Friday, 3 August 2012

The Benfield Challenge 2012

Saturday 4th of August will see me attempt to run approximately 53.4 miles in one session between 2 of my sponsor's venues. That sponsor is Benfield Motor Group and the venues are their Renault dealership in Carlisle and the Hyundai dealership on Scotswood Road.

The start time is 3pm from Carlisle and I expect to finish early on Sunday morning. The route will take me through Brampton and I should be just north of Haltwhistle on the Military Road (B6318) by the time the sun goes down. It will then be a long old slog to Heddon on the Wall before dropping down to the River Tyne at Newburn. The final 3 or so miles to The Scotswood Road will provide the early Sunday morning backdrop to the challenge.

I'll be accompanied by fellow Tyne Bridge Harrier David Rowe. He accompanied me on day 3 of a recent training run from Edinburgh to Newcastle. After 2 mediocre days on the road, David helped me to a consistent and quicker than usual 25 miles on that final day. His support is going to be invaluable this weekend. I hope to return him to Tyne Bridge Harriers unbroken.

Benfield have been running a competition on Twitter all week asking for people to guess the time that it will take to run between the 2 dealerships. The majority of times have been very flattering indeed! These are the some of the notes that I issued to various parties this earlier this week

"Summary - Ultra distance training run designed to test endurance, conditioning, body clock, mental strength and concentration. The run starts at Benfield's VW dealership in Carlisle and finishes at Benfield's VW dealership in Newcastle. There will be no road side support for the first 25 - 30 miles meaning hydration and nutrition will have to be carried. A snooze of up to 2 hours may be required during the night. 

Expectations - Given current weight, fitness and condition, the completion of this run should be achiveable in 18 hours. 60 miles in 21.5 hours on the final day in the USA is the only recent comparable run. With the up and coming Death Valley run in mind, it would be preferable to do the run without a snooze. Being able to run through the night without such a rest will be of great benefit in Death Valley, making maximum use of the "sun down" hours. Getting to the finish line should provide an excellent boost of confidence. I'm not too bothered about the time it takes. Being able to finish it off is more important."

I'm expecting a few different types of challenge. The sheer distance is the main one, obviously. As I run through the night, fighting against my body clock when I should be sleeping is a close second. The route itself is very up and down with some really nice climbs to get stuck into.

Completing the run is of paramount importance. I'm not in the least bit bothered as to what time it takes. The confidence boost, going into my next 2 training challenges, that this could bring will be invaluable.

If I get through this run in one piece then I have just 3 weeks to prepare for a non stop 24 hour run around Newcastle Quayside. After that, I have just 11 days to prepare to run through Death Valley. 

It's a really tough Summer schedule and, admittedly, I could be in a lot better condition going into it. When I reach the finish point at the end of Death Valley on September 7th, I'll have just 13 months left before the run across Australia. The focus tomorrow and into Sunday will be firmly on completing another ultra distance run, namely the Benfield Challenge.