronger than ever, to win the Grizzly by a huge margin, this is one talented lady. She's got years of experience on me and has previously competed in 100ks. I have only faced her in a race once, and that was the Plymouth Hoe 10 mile this February where she finished 14 seconds ahead of me. Incidentally, my marathon PB is 14 seconds faster than hers. This could make for an interesting battle on the day! Also, just to mention, I will actually be running for my second claim club, Teignbridge Trotters, for this race. As there are no other female Harriers competing and the Trotters have enough females to make up 2 teams, I will be donning a different royal blue vest... please don't hate me!
Dave Stone and Ellie Sutcliffe, all smiles before the start of the 2011 D.D.
For more information on the race, click the following link:
There is a link on this website to the D.D. magazine, which gives you a map of the course. If any Harriers are free on Saturday 9th June and fancy a relaxing day on Dartmoor, I'm sure us 3 runners would appreciate some support on route! But please, if you do come to support, we just kindly ask that you don't waft your chilled glass of lager in our faces - we don't need any encouragement to throw in the towel and drift off course into a beer garden!!