SELF TRANSCENDENCE FROM FINILL AND SKELTON AS THEY TOP THE UK RANKINGS FOR 2008, AND FROM EOIN KEITH AS HE SETS THREE NEW IRISH NATIONAL RECORDS
Self-Transcendence 24 Hour Race 2008 Photo Gallery
Race Report by Tarit Adrian Stott
Great Britain Ultra distance internationals Chris Finill and Vicky Skelton both ran superb races to smash their respective personal bests and go to the top of the G.B. 24 hour rankings for 2008.
Not to be outdone, experienced Irish Adventure racer and ultra runner Eion Keith broke three Irish national records when finishing second at the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 24 hour track race held sat/sun 18th and 19th of October.
Forty runners set off in near perfect conditions at 12 noon on the Saturday to circle the 400metre track at the superb south London venue of Tooting Bec athletics track. Unlike a standard marathon or a 100km race where a fixed distance is covered in a certain time, in a 24 hour race the time is fixed and the distance covered, as laps are meticulously recorded, determines the end result. Mens pre race favourites were Chris Finill(Harrow) and Jim Rogers(East Hull) and it was these two who showed at the front after the race settled down. Rogers looked the more purposeful and relaxed in the first few hours and it was the Yorkshireman who reached the 50 mile mark first in 7hours 9mins 51secs from Finill(7.20.41).
Sharon Gaytor who had topped the woman's uk 24 hour rankings for the last 11 years led from North Devon's Vicky Skelton at this point by 10 minutes: 7.44.21 to 7.54.18. By 100km Rogers still led Finill by almost 8 minutes and Gaytor had increased her lead over Skelton to 13 minutes. Experienced observers know that this is still"Early Days" in a 24 hour race. Approaching the half way mark Rogers left the track to seek help from the physio's for a hip problem. Gaytor also appeared to be moving less comfortably and Skelton maintaining her steady pace took the lead. Gaytor although starting comfortably was possibly feeling the effects of missing a lot of training in the summer due to injury, and shortly after the 12 hour mark sensibly retired from the race. Roger's too although trying his best to keep on the track also retired about this time. This left Finill and Skelton as clear leaders and as the hours passed by they relentlessly kept churning out the laps, taking short walking breaks every so often to drink or have a small snack but never once leaving the track except for changing gear and the occasional"call of natureâ.Both seemed focussed on pressing on ..and on.. and by the time they had reached 100miles Finill in 15.11.49 and Skelton in 16.55.05 their respective goals of surpassing their previous bests now looking distinctly possible.
Pic: Finill and Skelton stay focussed as the night wears on.
By the time Finill reached 200km(124.5miles) in 19.22.37 the prospect of not only surpassing his best of 142 miles but also, if he could hold things together and stay motivated, reaching Steve Mason's current G.B. best for 2008 set at the Perth 24 hour in Scotland 4 weeks previously of 148+ miles looked possible. Skelton also had similar ideas. Although going through a lengthy bad patch early in the morning, she reached 200k in 22.14.40.and was now focussing on reaching 130 miles and Pauline Walkers current women's best 2008 distance, set in the same Perth race. As the clock counted down the last hour arrived and with calculations duly done by support crews as to what was needed to reach respective goals the final surge was on. It is always inspiring watching a 24 hour race unfold to see runners actually lift themselves..even after being on the move for 23 hours!!
Finill duly passed Mason's distance and it only remained for him to find that last little effort to go for the Big one and smash through the 150 mile mark which had not been achieved by a British athlete since 2000 by William Sichel, who co-incidentally was also running in today's race. Skelton also broke through the 130 mile barrier only bettered amongst British women, apart from Walker's recent performance at Perth, by Sharon Gaytor in the last few years.
Throughout the field runners were giving one last effort as the final minutes approached to beat respective goals. Chris Carver consolidated on his victory at Hull earlier in the summer and made the 140 mile mark to seal third position. Previous winner Ken Fancett showed remarkable consistency to just miss out on 220km and the tall long striding Swede, Stefan Lindvall added 10 km to his pb. Fellow Scandinavian and multi day specialist from Finland Ashprihanal Aalto astounded everyone by seemingly hurtling around the last hour. His experience of being five times winner of the remarkable 3,100mile self-transcendence race in New York obviously making 24 hours seem like a sprint! Right throughout the field Self-Transcendence was happening.75 year old Geoff Oliver set new british age group records at 100miles and 24 hours. William Sichel completed 200km exactly one month after covering a similar distance in the Perth event and Fellow Scot Ritchie Cunningham also achieved the guideline qualification for the Scottish team for next years commonwealth ultra distance championship.
And a remarkable Irishman rewrote the Irish record books Travelling from Ireland alone without any dedicated back up crew(Most sensible people ,hoping to do a good distance, bring a crew to help them with there food and drinks, but this wisdom hasn't got through to people like Eoin ..or Ken Fancett for that matter) Keith a very experienced ultra runner and member of the Irish adventure racing team had obviously prepared well for the event , breaking the record for the 132 km long distance trail"The Wicklow way" just a month ago. Tony Mangan's previous Irish 24 hour marks stood at 228km on the road and 223 km on the track. After starting the race seemingly cautiously, he wasn't even in the top 10 at 50 miles. He seemed to really get into his stride as night fell and looked to be, along with Finill by far the strongest runner on the track throughout the night. He reached 100km in around 10 hours; 100miles in 16.06.56.He knew Mangans 24 hour mark was now achievable .The trouble was three other Irish runners were running in the World 24 hour event in Korea this weekend also, who Eoin thought might be also capable of beating it. Figuring out the time difference meant the Korea race would be over. Efforts were made to find out the results of the Seoul event. No wireless connection at the track ,but a phone call to Edinburgh and ultra enthusiast John Sneddon was able to tell the organisers that all the Irish seemed to have"Bombed", the best of them only reaching 138km. This news seemed to put a spring in Keith's step and Mangan's marks on road and track were both comfortably passed and the final new Irish mark was being pushed up with each lap as the finish approached. Indeed 146 miles 1034 yards (235.910km) may well last for a while. It is only as this report is being written that I realise Keith's 100mile time of 16 hours 6 minutes 56secs is way inside Mangans listed Irish record of 16 hours and 58 minutes and as there doesn't seem to be a listed Irish record for 200km we will claim Eoin's 20.14 20 for that as well.
All in all a successful event with 21 runners surpassing the 100mile mark and an emotional prizegiving, as results are read out, and the enormity of what people have achieved throughout the field starts to slowly sink in. Chris Finill Slightly, the worse for his endeavours, joins others in praising the organisation and along with his winners trophy, he is a fitting recipient of the trophy donated by THE ROAD RUNNERS CLUB in memory of our good friend Ongkar Tony Smith and presented by Ian Champion to the first RRC member in today's race. Ongkar, who was the inspiration behind today's event for many years, will be delighted and proud of the continued tradition that his daughter SHANKARA and the Sri Chinmoy Athletic club crew have continued since his passing.
Sri Chinmoy Athletic Club Home
Below you will find the code of conduct for the race. If you have any questions please contact the race director, Shankara Smith, at Run and Become (0207 222 1314).
'Code of Conduct' 24 hour track race
This 'code' is to make the event fair to all competitors at all levels of ability during the 24 hours of the event.. Before the event starts all competitors need to identify and make themselves known to their lap recorder. These will be situated in a tent on the home straight opposite the Start/Finish line. This is very important, as you will need to be known to each other throughout the event. You will need to arrange how you will let each other know that a lap has been completed, usually by the runner calling the recorders name as they pass. Also you will need to arrange how you will either 'signal to' or tell your recorder when you have previously left the track for any reason before reaching them or that you are going to before completing the lap you are about to start e.g. a toilet break.
Distance over time is a different discipline to time over distance. As implied the objective is to cover the greatest distance in a specific time period. The overall distance is calculated from the number of recorded laps or part laps by each contestant during the time period. The greatest recorded distance for any runner during the time period is the one that wins the event. Overall distance is the criteria and the winner does not have to be on the track at end of the time period. In a track race the lap used for calculation purposes is the inside lane lap, which is 400 metres from start to finish line. Any distance run outside of the inside lane cannot be included in the calculated overall distance. This effectively makes it imperative for all competitors to use the inside lane. If the right 'code of conduct' is followed by all competitors for all 24 hours this can be achieved.
As soon after the start as possible all competitors should get into single file running at or on the white line marking the outside edge of the inside lane. This single file position at or on the white line should be maintained throughout the race. This will leave the opportunity for overtaking on the nearside, the shortest route for anyone travelling faster or accelerating to overtake the person in front of them. If at any time a competitor finds two other competitors side by side in the inside lane in front them they should shout the word 'Track' in sufficient time for the inside one of the two to accelerate in front of the other so resuming the 'single file' position.
There are a potential 45 persons who will be on the track at anytime all travelling at different speeds all wanting to achieve their maximum distance. If all competitors make it their intention to comply with this 'code of conduct' throughout the whole 24 hour time period there should not be any problems or reason to cover extra-unrecorded distance. Because racing positions will change constantly MP3 players will not be allowed to be worn at any time in the INSIDE LANE. All competitors should be able to hear anyone calling 'track' at any time and/or any other instructions they may need to be given by race officials. They should also be able to hear the presence of other competitors behind them. This 'ban on MP3 players in the INSIDE LANE' as a possible cause of problems during the event will be listed in the race 'risk assessment', and enforced by the Race Referee. (They can be worn in any other lane if the competitor is prepared to stay in that lane). All unaccompanied competitors by necessity will have to take their drinks and/or food from a table in a stationery position. To maintain consistency anyone accompanying a runner must also give any drink or food to their runner from a stationery position. Any other assistance given by a helper to any competitor, on foot and moving, must be from alongside or from behind the competitor. Any action by a helper that could be construed as 'pacing or unfair assistance to their runner' could ultimately lead to the disqualification of the competitor e.g. on the move, in front of them.
The toilets are situated on the home straight side of the main changing rooms building. Any competitor taking a 'toilet' break' must leave and return to the track using the same route from the track and back again. Any time a competitor leaves the track must be recorded. When verifying overall distance, laps by an individual competitor usually maintain a steady average. When suddenly there is a very extended difference in lap times it is usually one of two reasons. They are either, one completed lap has not been recorded or the competitor left the track during a particular lap. For this reason this communication between competitor and lap recorder must be maintained the whole time so there can be no subsequent doubt as to why the vast difference occurred. Any competitor that is off the track for more than 2 hours without giving an explanation of absence, or off the track in excess of 5 hours (with explanation) to Race Director or Lap Recorder will be retired by the Race Referee.
This 'Code of conduct' when conformed to by all entrants has been proved successful in other events and gives all entrants the opportunity to achieve their maximum distance for the time period.