Ultra running is growing and growing. As a race director do you follow a tried and tested formula and offer a race at one of the classic distances such as 50k, 50m, 100k or 100m or do you go off piste, have a random distance and shake things up a little.
Richard Weremiuk has done just this and then some with his new race ‘The 12 Labours of Hercules’.
You are already interested aren’t you… what could this enticing name offer?
In Greek mythology, the twelve Labours of Hercules (Greek: δωδέκαθλον, dodekathlon) were a series of episodes carried out as a penance… oh dear, penance, what did Hercules do?
Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus, apparently drove Hercules mad. So mad, poor old Hercules killed his own six sons! She really must have driven him mad! Somewhat drastic eh. With a lack of a decent judicial system, Hercules pulled himself together and sought purification from King Thespius. To atone his actions he was asked to reside with King Eurystheus for 12 years and to complete 12 Labours. In return he would be rewarded with immortality.
So there you have it. But what on earth could the race entail…. 12 years running with 12 tasks? Of course not!
On July 20th / 21st 2013, participants in ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules’ will have just 24 hours to cover between 1 and 78 miles, tackling as many ‘Labours’ as you can. The race offers 3 UTMB points for solo finishers of the full distance.
It’s a great concept and the format makes the race inclusive for all abilities.
A ’labour’ will be completed by visiting one of twelve chosen control locations in the Peak District and then returning to HQ at the Victorian Gothic Mansion Losehill Hall, Derbyshire.
All Labours will be different. For example, some Labours may require the collection of a small item, which will then need to be returned to Losehill Hall.
Other Labours will only be revealed upon visiting the control point where participation in a task may be required!
Race director, Richard Weremiuk says “If you know us, then you know you should be prepared for anything when you arrive at a location. Be prepared for a few surprises. All 12 locations within the Peak District have been carefully chosen. The name, or location is specifically or critically tied to one of the mythical Labours.”
To add spice, the route for the race is under wraps and being kept secret.
“Giving out the route would give away some of the surprises. All we will say is that the route will be held within the borders of Hope Valley in Derbyshire and cover 96 square miles”
HQ for the 24 hours event is the Victorian gothic mansion, Losehill Hall in Castleton, Derbyshire. This location does offer overnight accommodation too.
Image YHA.org.uk – Andrew Bingham
Participants will be issued with a map of the area at ‘check-in’, which will show the 12 suggested routes to the ‘Labour’ locations.
It’s possible to take part as a solo, pair or team (up to 6) and you will be issued with one electronic timing chip supplied by Sportident to track your individual or team progress.
It’s an interesting format and as an alternative to ‘just’ running an element of tactics will come into play. Participants decide which control to visit and in which order. When at a CP they either dib in, perform a task (Labour) or retrieve an object. Each time your return to ‘Olympus’ (or as is most commonly known, HQ). Zeus will be waiting!
In contrast to solo competitors, pairs or teams can pass on the ‘timing chip’ when they have returned to Olympus and then a teammate can complete the next labour and so on.
Sounds simple eh! Well not quite as simple as you think, you see, certain ‘Labours’ must be completed within certain hours, so, this will need to be factored into your planning.
Ultimately, you decide how many Labours you go for BUT you must finish within 24 hours.
Outside the time limit? Every minute incurs a stiff penalty!
Unlike any other race, the twelve Labours of Hercules offers a new exciting perspective to the ultra running format.
As Richard says:
“It is as tough as you want to make it. Complete just one labour or you can choose to complete all twelve which will ultimately mean approximately 80 miles”
The format of solo, pair or team does mean that if you are new to ultra running or basically if you are just after something different, this race may very well tick all the boxes.
Taking place over 24 hours it does mean that night running will be involved. So be prepared.
The race route is by no means easy. It does have plenty of ascent and one control point is underground.
One area that may worry many is navigation. I asked Richard what skills are required to participate:
“Runners are supplied with an OS map on which will be suggested routes to each CP. CP’s can be reached by road, footpath but others by just footpath. The course is not marked because part of the challenge is choosing how to get to the CP’s in the quickest way possible.”
“Although expert map reading may not be required it certainly would be prudent to be confident with some elements of map reading in particular identifying your location on a map and being able to take a bearing from a compass. Remember, some of this event will be in the dark”
Participants are allowed to GPS but as Richard says, “this should not be because you don’t know how to map read. A GPS is really a back-up device”.
So, all in all, a tough challenge and not one for the feint hearted. But Hercules wouldn’t want it any other way, so why would you?
Grab your sword and shield…. Sorry, I mean your shoes and backpack and test your self against ‘The Twelve Labours of Hercules.’
- A 10% discount is offered on race entry if you contact Richard directly by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
- In addition, the first 10 entries to mention ‘Talk Ultra’ will get a ‘Beyond Marathon’ technical T shirt
Info & Links
- Official race website is HERE
- Facebook page is HERE
- If you are interested in the history of the Twelve Labours, the images below contain a link to inform you of what Hercules endured.