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Why Oh Why - SDW 100 Miles in the Sunshine

Last weekend Camino Ultra had six athletes taking part in Centurions South Downs Way 100 mile event. The weather watchers had predicted a warm one - it turned out to be a peak hottie.

We had a real mix of experiences and results and so we've asked our athletes to give us an insight into what it was that even got them through the tougher moments (the WHYS? were challenged!) and where it went wrong for others.

Ash looking very jolly at the (it's not super hot yet) start in Winchester.

Whatever the result there was true spirit inside the team. We had our usual squad WhatsApp group that offered up support both pre, post and at times during the event - everyone was supportive and willing each other to the finish in Eastbourne.

As with all Camino race/athlete blogs we encourage you to ask questions - we will answer these or get our athletes helping with any specifics.

Thank you to our athletes x

Camino Co-Founder Darren is a seasoned professional of 100 milers but all the wheels came off this one. Daz shares:

"When you’ve got runners like Eddie Sutton suffering the same kind of vibe, definitely shows what a trial it was.

There’s definitely stuff to unpack… trying to manage the heat of the day but then also what happens to the body after the sun drops. For a lot of folk that was a shock I think, I’m not entirely sure of the physics there, but it’s like your body goes “ah, now we’re not dealing with heat, let’s take a look at what else has been happening. Oh, hello stomach.” ….

Win or lose there’s always something to learn on these, try not to beat yourself up, and take that fire and the learnings for next time 💪💪👍"

Phil had trained exceptionally well but began to have stomach issues early on and a fall in the first half caused a midway DNF.

"My two pennies worth on it;

1. No two ultras are the same. Even if you’ve finished the same race before or finished races in tougher conditions, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re better prepared for the day. These races are tough and always need to be respected

2. In super tough races you need a rock solid “why”. Something that will drag you to the finish. I thought I had it with the WSER lottery entry, but there was definitely a moment before I dropped where I said “I’ve done this race before I don’t need to put myself through this”.

3. As I was moving far slower than I’d expected to be, I naively thought that heat wouldn’t be as bad as if I was running my original pace and therefore if I was struggling to eat/drink it wouldn’t be as big an issue. This was a big mistake as spending longer walking through the toughest sections slowly destroyed me."

Teresa had another majestic ultramarathon finishing 4th place.

Much of the second half required a deep level of grit and Teresa will be the first to say that her crew were 'on-point' and as equally determined to make sure she raced hard and finished well.

Teresa shares:

"For me the why was to prove I was better than NDW and I knocked off 5 hours, but I also know I wouldn’t have done that without those pacers pushing me (they were relentless!).

Miles 50-65 I felt myself almost going backwards and others coming pass me. By this time I was struggling to stomach tailwind so had to switch to water. I thought I was doing well with salt tabs every hour and another flask of electrolytes, but don’t think I took on enough fluids as my loo stops became less frequent the further I ran.

Also, by half way I could not eat or swallow down the sandwiches. I also kept getting spasms in the calves which would indicate salts but everything I did worked on UTS but went wrong for SDW?

So I need to go back to the nutrition/hydration drawing board. I took on gels too, but when lost taste buds, it felt like everything made me feel queezy.

A good point with my crew was any food they handed me, they opened or shoved straight in my mouth, so I had no choice but to eat then and there, as there was the chance it would end up in my waist belt for later (or more likely not eaten!)

Every time I spoke about quitting, my crew had the same response let’s get to the next meeting point and then you can decide,. By the time I got to that point they managed to somehow get me through the point without remembering to quit! I echo the others with regards to recce the route.

I didn’t find the hills at all unbearable (possibly last 2 were an exception). Learn to run well down hill (that is still an area for improvement for me).

My last lesson would be to really find time to rest before a race.. with school and my small children, I have no chance but to rock up for most races the night before during the late hours. This means I arrive tired from a long week and then my pre race sleep is rubbish so I start the race tired."

James being stalked by Steve x

James found the tough conditions showed no mercy. James is a two times 100 Mile finisher with a sub 20 hr.

"I really struggled to manage the heat. I tried as much as I could to stay cool, hydrated and fuelled but the little shade and hardly any breeze wore me down pretty quick. I also didn’t realise the aid stations had Ice until about 70k in. Stuffed a few cubes down my arm sleeves which helped temporarily but was probably too little too late.

Fitness and strength was definitely there. I ran my own race and was marginally up on timings (feeling comfortable enough) until Cocking where It started to unravel.

Massively agree ⁨Ash Gilbert⁩ . I’m in Suffolk so quite difficult to get vert in. Went down to the South Downs with @⁨Phil Briley⁩ and another mate which was really helpful. But I probably could have made more of an effort to get down there and get some location specific runs in.

Nutrition worked really well - 2 x bottles of mountain fuel, 1 x bottle of precision hydration 1500 and HUMA gels. Could stomach them fine even when I felt rough, but really really struggled to take on anything else at crew points / aid stations.

I’m definitely signing up for next year so I can put new tactics in to place!"

Camino were so impressed with Peter Thomason who had been returning from an injury period and had a recent niggle concern in the weeks leading up to SDW 100. In many ways Peter was forced into a 'conservative start' and for the first third of the event Peter was almost at the back of the race. To see him move into the Top 30 by the finish goes to show the ability and positivity of Peter when aligned with a very measured race start.

Peter shared:

"Here are my thoughts on how I managed the race and in particular the heat element:

- from 9-6pm reapplied sun cream every hour (I’ve grown up pasty 😆)

- ice in the cap at every aid station during the hot hours and even a few after to keep cooling down.

- ran purely to heart rate and feel. until evening, if in doubt always took it easy

- heat meant I couldn’t eat solid foods on the move much earlier than expected so swapped to tailwind and gels but made sure I stopped and forced down solids at aid stations even if it meant staying still longer than I wanted

- covered up with cap, buff etc to keep as much direct sun off as possible

- had capacity for 2.5L of water, didn’t expect to use it but for longer sections I did plus lots of salt tablets".

Ash with super crew Jen (aka Mrs G)

Another stellar performance came from Ash Gilbert. There were many times when Ash struggled inside this race - specifically from half way to mile 80 and the beasting of the sun:

"Firstly, amazing effort from everyone over the weekend, I hope you’re all recovering well and looking back with some magical memories 👏

I’m once again grateful for these running moments that continue to define me, and those snippets of magic amid so many hard fought miles.

I will likely always be critical of my performances - I set my personal standards high - but right now I’m still very much in love with the beautiful complexity of this endurance life.

This one took everything out of me. And as always, I will look for what more I could have done during my build up and on the day:

1. Recce the route; it’s not easy to train on the hills living in Norfolk, and with most of my midweek running on a treadmill, I think a few weekends of concentrated Downs-specific running would have helped;

2. Run my own race. I potentially got carried away at the beginning, paid for the speedy first few hours later on;

Happy to answer any specifics if anyone has any questions ❤️"


A huge part of Camino Community is the value of a happy, motivated and experienced Crew. Over the years Camino have built a blue print we impart to Crews to help their athletes inside the race. This years athletes all had kind/positive words

Teresa: "I echo all the above! Although crew would be at the top of my list without them on the day and the virtual caminos my head would have won and I would have thrown in the towel. 👏👏"

James: '100%! Crew and positive vibes on this chat were a huge help! '

Ash: "My crew. I’m convinced I would not have finished without these beautiful people - the more I run, the more I understand the importance of a close, knowledgable, supportive team."

Phil: "Also couldn’t agree more about the crew. It’s such a selfless task. My crew did everything he could to keep me going and it must have been brutal for him standing out in the sun all day. 🙏🏻"

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