The Spine Race 2016 – Kit Notes


Another list for the kit geeks, you know who you are.


I’m a top down sort of person, so let’s start with my head torch.

For reasons I’ve forgotten, most excellent reasons I’m sure, I bought a Petzl Nao with a spare battery.

I’d read that batteries don’t like the cold much, so I also bought the extension cable so I could keep them nice and warm (assuming I wasn’t also frozen).

I also threw in an old Petzl Tikkina for backup, and a Petzl Elite for emergencies (at 35g it seemed silly not to).

I don’t really know why I didn’t use my trusty Led Lenser, which has very useful dim (to save power) and narrow focus (to spot those elusive national trail signs) features. Probably because the battery compartment is a bit fiddly and the little Petzl was more self contained.

The Nao lit up the surrounding area really well, it was like a floodlight and I needn’t have worried about the lack of beam focus.

Battery life was, ok ish. I was pretty disappointed when the first one lasted only 5 hours, I’m sure lesser torches go 12 hours on 3 AAAs. The second one lasted 6, and after that I just planned accordingly, making sure I always had a backup in place.

Next time I’ll take 3 batteries, and after seeing various multi USB chargers in CPs, I’ll be taking one of those too (in a busy CP you’ll be lucky to get one plug, and I also lost one of my adapters, not helpful).

This setup worked pretty well, though due to my close fitting pack the only potential home for the batteries and spare torch was a small area at the top of my chest. Uncomfortable at first, but with enough time you can get used to anything (probably anything).

For more excellent reasons I had at least 4 hats packed (I was expecting rain), but only wore one.

This was made from super soft possum wool, transported by my lovely mother from New Zealand a few years ago.

It was really warm, even when wet (but dried out quickly), long enough to pull down over my ears when I needed it to, and was my almost permanent comfortable head wrapping companion.

Until David Lee commented:

It looks like a really itchy hat that, is it itchy? It looks it.

It wasn’t. Then it was.  Really itchy (I’d had other things to think about). At that late stage in the race I wasn’t going to ditch my new best mate, so itch on we did.

When I was buying a new dry bag at Snow and Rock, I noticed some buffs by the till and grabbed one. Total spontaneous purchase that turned out to be spot on.

The (weirdly named) Turtlefur was really warm, and tight enough to pull up your face when needed, but not so tight that you get panicky moments of feeling that you’re being strangled (I’m looking at you, Nike Thermal Neck Warmer).

I like the idea of merino wool buffs, so much so that I’ve got 3, but after about 10 minutes they seem to droop down and provide no neck comfort whatsoever. I kept an inov8 one handy though, for the two occasions when it was too hot for my wonder-hat, but too cold to expose ones bonce completely.



Two Helly Hansen “warm” baselayers that I rotated, an OMM Rotor smock to keep in my pack and don for the chillier sections, and a bullet proof North Face Summit Series goretex jacket with the bestest tent like hood ever.

Oh, I wore Bontrager arm warmers (snaffled from my bike kit) because forearms don’t do much when you’re walking and mine always get cold.

Nearly forgot my Patagonia primaloft gilet, which I wore nearly all the time.

Why I didn’t feel the need to add another layer to my upper arms I don’t know, I only just realised they’d been left out actually, but they didn’t complain so don’t see any need to change this setup.

I love all this kit, and with the exception of the OMM smock I’ve had it all for years and it’s all been thoroughly battle tested in ultras, endurance sailing and skiing.

The HH warm tops are close fitting and made from merino wool. I was warm and dry at all times. Apart from once when I thought I had hypothermia.


It was on the way to Bryness and I could actually feel icy tendrils of doom snaking their way round my sides and clutching my chest. Pretty scary to be honest, and precipitated my only (short) run of the race in a desperate attempt to warm up.

Like a fool I’d left the underarm vents on my jacket open after getting a bit hot earlier and had completely forgotten.

That’s what 12 hours sleep in 6 days will do to you. It took me a while to warm up, even with my heart still hammering away.

Still, this is a good demonstration of making sure you’ve got decent kit and are confident in its abilities. All it took was a couple of drafts and I was being slowly frozen, even whilst marching hard through the snow.

Having managed to borrow a lightweight PHD sleeping bag for the race, I splashed out on a new pack. After enduring considerable agony on the challenger with my cheapo, not fit for purpose, overstuffed rucksack, I was hoping to do better this time.

Aarn packs first came onto my radar a couple of years ago when chatting to Papa Ferret before he started his Spine attempt. I was very intrigued by the size of the front pouches, and the number of straps and fiddly bits.

From the reviews I could find, people were generally very happy, “once you got it adjusted correctly”, which was enough for me – surely I could get it right with a week of constant use. There were a few useful videos on their website too.

I went for the Mountain Magic 22L, deciding against the larger one as I figured I’d just end up taking more stuff.

The pack itself is a bit heavy, around 1KG, so the challenge was to add as little extra weight as possible, whilst making sure I had everything I needed in an emergency.

Setting aside all non essentials I got it down to about 8KG including food and water, much better than the 14KG I lugged round on the challenger.

The two 1L pouches on the front of the pack, coupled with an insulated bladder and hose, meant that aside from adding/removing layers, I didn’t need to take it off at all.

My hose still froze (oo-er missus), -15C takes some serious insulating against, but I had a couple of 250ml soft flasks that mostly survived the cold, presumably the movement helped.

After much deliberation I went with a super basic sleeping mat, a bog-standard foam roll-up job. Not particularly compact, but at around 200g and providing cushioning and warmth for a small handful of £s, it was a no brainer.

My bivvy bag was a non breathable basic something or other, but very light and waterproof.  Condensation was a problem but the only time I used it I also had my waterproofs on, so that didn’t matter.

I know that breathing outside of the bag prevents that, but it was condensation or frostbite. Another easy choice.

I threw in a silk liner just for that extra bit of warmth, and it definitely helped. The main downside is that it’s not stretchy, so couldn’t really be “snuggled” down into. Anyway it’s main use this time was to keep mud out of my sleeping bag, and as Shippo pointed out, a bin liner would do that job just as well.

I bought some SealSkinz waterproof mittens for the challenger, but they weren’t going to be enough on their own, even though I don’t tend to suffer from cold hands. After some research I bought a pair of Montane Via Trail gloves, which turned out to be ideal.

The description said they come up a bit small, which in reality meant that they were close fitting enough to maintain dexterity – tying shoelaces for example. They also have sections of conductive thread, so you can operate your favourite touch screen device.

Having two pairs of gloves was great, it gave me an easy way to regulate temperature (sometimes just removing one mitten was enough to cool me down) and meant that when I needed to fiddle and faff, my hands didn’t freeze completely solid.

Next time I’d take something to clip my mittens to though, I dropped one a couple of times and it was sheer luck that there happened to be someone behind me who picked it up.

Before I forget about touch screens, a note on phones and battery life.

Switching my iPhone 6 to 2G mode and enabling low power mode meant that I only needed to charge it a couple of times, and managed to take a few photos and send the occasional text.

The real cellular workhouse was a very basic Samsung (£10 from Tesco) which kept me in touch with the outside world and still had battery left at the end of the week. It took me bloody ages to get used to predictive text again though.



Again, I’d packed a pair of leggings for each leg (of the race!), but ended up wearing pretty much the same combo for the whole week.

I did have a few pairs of decathlon wicking pants though, there are limits to recycling, even when racing. These are amazing, and coupled with some body glide meant the end of chafed nether regions.

Unlike Mr Valentine, who entertained us during the trudge up to Malham Tarn with an innovative use for a buff.

Some un-lubricated, persistent, bollock on thigh action had rendered both areas excruciatingly painful. We’ve all been there, and the thought of stopping is very high on the list of outcomes.

Not when you have a handy buff! Just wrap it round your thigh and scamper on happily.

Buff! Top to tail protection, from cold, wind and friction!

Don’t forget to put that buff in the special do-not-recycle bag.

In fact we bumped into an unhappy lad at one point who was suffering from the same affliction, I wonder if he took the advice.

I wore some new 3/4 length inov8 leggings under the extraordinarily awesome Rab eVent over trousers.

My legs were warm and dry throughout, and if the lower bit ever got wet, they soon dried out due to the excellent breathability of the fabric.

I picked up a few minor rips round the ankles, which given how many sharp things they encountered isn’t too bad (including my own knife, embarrassingly, whilst cutting off lumps of frozen mud).



The long seal skinz and injinji liner sock combo worked well on the Challenger, and I saw no reason to risk something different.

Your feet do eventually get wet, and if you’re dunking them in icy muddy water for hours on end, they do get cold as well.

On the whole however, my feet felt warm and comfortable. I changed liner socks at every CP and outer socks half way (along with shoes).

I can’t remember where I picked up the tip, but the first thing I did at a checkpoint was to get shoes and socks off and flip flops on. Pretty sure that this really helped prevent blisters.

Speaking of which I managed get two, one tiny one on my heel which didn’t cause any bother, and one huge deep one on the outside of my foot. No idea how it happened, and though it was sore if I poked it, or side kicked a rock, didn’t cause a fuss.

Seeing the big puddle of blood when it was lanced was slightly disconcerting, but an interesting new experience to tell the future grandkids.

My trusty (and still slightly too small for the double sock setup) inov8 trailrocks rose to the occasion, and a good friend lent (gave, nobody lends trail shoes) me a slightly bigger pair.

Having lost nearly all my toenails, I might invest in some even bigger ones for next year, though that won’t stop there being an abundance of highly kickable rocks along most of the route.


And eyes

Goggles were part of the mandatory kit list, and after a load of people dropped out last year from semi frozen eye balls (!?!), they seemed like a valuable item to have.

Obviously I just chucked my trusty 7 year old ski goggles in the bag, safe in the knowledge that they worked fine a year ago on some bright sunny French Alps.

Eh, no. I could barely see a thing, especially with the dearth of sunshine. Luckily I was able to twist my hood round and deflect the artic gale away from my face.

Recently I bought some new swimming goggles (Aqua Sphere Vista), they’re almost like something you’d wear scuba diving, I might take them next year, or something small enough to fit in a front pouch – I saw one person with little round goggles with leather sides, maybe not, they looked a bit creepy.

I’m generally pretty hopeless at sleeping so bought a fancy eye mask to use in checkpoints. The Bedtime Bliss from Natural Revolution was top of the list on Amazon which I think just means that you pay over the odds, but I’d had enough of price checking by then and just went for it.

Turned out to be bloody brilliant! Not a peep of light gets in and it’s super comfortable.

And ears

Whilst on the subject of sleeping, I did a bit more research and ordered a bag of Howard Leight Laser Lite ear plugs, another awesome purchase and now that spring is finally here they’re doing a great job of letting me sleep though the dawn chorus.

My hat was long enough to cover my ears and kept them toasty. On the rare occasion that I got slightly too warm, I could roll it up and let the breeze in.

This had the unfortunate side effect of making me look a bit like a binman however, which is something to be avoided when the Racing Snakes photographer was constantly popping out from behind walls and bushes.


And mouth

Somehow I managed to forget lip salve! Luckily my mother in law came to the rescue with that and a load of food for the race, I just wish I’d taken more of the fruit cake, it was a perfect blend of just-right sweetness and not too hard or too soft.

These things are important towards the end of a long slog!

I listed a load of food on my main report, but here it is again:

In my pack (replenished at CPs):

  • Pepperami – went off these very quickly, going to take proper French sausage next time
  • Snickers – obviously
  • Wine gums – first time on a race, good addition
  • Cooked pizza – didn’t seem to mind being in my bag for the best part of a week, went down very well
  • Beef jerky – fresh, from the savanna at London Bridge in London, separated into a freezer bag per leg
  • 9bars – threw them away, too sweet
  • Shotblox – given to me by a friend of Tonys (I think), awesome, need lots for next time, had forgotten how easy they are to get down
  • Decathlon cereal bars – basic but ok
  • Lucozade gels – not much to say: they work
  • Fruitcake – top of list next year
  • UCAN super starch (plain) – it works and saves having to eat too much actual food. Anything other than plain makes me retch though. Had 5 little bags, one per CP
  • Salted peanuts – another first, lovely

I read somewhere that Ian Bowles took whole blocks of feta cheese with him, cracking idea.

In my drop bag:

  • Extra portions of all of the above
  • Expedition foods, spag Bol, macaroni cheese,…
  • Small pots of ambrosia rice pudding – my stomach has never been in a bad enough place to refuse one of these, life savers
  • Bought/foraged in the wild (not including checkpoints, the noodle bar or the Bryness B&B here)
  • Chicken sandwich from the awesome Bill and Janet who tracked and intercepted me in Lothersdale
  • Steak slice from the COOP in Gargrave, so hot it burnt my mouth, could’ve done without that, also topped up on snickers
  • Large bowl of chilli and rice, washed down with a black coffee in the Pen y Ghent cafe outside Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I also picked up a replacement sleeping mat here.
  • Massive plate of food in the Tan Hill Inn
  • Multiple bags of crisps and pints of orange and lemonade in Duftons Stag Inn

Almost stopped at the Twice Brewed off Hadrians Wall, but decided to make the most of daylight and pushed on, Stevies crew gave us some bacon and eggs, which was lovely

I’d definitely make sure to have at least two bags of heatable food before setting off over the Cheviots, one for each hut.


And nose

Some people seem to spit a lot when they run, I just produce a lot of mucus. I don’t know the reasons for either, but both are pretty disgusting.

The combination of that, with a propensity for nose bleeds (despite an operation when I was 16), meant that I tended to arrive at checkpoints etc with a frozen, bloody, snotty mess on my face.

I thought about taking a balaclava next year, which gives me the option of looking like a ninja (in my mind), a terrorist (everyone else’s mind), or an assault victim.

Not sure which is best really, but no doubt the inhabitants of the Stag Inn in Dufton wouldn’t bat an eyelid. They seem so used to spiners arriving in various states of disarray, and would probably just make you some room by the fire, regardless of what you looked like.

Think that’s it!

(Full report)


Upping The Ante; Why I Entered The UKs Most Brutal Race

pre race

I needed a hobby, at least I thought I did. It wasn’t that I was bored, a twenty something in London has plenty of distractions, it was just that I needed something to focus my jumble of thoughts. Something to stop them from ricocheting off the inside of my eyes.

Writing software was one option, I had no shortage of ideas for websites. But I already spent all day hunched over a keyboard, tapping out line after line of algorithms and business logic for a ‘certain to be the next big thing’ start-up telecoms firm. Any more of this and I was sure to turn into a full-blown, out-and-out computer nerd.

The pub was an excellent distraction, it calmed my swirling mind, and there was never a shortage of drinking partners.

Ah, the pub. The lovely, lovely pub. A dear friend on the surface, but sadly one that doesn’t really have your best interests at heart.

An expanding waistline and a chance conversation with a recently reconnected Brummy friend, and running was suddenly something I was going to do. Maybe this could be my hobby?

In keeping with how I approach most things in life, I embraced this new pastime with arms wide enthusiasm and went at it with everything I had.

Typical “too much too soon” injuries followed, but after a few years my body settled down, and I started training for The Fell Race (there is only one worth mentioning, like The Marathon).

I’d never been all that interested in the Paps when I lived on Jura, fell running and young teenagers aren’t an obvious pairing. Now that I was a Runner however, the lure of the challenge was drawing me in.

Trundling around my now favourite 20 mile loop which took in the West End of London and many Thames river sights, I noticed that something strange had happened to my body.

It was a bit sore, but seemed to want to keep going. Not fast you understand, but not walking either.

“Just to see if I could”, I rapidly increased my long run distance, and a few weeks later clocked up 26.2 miles in 4 hours.

The subsequent euphoria damped the complaints of my (now very sore) legs, and I dreamily contemplated a future of long distance running.

It turned out that running produces endorphins (endogenous morphine – say no more!) which not only give you a nice post run boost, but imbue you with a calm and gentle feeling of wellbeing. The perfect antidote to working on a busy and aggressive trading floor (which is where all that tapping had taken me).

Some years passed, I accrued running paraphernalia (garmin watches, heart rate monitors), obsessed about nutrition, gained and lost weight, and entered the odd race here and there.

Dimly at first, I became aware of something called “ultras”, or more precisely ultra marathons. These were foot races longer than a marathon, typically at least 30 miles but apparently there was no upper limit.

Someone at work had started doing them, I thought there was something wrong with him, he didn’t even look all that fit.

Running a marathon was hard, ‘AL’ Fell Races were even harder (category A, long. Jura falls into this classification), why on earth would anyone want to do anything even harder than that? The whole idea was preposterous.

The seed wouldn’t go away though, as much as I tried to ignore the idea of these races, the ridiculous concept kept finding it’s way into my thoughts.

Inevitably I gave in (home alone with a bottle of wine and the internet, I’m not the first and won’t be the last to do something silly in that situation). The dusk till dawn ultra marathon sounded perfect.

I was keen to minimise time away from my (now) wife and small child, so the idea of an overnight race was ideal. Sleep deprivation was something I’d been practicing, (unintentionally, babies force that upon you), so that aspect didn’t bother me much.

Neither did the facts that it was to take place in October, was 50 miles long, entirely on muddy hilly trails in the Peak District, and was the inaugural running of the event.

They should have caused me some pause, as it turned out to be really hard (and cold, and wet).

I finished though, in a respectable position. Other than a few scrapes and aches I didn’t suffer particularly afterwards, and felt, quite frankly, invincible.

Without really seeking them out, I stumbled into various races over the next few years, invariably longer and tougher than the ones before.

They were all hard, and I swore I’d never run an ultra again through gritted teeth a few times, but the memory of pain fades quickly, and more challenges duly presented themselves.

Which brings me finally to The Spine Race.

I don’t know where or how I first heard of it, but the mere suggestion of taking part made me feel physically sick. No other race had done that before!

The details don’t sound all that bad:

  • 268 miles of trails, in the UK, in winter
  • 31,000 foot of ascent and descent (Mount Everest is only 29,000 by the way)
  • A generous sounding 7 days (and nights) to complete the route

The description from the website adds a bit more colour however:

The MONTANE® Spine® Race is a 268 mile, non-stop, uncompromising winter challenge encompassing the entire Pennine Way. Widely recognised as one of the most demanding National Trails in Britain. The Pennine Way crosses some of the most beautiful and, at times difficult terrain found in England, including; the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park – finishing on the Scottish Borders.

The MONTANE® Spine® Race is open to anyone with appropriate experience* who wishes to test themselves and compete in a truly demanding race. Expect to race through extreme weather, deep snow, ice, mud, bogs, strong winds and rain in a gruelling non-stop, 7 day race from Edale to Kirk Yetholm.

It’s not just the conditions that are against you – your own body could become your worst enemy with tiredness, fatigue, sleep deprivation, exposure and the general pains of wear and tear playing havoc with your performance. To finish you must be prepared and willing to push yourself harder than ever before.

Ok, that was more like it. Throw in the fact that only 25% of starters typically get to the finish, and you have something that sounds really preposterous.

I turn 40 this year, and what better way to celebrate such a significant milestone than by putting myself through the most gruelling ordeal I could find, and pay cash for it too.

After months of fretting and feverish planning I toed the muddy line in Edale with 67 other athletes (I’m calling myself that now!) on Saturday the 9th of January, and gently trotted off into the unknown.

4 hours shy of 7 days later, I touched the wall of the pub that marks the end of the Pennine Way, in Scotland.

I was physically exhausted, had found places in my mind I didn’t know existed, and was sobbing like a child.

I’d done it.

That was nearly two months ago, and so far at least, I have no desire to up the ante on this one.

Mind you, I met someone who went there and back, so there’s a thought…

[Full report here]

South Downs Way 50 – Race Report


Go out fast and hang on as long as possible

When that’s your last minute race plan, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re not going to have a “fun” day.

First woke up at 2am when the child got into bed with me. Alarm went off at 4:40, ten minutes later managed to rouse myself wondering what I was thinking drinking a bottle of wine last night and staying up past midnight. Rookie errors all round.
Make brekkie and stumble into a cab, making sure not to forget bag of mini saucisson: race food experimentation.

Nice journey to Worthing with the other horses from the stable.

Everyone spends most of the journey eating and moving kit between race packs and drop bags.

Starts to rain when we arrive, which suits me fine.

The rain looks like it might stay away and the forecast is good, means more kit shuffling – we’re going to be hot very soon as the route goes straight up a hill.

Surprised by how many people there are at registration, feels very different from other UK trail races I’ve done.

All very well organised though and it’s not long before we’re off.

Bump into Mark from the spine, ask him how his feet are then quickly apologise, no doubt he’s had enough of that question (though if you’ve seen the photos you’d ask too, stuff of nightmares).

Concentrate on overtaking as many people as possible, running faster than I have since last August, heart rate over 170 which feels weird after months of SLOW training at 136.

Weather clears up, feeling happy and sprightly and keep up a good pace into CP1 at 11 miles.

Don’t stop and head straight off up the next hill, nibbling sausages.

The glute I tore two weeks ago has set up a persistent complaint, the other one and both hamstrings soon join in.

Decide to ignore them and keep pushing on, despite inevitable telling off from physio and subsequent lingering pain.

Pass the fields of pigs, respectfully wait until I’m out of sight before having another sausage.

Get to next CP at the 17 mile point, top up water, grab 2 biscuits and a jelly baby and head off into the rapidly warming day.

Starting to feel a bit heavy and sluggish, the wine from last night and lack of training adding to the cacophony of “body parts requiring attention”.

Actually realise am feeling decidedly peculiar. Very hot, very heavy and on the verge of being sick. Decide to slow down and force some food down, and drink more. Very aware that it’s far too early in the day to vomit and still make it to the finish.

Soon pass a digger and a massive mound of stinking black stuff, speculate that it must be condensed farmyard excrement. It takes a lot of willpower to keep what little food I have in my stomach, in my stomach.

Spend some time thinking that the sloshing from my water bottle is very annoying and it needs to be upgraded to a soft flask like the other one, even if letting the excess coke fizz out does feel like you’re milking yourself. Disconcerting, but makes me laugh.

Feeling better arrive at CP3, 27 miles. Look at the ham sandwiches, stomach says no, take a bite anyway. Whole body says no, compromise on two biscuits and a jelly baby. Head back out up yet another hill.

Relish the thought that it’s over half way. Concentrate on keeping the pace up and drinking water. Eat the odd sausage and some shot blox.

Remind myself for the hundredth time today that I must buy new trail shoes, 500 miles isn’t so bad, but after 5 years they have zero cushioning left and I can feel every pebble on the amply pebbled trails.

Next couple of CPs come and go, fill up with coke and water, supplement the biscuit diet with a cherry tomato and a couple of satsuma segments. Worry that there is going to be a lot of leftovers.

Skip the last CP as only 4 miles to the end, slide down the sticky muddy path to Eastbourne and push as hard as I can along the horrible flat road to the end.

Can’t stomach anything other than the food of champions at this point (snickers), luckily always have a few stuffed in my pockets.

Knew about the lap of the track at the finish, but still seems like a cruel joke.

Finish in 8h 47m, 72nd finisher. Chuffed.

Very surprised to find my fellow stablemates cheering and hugging me, wtf? Surely I would have noticed them coming past me? After some confused questions realise they dropped out at 27m and got a cab to the end.

Shower, hot dog then back on train to London (with wine).

Despite feeling ropey for a while, and the lack of training making everything hurt much more than it should have, had a good day out.

Very well organised and amazing support. Definitely up for more races at this distance, very pleasant contrast to the spine.

Wish I’d put some sun cream on though, ouch.

Oh, and the sausage experiment?  Nice and tasty, but a little too strong after a while – need something milder…

[obligatory strava link]

SDW50 – A View From The Stables

pre race

Spring is threatening to show its face in the UK, and as such marks the start of my offices Ultra Squad racing season for 2016.

We’ve got three horses saddled up and ready to hit the trails of the South Downs Way early tomorrow morning.

50 miles of well-marked national trail, in a decently sized field. Hosted by Centurion Running, the SDW 50 is quickly becoming very popular, with all places selling out ridiculously fast.

For a bit of fun, here is a bit of pre-race commentary along with some ranking predictions from a horse’s mouth.


To avoid getting too carried away, the focus is on each animals relative ranking in their gender category from their publically available data on Statistik DUV

A score of 1 translates to a win, score of 0.5 is firmly mid-pack, and a score of 0 gets the last finisher prize.

By supplementing this sparse data set with rumours and observations, I will give my guesses for where our horses will finish in Saturdays race.

First up, TurboHarris

Looking at historical results, it’s clear that Turbo has a preference for long, hot, sandy races, placing highly in the 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Marathon Des Sable races.

The usually soggy and slippery routes in the UK seem to have slowed the pace somewhat, though having said that, racing a staggering total distance of 556 miles last year didn’t seem to do any harm to the final race, with a 0.3 placing, up 15% from the NDW just a few months earlier.

Turbo doesn’t disclose her training data, but has been quietly putting in some serious training mileage this year, narrowly missing out on completing the whole February “Run Till You Drop” challenge. However the poker faced investment banker has been heard muttering phrases like “this is a pure training race”, and “oh gosh I’m so unfit”.

Take these with a pinch of salt, just look at the raw data:

Race Stats

2012 – 156m

    0.58 (45/107) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

2013 – 261m

    0.66 (48/143) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

    0.23 (17/22) in NDW (May, 50m)

    0.44 (1105/1957) in Comrades (up) (Jun, 54m)

2014 – 252m

    0.83 (22/128) in MdS (Apr, 152m)

    0.08 (22/24) in TP (May, 100m)

2015 – 556m

    0.78 (40/185) in MdS (Apr, 156m)

    0.42 (14/24) in TP (May, 100m)

    0.29 (24/34) in SDW (Jun, 100m)

    0.15 (22/26) in NDW (Aug, 100m)

    0.30 (21/30) in Autumn (Oct, 100m)

Verdict? The SDW doesn’t play to Turbos strengths, being too short and lacking any sand or sun, but don’t be fooled by the self-deprecation, the monikor is no accident and expect a rank of at least 0.4, that translates into a placing of 63/105.

Next out of the stable, RaketeGnodtke

Rakete is something of a wild card here, with only a smattering of races to his name, but a serious uptick in placement since arriving in the ultra-scene in 2014.

The only horse to have completed this race before (though all are familiar with the route, from non-public races and the SDW 100), should give a small advantage too.

The word in the stables is that this creature has almost convinced it’s peers (and itself) that not only is it lame, but has a hoof stress fracture. No vet has been contacted yet though, so the jury is out as to whether this falls into the psyche category too – nobody is showing their cards.

The Rocket will be riding tandem with his brother on Saturday, on his inaugural 50 mile race, just to further complicate the data.

Race Stats

2014 – 150m

    0.12 (226/258) in SDW (Apr, 50m)

    0.18 (80/97) in NDW (Aug, 100m)

2015 – 100m

    0.43 (90/158) in TP (May, 100m)

Verdict? The beast has potential, but with a lack of 2016 training and a potentially dodgy hoof, I’m going with a conservative rank of 0.25, a placing of 267/357

Lastly, and most leastly, Latimeistro

This horse was showing incredible potential this time last year, taking a number 3 spot in a 12 hour race.

It all went south after that, with a spate of injuries, gluttony and lethargia all conspiring to massively restrict training.

The spine race came and went, a decent placing but it was a slog over a long and cold 7 days (and nights).

Training mileage has picked up in the last month, though a torn glute set things back recently.

The course plays to the nags strengths, wet and cold are predicted, though the field size is large enough to overshadow any half-hearted efforts.

Race Stats

2012 – 50m

    0.76 (10/42) in DtD (Oct, 50m)

2013 – 112m

    0.43 (656/1159) in CCC (Aug, 62m)

    0.72 (17/60) in DtD (Oct, 50m)

2014 – 362m

    0.72 (5/18) in Spine Challenger (Jan, 108m)

    0.76 (12/51) in GUCR (May, 145m)

    0.53 (16/34) in Tooting 24h (Sep, 109m)

2015 – 79m

    0.79 (3/14) in Crawley 12h (Apr, 79m)

2016 – 268m

    0.71 (12/42) in Spine (Jan, 268m)

Verdict? Poker face firmly in place, but the inside view is that if the legs don’t fall off then a rank of 0.7 is attainable, 107/357.


Past performance is no indication of future performance, various endogenic factors can severely affect an animals ability to race (donuts, Netflix and red wine, for example). None of this is serious and everything should be completely ignored.