William Sichel – A RUN IN THE PARK on RUNULTRA

William Sichel

Read my article on the incredible William Sichel. He has been flying the flag for ultra running for 20-years. This year he took on the intimidating 3,1000 mile SRI CHIMNOY.

‘On day 19 I was 71-miles behind the target pace. I was aware of this but during the race I didn’t know this… it wouldn’t have been helpful. I needed to blank this and work on my mind. I adjusted and went into mental lockdown. I lived in the moment. I focused on each step, each minute detail and I said to myself, just run the greatest distance possible each day and repeat. Lap by lap, day by day I started to adapt and I found that at night I could speed up. After 9pm I could run, I could speed up and I could move quickly. This is coincided with the course being quieter too. The race and the other runners had written me off; they all didn’t think it was possible to pull back such a deficit.’

 

You can read the full article HERE

Make sure to check out RUNULTRA HERE

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Sichel starts World’s Longest Footrace – 3100 miles in New York

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (60) will become the first Scot to start the World’s Longest Certified Footrace – the Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race – which starts in New York on Sunday June 15th – with a 52 day cut-off.

William hopes to high-light the benefits of exercise for the over 60s as well as raise money for the CLAN cancer support charity.

The 18th edition of this event will, once again, take place on a half mile street circuit in Queens, New York from June 15th to August 6th. A small, invited field of 11 men and 3 women will start this unique event.

For organisational reasons the race is run a bit like a stage race with the runners and organisers having an enforced break between mid-night and 6am every day. The clock doesn’t stop however and competitors must be on the start line at 6 every morning.

So in effect, the runners have 18 hours a day to cover the daily average of 60 miles required to complete the challenge within the time limit.

“That means I must cover almost 2½ marathons a day or the equivalent of 240 laps of a 400m track, every day for 52 days, just to finish inside the time limit! It’s an incredible ask because if I have a bad day then I have to run further in subsequent days to complete the race. Currently no one from Scotland has ever started the event and no one from anywhere, aged over 60, has ever finished it, so there are lots of targets to aim for.”

Sri Chinmoy was an Indian spiritual master and teacher of meditation, who established himself in New York in the 1960’s and who died in 2007. The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organise many running events world-wide, including the UK.

The heat and humidity of summer in New York will have a big bearing on the event and William has prepared diligently in his own home-made heat chamber, mimicking the the 35°C and 90% humidity often experienced in New York during July and August.

“To be honest it would hardly be worth going if I didn’t do this type of specific preparation. The effects of heat and humidity on running performance can be severe and coming from a cool climate it makes perfect sense and is something I can do, relatively conveniently, at home.”

William made the decision 18 months ago to compete in this race as he wanted to mark his 20th year in ultra distance running by tackling something rather special and this event seemed to fit the bill.

http://www.williamsichel.co.uk
http://www.williamsichel.co.uk/blog

William Sichel to attempt World’s Longest Certified Footrace – 3100 miles

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel, has announced that he will be attempting to become the first Scot, first Brit and first person over 60-years of age to complete the World’s Longest Certified Footracethe Sri Chinmoy Self Transcendence 3100 Mile Race – within the current 52 day time limit.

Described by the New York Times as the “Mount Everest of ultra marathons”, the 18th edition of this event will, once again, take place on a half mile street circuit in Queens, New York from June 15th to August 6th this year. A small field of about a dozen runners is expected.

“I wanted to make this year in particular rather special, it being my 60th year and also my 20th in ultra distance running.  I’ve always specialised in standard road and track ultras so, to me, this is the ultimate in this type of race.  Clearly it is way beyond anything I have previously attempted and I’ll need to use all my experience to try and finish the race!”

Sri Chinmoy was an Indian spiritual master and teacher of meditation, who established himself in New York in the 1960’s and who died in 2007.  The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team organise many running events world-wide, including in Scotland, England and Wales.

“My first ever standard ultra was the Sri Chinmoy 100km race in Edinburgh in 1994, which to my amazement I won. Since then I have done loads of Sri Chinmoy ultra distance events world-wide and up to 6 Days in duration. Their events are always well organised and have the best interests of the runners at heart.”

William has known about this incredible event for a long time but never thought he would be able to participate or realistically consider himself a possible finisher.

“Trying to clear a two months gap in your life isn’t easy and in fact that becomes part of the challenge. It will be the most incredible trial for me – the ultimate really in long distance running.”

For organisational reasons the race is run a bit like a stage race with the runners and organisers having an enforced break between mid-night and 6am every day.  The clock doesn’t stop of course.

So in effect the competitors have 18 hours a day to cover the daily average of 60 miles required to complete the challenge within the time limit.

“I’ve run 153 miles in a single day as a one off. In six day races I cover 80-90 miles as a daily average and in my only 1000 miles race I averaged 72 miles a day. To attempt a daily average of 60 miles, week in and week out, will need the most astonishing effort and conservation of resources.”

Welshman Abichal Watkins, was the first British person to compete in the event, finishing five times in five years, with a best performance of 54 days 11 hours in 2008.  He is now a race organiser and this year is promoting the Celtic Ultra Fest in Weston-super-Mare in September.

William is working on Project165.com in which he will attempt to have set 165 ultra running records before his 65th birthday on October 1st 2018.  Amongst William’s current 95 records he holds nine world age-group records including the fastest time to run 1000 miles.

William is dedicating Project165.com to raise funds for CLAN Cancer Support and his dedicated web page can be found here: http://www.justgiving.com/William-Sichel

William Sichel settles for age-group win in Taiwan

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel had to settle for an age-group win and 14th overall, with his distance of 156.069 miles  in the Taipei 48 Hour Road race which ran from February 14th-16th in the Taiwanese capital.

“I started strongly but after about 4 or 5 hours I could feel that I hadn’t fully recovered from my epic run in Arizona in January.  I just kept going, but had to accept a lesser distance than I would normally achieve in this type of event.”

William has had an incredibly successful, but hectic, last few months of competitive action going back to August when he was runner-up and set a world age-group record at the British UltraFest 6 Day race in Abingdon, England.  Then came runner-up spot again in the Monaco 8 Day race in November followed by  4th overall and 17 records (including another world-age group one) in the Arizona 6 Day over the New Year.

The Taipei event was incredibly popular with over 1700 runners taking part in the 12 hour and 24 hour relay events which took place concurrently with the 48 hour event.  A noisy festival of ultra marathon   competition.

“It’s time now for some rest and recovery and then a few months of hard training before my next competitive outing which will be announced shortly.”

William is working on Project165.com in which he will attempt to have set 165 ultra running records before his 65th birthday on October 1st 2018.  Amongst William’s current 95 records he holds nine world age-group records including the fastest time to run 1000 miles.

Ultra Running Review of the Year 2013

Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com

What an amazing time to be involved in the sport of ultra running! The once niche minority sport has exploded to greater heights and distances in 2013. No longer is a long beard and ‘Buff’ a pre requisite of ultra running (unless you’re Rob Krar). Clean cut, young, fast is the new ‘ultra runner’ mixing it up with the old guard.
Just think back to this time last year, had you heard of Zach Miller (not the Zach Miller, but, the Zach Miller; confused?), Michele YatesRob Krar, Magdalena Boulet and Xavier Thevenard.
Racing and the opportunity to race has also increased to the extent that it is now possible to race pretty much week in and week out for 12-months of the year. Of course, this brings pluses and minuses, certainly from an elite level, runners need to be far more savvy and race clever. You can no longer race month on month and expect to win. Races now have much higher quality fields and the pace is going up. The growth of Skyrunning has been instrumental in enticing a world audience to test runners of all abilities on tough, technical and high-terrain and the feedback has been incredible. UTWT have launched a series of races above the 100-km distance and in doing so have created a ‘trail’ circuit that offers multiple terrain in multiple locations all over the world. It will be interesting to see how the inaugural year goes when 2014 comes around.
So, what are the highlights of 2013?
Ultra Runner of the Year – Men and ladies
Rob Krar UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Lets start with Rob Krar. I interviewed Rob just after his incredible ‘FKT’ in the Grand Canyon early in 2013 when he put the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim record at another level. At the time we discussed Western States, he was intimidated by the ‘Super Bowl’ of ultra and his first 100-miler. “I’ll give it a shot and see what happens”. Well, if you hadn’t noticed Rob pre WSER you did afterwards. Your not supposed to run WSER and get 2nd overall in your first attempt. UROC, Ultra Race of Champions was the final of the Skyrunner Ultra World Series and for some reason they had bestowed upon themselves the title, ‘The Ultra Running World Championship’. Mmmmm well, it certainly had a quality field but ‘World Championship’? I don’t think so. In the end it came down to a head-to-head between Dakota Jones and Rob Krar. Dakota looked as though he had it sewn up but on the final descent, Rob unleashed a pace that Dakota went on to say was ‘just crazy’. Rob took the win and a pattern was forming. We were all a little surprised to see Rob’s name on the start list for JFK50, primarily with TNF50 in San Francisco just two weeks later. As it happened, Rob dropped at around the 41-mile mark and went on to say that it was either ‘a great training run for TNF50 or the worst decision he had made in a while.’ It was a great training run! Rob ran a super calm, collected and mature race in San Francisco and when he took the front in the last fifth of the race he released a pace that was just incredible. Without doubt my ultra runner of the year!
Kilian Jornet and the Matterhorn ©iancorless.com
  • Of course, you can’t talk about male ultra runner and not mention Kilian Jornet. Kilian is a phenomenon. He is the star of our sport. Once again he was crowned Skyrunner World Ultra Series Champion with wins at Transvulcania and Ice Trail Tarentaise. In addition to this, Kilian was also champion of the ‘Sky’ series with 4 wins; ZegamaMont-BlancMatterhorn Ultraks and Limone Extreme. Add this a couple VK’s, a win at Canazei Sky race for the European Championships and a win at Trans D’Havet for the ‘Ultra’ Skyrunning European Championships and you would say the deal is done! But wait-a-minute, we haven’t mentioned his records for his ‘Summits’ project. A stunning new FKT for Chamonix-Mont-Blanc-Chamonix but arguably THE highlight of the year was his Matterhorn Summit. It was a sublime and surreal performance that put going to the mountains light on another level. It was without doubt my ‘moment’ of the year. You can read my ‘Matterhorn Summits Interview’ with Kilian here. Kilian is the most complete athlete I know.
Michele Yates - iancorless.com ©bradclayton

Michele Yates – iancorless.com ©bradclayton

  • Michele Yates hadn’t run an ultra before 2013. Who would have thought that Ms Figure Colorado 2008 would be such an awesome talent? Well her history shows that she is a 2x Olympic Trials Marathon Competitor, she has 9 marathon wins and PB of 2:38:37. To say Michele burst on the ultra scene would be an underestimation. Her win at Indiana Trail 100 (17:35:18) almost went unnoticed but then taking top spot and the $10,000 prize at Run Rabbit Run suddenly made every one stop, look around and take notice. Placing 3rd at UROC was another sign that Michele was no one trick pony but just like Rob Krar, Michele sealed a quality 2013 with a win at TNF50. She started that race from the front and never relinquished the lead until the line. Is Michele female ultra runner of the year? Well, I would have said yes. That is until the weekend of Dec 13th/ 14th(Listen to interview with Michele on the Christmas show of Talk Ultra, Ep51 out Dec 27th)
  • Pam Smith victorious at Western States turned up at the Desert Solstice track meet run by Aravaipa Running and not only took out the win for 12-hours on the track but set a new female record for 100-miles, 14:11:26. Take your pick, Michele or Pam; it’s a tough call.
Emelie Forsberg ©iancorless.com
  • But wait a minute, what about Emelie Forsberg. Emelie arrived on the run scene in 2012 and instantly had success, continually placing top-3 with Anna Frost and Nuria Picas. However the break through moment came ironically this time last year, she won TNF50 in San Francisco. This seemed to change everything, Emelie arrived at Transvulcania in May 2013 and won, she followed this up with a win in ZegamaCanazeiIce Trail TarentaiseMatterhorn UltraksUROC and then went on to run her first 100-miler at the super tough Diagonale de Fous (Raid de la Reunion) and place 2nd. Do you want to vote against Emelie?
Performances of the Year
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Rory Bosio blasted around the TNFUTMB course and in the process not only obliterated the female record but placed 7th overall. Her performance was nothing short of miraculous.
  • Jon Olson set a new American record for 100-miles on the track and then just as the year came to a close, Zach Bitter broke the record with an 11:47:21 but maybe even more important, Zach set a new World Record for 12-hours (101.66 miles) beating a Yiannis Kouros record. That does not happen very often! (Zach Bitter will be in the Christmas episode of Talk Ultra, Ep 51 out Dec 27th here)
  • I have already mention Kilian and the Matterhorn but it was so good I am mentioning it twice!
  • Timothy Olson went back to Western States and won again. You can win a race once but going back and doing it again is always a true sign of a champion.
  • Seb Chaigneau took a win and CR at Hardrock 100.
  • Nickademus Hollon became the youngest person ever to not only complete Barkley but also win it. You can listen to his interview on Talk Ultra here.
Julien Chorier Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com
  • Julien Chorier produced a sublime and calculated performance at the super tough Ronda dels Cims. It was a joy and a pleasure to watch someone control and dominate a race from the front and look good all the way.
  • Sage Canaday, jeez I missed him out and he definitely deserves a mention for BanderaTarawera, Transvulcania (3rd), Lake Sonoma and Speedgoat 50k.
 
Francesca Canepa ©iancorless.com
  • Francesca Canepa once again had an incredible year with a great performance at Ronda dels Cims but arguably a repeat win at Tor des Geants places her well and truly at the top on ‘endurance’ lady of the year!
  • Iker Karrera nailed Tor des Geants.
  • Ricky Lightfoot went over to South Africa and raced at The Otter and not only won but put the course record at a new level, in addition he won the IAU World Title in Wales.
 
tnfutmb 2013 ©iancorless.com
  • Xavier Thevenard took everyone, including himself, by surprise at TNFUTMB with a controlled and impressive performance against some top competition.
Jez Bragg TNFUTMB ©iancorless.com
  • Jez Bragg completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand. An incredible journey from the northern tip of New Zealand all the way down to the southern tip. Listen here.
  • David Johnston completed the Iditarod trail Invitational in 4 days 19 hours 13 mins.Crazy fast.
  • Ian Sharman and Nick Clark went head-to-head in the Grand Slam of Ultra Running and produced possibly the most exciting competition of 2013. The pair of them produced incredibly consistent performances and showed us all that it is possible to race four 100-milers back-to-back. They didn’t only ‘complete’ but they competed. They both won a race and were never out of the front rankings. Ian Sharman ultimately had the icing on the cake with the overall fastest time and a new Grand Slam record. Respect! Interview with Ian Sharman here.
  • Paul Giblin at the West Highland Way race. 15:07 and good beating of Terry Conway’s previous CR.
Stevie Kremer Limone Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Stevie Kremer doesn’t do ultras but she is a darn fine trail and mountain runner and what ‘Pocket Rocket’ achieved in 2013 is nothing short of miraculous. Can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.
  • Ed Catmur has continued to knock out some great 100-mile performances on the GB scene with wins at North Downs Way and the Winter 100.
  • Lizzie Wraith new female CR for the Lakeland 100 in the UK.
  • William Sichel keeps running and running crazy distances and setting new records.
  • Jonas Buud didn’t win Comrades in 2013 but he ran one of the best paced races I’ve ever witnessed. He was way back in the late 30’s and slowly moved up to 3rd. Wow! Notable mention to Brit ladies, Joanna Zakrezewski and Holly Rush who placed top-10.
Surprises of the Year
  • Rob Krar – Just one word sums up the bearded warrior ‘Krarnage’.
  • Zach Miller – no, not Zach Miller, but Zach Miller. Zach rocked up at JFK50, nobody knew him and he didn’t know anyone else. He took over the lead when Rob Krar dropped at mile 41. Not only did he win but also he set the 3rd fastest time ever. Interview with Zach here.
  • Xavier Thevenard – TNFUTMB was going to be won by Anton KrupickaMiguel HerasJulien ChorierSeb Chaigneau or Mike Foote. Somebody should have told them all about CCC winner, Xavier.
  • Michele Yates – wow, what a first year in the ultra world.
Who and what to watch out for in 2014
Cameron Clayton UROC ©iancorless.com
  • Cameron Clayton has found his feet, 2013 had some mixed performances but when everything aligns he races with the best. His TransvulcaniaUROC and TNF50 performances without doubt elevates him to ‘hot’ for 2014.
Luis Alberto Hernando Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com
  • Luis Alberto Hernando pushed Kilian close at Transvulcania, Zegama, finished joint first at Trans D’havet and won at Cavalls del Vent. In 2014 he plans to race TNFUTMB, now that will be interesting.
  • Magdalena Boulet had an ultra debut at TNF50 and placed 2nd. This sub 2:30 marathon runner may turn a few heads in 2014.
  • Brit, Stuart Air may raise a few eyebrows in 2014. He had a solid Ronda dels Cims, Ice Trail Tarentaise and Tor des Geants and for 2014 he has a Hardrock 100 slot!
  • Hardrock 100 had it’s draw and suddenly much of the WSER ‘lottery’ chat shifted focus to the field up at Silverton. The 2014 race is a classic in the making with Kilian JornetSebastian ChaigneauJulien ChorierJoe Grant and more. Excited? Just a little.
  • The Skyrunning World Championships take place in Chamonix with runners from all over the world coming to race VK, SKY and ULTRA in one of the endurance capitals of the world.
  • Beards – the jury is out. Are beards fast or slow? Rob Krar, Timmy Olson and ‘Clarky’ are certainly great advocates for hairy running but Kilian, Cameron, Sage provide a strong counter argument. What are your thoughts?
And finally…
 
A review of any year is going to be personal. Without doubt we will all have our own highlights and favourite moments, so, I would love to read your thoughts.
Please use the form below.
Ian Corless ETR ©iancorless.com
On a personal note, 2013 was an incredible year, I feel blessed with all the opportunities I have had. To witness many of the moments I write about is a great pleasure. Of course, it’s nothing without you folks reading, looking at my photographs or listening to my podcast.
A very BIG thank you from me.
Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2014 awaits us all…
LINKS:
Photography from 2013 races HERE
IMAGES book HERE
Calendar HERE
Podcasts HERE

William Sichel 2nd at Monaco 6-Day

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Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel came second overall (first over 60) with 533.57 miles over the 8 Days run around the harbour in Monaco.

William will claim eight Scottish and one British age-group records achieved during the race.

Over 9100 runners took part in the whole event which raised almost 300,000 Euros for children’s charities.

The race was halted on the Monday night when Cyclone Cleopatra hit the port area of Monaco wrecking part of the course. When a tower collapsed, crushing a row of toilet cubicles and a car, the authorities moved in to halt the race as it was unsafe to continue.

“It was a bizarre situation as when the race was stopped we had no idea when it would resume.  We went back to our hotel and awaited news of a re-start which came the next morning.”

William lost 12 hours of the event which completely altered the race and ruled out chances for any World Age-Group Records.

“I had to re-assess my goals for the event so that I knew what I was doing.”

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The race was subsequently hit by torrential rain which rendered part of the course almost impassable, due to flooding, for some hours.  There were also major issues with the computer system at the race which meant that very few distance updates were available to runners during the race.

“All in all a very difficult and unusual race!  Finishing 2nd to Didier Sessegolo, for the the third time, is no disgrace, as he is a worthy World No 1 for this year.  I should hang on to my overall World No 3 ranking which isn’t bad for an over 60 year old!”

William now has a short break before heading across the ‘pond’, just after Christmas, for a very competitive Phoenix 6 Day race in Arizona.

William is just starting Project165.com in which he will attempt to have set 165 ultra running records before his 65th birthday on October 1st 2018. These records will be at World, British and Scottish level, including age groups, in certified races on road, track or indoor courses.  Amongst William’s current records he holds seven world age-group records including the fastest time to run 1000 miles.

Who is William Sichel?

I was told I “might be an ultra runner” in 1994, following some success at ‘ordinary’ marathon running but reporting that I “wasn’t exhausted at the finish”.  I enjoyed instant success, winning the Scottish 100km (62 miles) Championships in July of that year.

I went on to get my first Scottish vest in 1995 and my Great Britain call-up in 1996 and represented GB in all European and World 100km Championships through the 90’s. I also won the British Championships and the World Age-Group Championships at the 100km distance.

During the early part of the 2000’s I focused on 24 hour races, being ranked in the World Top 10 for two years.  I had outright 24 hour wins in Switzerland, the USA and the UK.  I also tackled some classic ultra distance events including the Spartathlon (twice) – 153 miles from Athens to Sparta, setting a Scottish event record and the World’s hottest race, the Badwater Ultra marathon, through Death Valley in California, setting a British event record.

In 2006 I had a winning debut in my first 6 Day race, in Monaco and became the overall World No1 in that event, for that year. Since then, multi-day races, up to 1000 miles in length, have become my specialty.

In the November 2011 Monaco “No Finish Line” 8 Day race (which had over 6,000 participants) I won the event outright, set a new course record and became the first person to cover more than 1000km during the 8-day race.  

For some years I have been engaged in Project 60@60 in which I was attempting to have set 60 ultra distance records, at World, British and Scottish level, including age-groups, before my 60th birthday on October 1st 2013. The two 1000km records, achieved in Monaco in November 2012, marked my 59th and 60th records thus achieving  my target 10 months ahead of schedule. Full details are provided HERE.

Project165.com was announced in September 2013.

I run a very active blog, which has had almost 1 million hits over the last 2 years and receives visitors from 91 countries.  I also actively promote my performances and my sport via social media.

The Scotsman newspaper described me as a ”role model for the middle aged”.