How to create a route for the Centre of the Universe ultra

Updated: Mar 4

CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE PLANNING by Camino Legend Mark Kerry

So after signing up to the Camino Centre of the Universe 50km the first thing I thought was how am I going to run this? So many options, where do I start?

First of all I decided that it would be fun to make an adventure of this unique concept and run as a team rather than race it alone. This wasn’t my A race and being a mountain/trail ultra runner I thought I’m never going to be fast enough to secure a podium place so lets have some fun. With this in mind I had some friends that are new to ultra-running and some that hadn’t gone beyond the marathon distance so this was the perfect opportunity to rope them into running with me. After reaching out to friends 3 of them committed and we had our team of 4 (myself, Kris, Jon and Rhydian).

Now for the planning…Being the most experienced runner of the group I agreed to plan the route and take responsibility for navigation on the day. After a bit of back and forth with ideas we finally decided that we would run the route from South of the river as that’s where the others live (I was out-voted). It was also decided that we would try to incorporate a good amount of elevation (over 500m) so that the route was not completely flat and that we would try to include as much trail as possible so that we A) weren’t running on busy roads and B) were able to take advantage of some of the great paths and scenery that link the Home Counties to London.

That was the easy part and now came the part of plotting out the route. I have a fair amount of experience with route planning and navigation however I can imagine that this would be a daunting task to someone of less experience. My advice would be to use either Garmin Connect, Strava or OS Maps. They all have route planning options that are fairly straight forward and user friendly. The way I started planning was to plot the finish line (details are on the Camino website) - but it is essentially in front of Here East in Hackney Wick - near the restaurants and bars) and work backwards.


Our route of choice was to start from South - so looking at the 50km distance it had to be either Surrey or Kent. I then played around with distances from the finish to see roughly where 50km would take me to. I spoke to Camino and they suggested that most locations that were 40km from Hackney would give you an approx 50km running route.