As 2021 enters its final lap, I begin turning my attention to the new year and my race calendar for 2022.
I’ve gone for a casual approach this time around. It’s not bursting at the seams and that’s fine with me. I just want two main events to focus on, with enough time between them for recovery and preparation.
The main lesson from this year is that ultras take a massive toll on your body (quelle surprise). I reached a point where I wasn’t enjoying running and I don’t want a repeat of that in 2022, hence only a handful of planned races at the moment.
There is the potential to add a few more events (as glorified long runs), but otherwise I am leaving the calendar wide open. Especially in the autumn and winter, so that I don’t feel the pressure to get back to training and racing too quickly.
My racing calendar for 2022 currently looks like this…
Centurion One Slam 2022
When: 1st Jan – 10th Apr
Distance: 600 miles
OK, so this isn’t a race as such, but I am doing the Centurion One Slam in the hope it will provide some much-needed motivation through the cold, dark winter months.
Taking place over a 100-day period, this virtual event has five distances for runners to aim for, ranging from 100 to 1,000 miles. I like my legs enough to not think about going for the top target, but I hope to hit 600 miles, compliments of training for the SDW50 (more on that later).
What makes this interesting is the introduction of additional bolt-on events. There’s ‘One Night’ for those who run at night on 2nd January, followed by ‘One Love’ in mid-February, if you feel like covering 50km in one weekend, and then ‘One Up’ in March, which encourages you to get some vert in.
My favourite new feature is Strava synchronisation, so no more manual uploads to the leader board. I’m easily pleased.
Humanity Direct Amersham Ultra
When: 5th Mar
The first proper race on my list is the Humanity Direct Amersham Ultra in early March.
It’s a 50km loop starting in (you guessed it) Amersham before taking in neighbouring towns such as Great Missenden, Chesham and Chorleywood. It’s mostly off-road, of course, so cue a hard, muddy slog for several hours, followed by an even longer soak in the bath.
There’s a couple of reasons why I’m doing this race. The first is because I was handed a free place after volunteering at one of their previous events. Although, I would have happily paid as all funds from the race go to Humanity Direct, which is a charity helping children needing medical care in developing countries.
The second reason for doing the Amersham Ultra is timing, which couldn’t be any better – it’s six weeks before I shuffle my way along the South Downs Way. I just need to remember to take it easy and treat it as a training run. I think I can do that…
When: 9th Apr
Distance: 50 miles
Here we go then: the first of my two peak races for 2022. At this stage, I have absolutely no idea what to expect during the build-up to and during the SDW50 in April.
Training for my last 50-miler finished with a whimper as I was injured two weeks before race day, but I like to think I’ve learned a few lessons from the experience. I’m also adopting a different approach to training this time around. More on that in a future post (I bet you can’t wait).
Hopefully I can get through 16 weeks relatively unscathed and not having to throw money at physios. The only other thing I am a little anxious about is the route itself. I normally like to do a course recce as it helps my confidence and allows me to focus more on the race. I could take a trip down to Worthing to check it out, but the logistics and costs put me off, so maybe I’ll leave it as a surprise.
Everyone I know, however, who has run along the South Downs Way says the same thing: expect great views and scenery on an undulating course, with lots of runnable inclines. They also mention choppier, rockier bits, but I am choosing to ignore that.
Goal for the race? If I can do sub-nine hours then I’ll be over the moon. If not, then I’ll be happy just to complete it.
Maverick X-Series Chilterns
When: 9th Jul
Three months after finishing SDW50 and questioning my life choices, I aim to be racing in the Chilterns as part of Maverick’s X-Series event. There are four distances to choose from, so I’ve gone for 42km with a view of dropping down to 21km mid-race if things go pear shaped.
I chose this race as I had previously entered a Maverick event, but due to a family bereavement I had to transfer to an alternative. I have also run a fair chunk of the course already, so it will be nice to piece it all together and see what I can achieve with a little bit of competition.
The race also falls about four weeks into what should be a 16-week training block for another 50-miler, and the second of my two peak races.
Centurion Chiltern Wonderland 50
When: 17th Sep
Distance: 50 miles
Here it is then. My main race of 2022 and the one I am most keen to do and put to bed, after missing out on it this year. To say I was gutted dropping out of the Chiltern Wonderland 50 (CW50) would be an understatement – I was thoroughly peed off.
It’s a cracking 50-mile loop of the Chilterns, starting in Goring and working it’s way up to Turville – background to many films and TV series like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Vicar of Dibley – before heading south along the Ridgeway and back to race HQ.
It’s the sort of route that on a normal day you would stop and take dozens of pictures, and also complain about the hills being “too hilly.”
My only cause for concern is that September is typically when the wheels start falling off my wagon. It’s something I’ve noticed over the years, whereby I seem to accrue my niggles and injuries in the early autumn. Hopefully I can buck the trend in 2022 with the planned downtime between finishing SDW50 in April and starting training for CW50 in June.
I can’t wait for this one, though. I love summer training runs on the trails, plotting random routes and exploring new areas of the countryside. To then be able to deposit all that time, effort and mileage into a race is such a great feeling.