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:
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.
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.
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.