A Personal View

Along the South Downs Ridge Leaving Alton

John Cowburn from East Lancs has sent us his picture record of the Wessex 100. Please follow this link to view them:


WESSEX 100 MAY 2009

A Report on the Event by John Cowburn

The weather was set fine for the weekend, the route had plenty of long open tracks, the climbing over the route wasn’t too difficult (11,000ft), so everything was in place for a fast time. My ‘normal’ time to complete the 100 is usually 33 hours, give or take half an hour and I’ve never managed less than 32.

We planned to go as fast as possible through the first day to get as far as possible before dark and kept checkpoint stops to a minimum – less than 3 minutes. The tactic paid dividends with the first 40 miles completed in 10 hours and 45 miles before darkness fell. By this time we were over 1 ˝ hours up on our 33 hour target time.

Relatively easy navigation and excellent tracks through the night meant we could keep up the fast pace through the hours of darkness and we arrived at the 60 mile point for breakfast at just after 2am, 16 hours after leaving Alton and we were now over 4 hours up on our schedule. All we now had to do was the remaining 40 miles at our ‘normal’ speed and we would definitely be within a 30 hour completion time but we were also mindful of how badly things can go wrong. I had a few blisters by now, nothing too serious but past experience is that anything can happen around 80 miles.

We kept the breakfast stop to 30 minutes to ensure minimal time was lost and as we headed into the dawn of a new day we maintained our speed making further gains on our schedule as the miles went by.

By the time we reached the 92.5 mile check point at Upper Wield there was a possibility that we could come under 29 hours – we had 7.5 miles to go and an hour and three quarters to do it in. This looked a distinct possibility based on past performance but there was a sting in the tail on this route – a couple of steep climbs and the most rutted tracks on the route destroyed by the 4x4 fraternity. We passed through Shaldon checkpoint at 97.1 miles stopping only to refill the water bottle and 45min to complete the remaining three miles. This proved too a task too far, the rutted route and another climb slowed us down to 3 mph and we came into the finish at 3:06pm, completing the event in 29:06 knocking about 3 ˝ hours off my best time.

Thanks to the team efforts of David Purdy (L) and Tony Roberts (R) keeping the pressure on for the full time and maintaining a good pace throughout.

My photos are available at http://picasaweb.google.com/JohnCowburn/Wessex100. The link is at the top of this page.

Old Arlesford
The End is in Sight Three Magnificent Finishers