Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Winning times for The Hill 2014, GUCR 2015 and The Oner 2015


Do you want to know what the winning times will be for the Hill Ultra this weekend? How about for the Grand Union Canal Race or the Oner next year? Well I think I have them. Using cutting edge new brands of mathematical science known as Holgateonometry, Robbinsation and Braggulus I have manged to calculate these times to perfection. So, without further ado.....

The Hill Ultra last year proved that in order to finish you require one thing and one thing only - to be able to run up and down the same hill in Derbyshire 55 times in under 48 hours. Seems simple enough, but only one man was able to do it - Jon Steele, who cut it pretty fine in a time of 47-and-a-half hours. So who do we have in the field this year who we can estimate is able to do something similar judging by his ability to keep plodding out the miles relentlessly? My tip for the victory is Chris Ette, who has finished the Thames Ring 250 miler, as well as ridiculous numbers of back-to-back Ironman triathlons and has recently completed an epic canoeing challenge, not the Amazon, it was the even more imposing Devizes to Westminster canoe don't laugh, there are rats in that canal. Probably.

So, using a bit of Robbinsation (Pat Robbins being a man who can relentlessly churn out miles like few others), we can see that Pat's best Grand Union Canal Race time is 25:37, which would equate to an average of 10.36 per mile, and he finished Spartathlon in 27:09, which is an average of 10.39 per mile. Not much in it at all; these are races of fairly similar distance, but other factors come into play with Spartathlon such as the heat, the hills, the cut-offs, the stiffer competition etc. but some of those factors could work either for or against someone, and so overall let's say one's effort in one of these races represents a pretty good comparison for what they can do in another.

Using Robbinsation, let's take Ette's Thames Ring time of 85 hours and 30 minutes. This equates to an average of 20.31 per mile. In Thames Ring you're allowed to have a kip if you want, but it is a very long way, but it is pancake flat, but it is a VERY long way. The Hill is not flat, but according to Mark Cockbain is still very runnable, and you're not allowed to stop for more than 30 minutes at a time at any point, so with all of these variables factored in let's say the time Chris took over Thames Ring and the time he will take over The Hill may have a discrepancy of about three minutes per mile, and so the estimated finish time for the winner of The Hill Ultra 2014 is......

46 hours and 43 minutes (rounded up)

Now, let's move on to Grand Union Canal Race 2015. The favourite surely has to be Mark Perkins, who ran 14 hour and 13 hour 100 milers within a couple of months of each other in 2014. As far as I know he's never raced anything of GUCR's distance, and so we will have to factor this in. What kind of comparison could we be looking at though? Well, time for a bit of Holgateonometry. Craig Holgate, the man whose name is that of a major toothpaste brand if you take away a few letters, and like Sparky P is a very fast ultra runner, ran the North Downs Way 50 in 6:47 in 2013 (8.08 per mile.) Now, that course is pretty hilly, but he does describe it as a race when he felt great from start to finish, so is probably fairly reflective of Sparky P's 13 hour 100 miler (13:06 to be precise.)  Holgate's first 100 miler was the Thames Trot in 2012, which he finished in 15:11 (9.07 per mile.) As he'd never raced the distance before he wasn't at absolute full throttle, and probably wasn't drinking tequila straight from the bottle (just put that in because it rhymed), so using Holgateonometry we can guess that Sparky P will not be at full throttle on GUCR, but will still not be going massively slower than he would for a 100 miler. So factoring in the huge distance, let's say Perkins will be a minute-and-a-half per mile slower for GUCR than he was for Berlin, and he's going to set a stellar course record that will really take some beating. So, the predicted finishing time for the winner of GUCR 2015 is......

22 hours and 38 minutes (rounded down)

Ok, so the third one is pure speculation. I have no idea if Jez Bragg is aiming to enter the Oner in 2015, but he set a new course record, along with his mate John Sharkey, at the Dorset Doddle in 2014 and so you never know. Let's say he is. Ok, so Jez had UTMB on the horizon when he did the 32 mile Dorset Doddle, which features a lot of the harshest bits of the Oner course. His time was 4:47 (08.58 per mile.) This may not seem super fast for an athlete like Jez, and it may have just been a training run but let me tell you there are some pretty epic climbs on that course, and there are quite a few steps and things. It's certainly not an easy one. His best time for Western States so far was 15:55 (09.33 per mile), which was good enough for 4th place in 2011 behind Kilian Jornet, Mike Wolfe and Nick Clark. Let's say if he gave the Oner a good go his time would probably be somewhere between the two. If he went for it then no-one else would get near him. Some good athletes have run the Oner before, but never anyone quite in Mr Bragg's class, so for this Braggulus equation we will have to take his previous performances to calculate his own. I'd say 9.15 per mile is a pretty good guess, and so over the 80 mile course the winning time for Jez in the Oner 2015 is......

12 hours and 20 minutes

This would be a new course record by (I think) over 4 hours, and would be extremely hard to beat. So there you have it - we're going to see some amazing performances over the next six months or so. If I get all of these winning times right then I get a free entry into the race of my choice.....right???

My book 'Everything Will Work Out in the Long Run', about how ultra running helped me to put the hazy days of 2001 behind me after I nearly ruined my long term health and sanity, is available via the following link......

There are some reviews and a full synopsis via the link. Here's a couple of short extracts: -
""If she threw that gel 99 more times I’m fairly certain it would bounce off my hand and fly into the face of a passing policeman, but on that day I perhaps subconsciously remembered how my dad used to catch those eggs and barely breaking stride I made a basket with my hands and clasped them round the gel in mid-air. I then sprinted ahead, calling “Hey, mate in the green!” The runner turned round looking a little annoyed but then as I handed the gel to him he looked at me with a mixture of gratitude and disbelief and gave genuine thanks."
""I was a bit of a control freak as the band leader, perhaps to compensate for my lack of control over the football team, it being obvious to everyone that another Dave was a far better player. Having the name Dave means that nearly every time I am out in public I will hear someone call my name but it won’t be my attention they’re trying to get. Most people are called Dave really. Glastonbury festival in the late 90s/early 2000s was a nightmare. “Dave! Dave!! Dave!!!” but it was never for me, and when it was I didn’t bother looking round. I think I lost a few friends at those festivals."

1 comment:

  1. hmmm, neither races you mention are in winter. The hill is & I think this will screw up any predictions. Nice blog though. If you write one predicting i win the spine, based on my layers of fat insulating me from the weather I'll buy the book again :-)