By Nick Harris
16 March 2010
A British ultra-distance runner who is hoping to become the first man in more than a decade to finish a 1,000-mile race had covered 97.56 miles (157km) in his first 24 hours, by midday today UK time, or 2pm local time in Athens, where the attempt is being made.
William Sichel, 56, an Englishman with Scottish roots who lives in the Orkney islands, is taking part in the 1,000-mile World Cup event at the International Ultra-marathon Festival, stage at Loutraki, outside the Greek capital. As of midday, UK time, 24 hours after the race started, Sichel was lying in fourth place, having run 157 laps of the 1km course.
“William is very comfortable and is doing well,” his crew manager, Alan Young, told sportingintelligence today. “He’s running in five-hour blocks as expected, then taking short breaks for food. Being placed fourth at this stage is in line with our expectations.”
The race is expected to last until 31 March for those who complete it. Although rest breaks are permitted, the race is “live” from start to finish and most racers stop solely for food, changes of clothes and power naps.
Sichel rested for three hours overnight in a tent at the side of the track but has otherwise stayed on the road, as he intends to do so for most of the next fortnight. His 24-hour distance means he has covered 6.54kms (4.1m miles) per hour overall. He is expected to continue at this pace for more than two weeks.
“Conditions are good and while it was cold last night, there is no wind or rain,” Young says. “We’ll have a better idea of the pecking order after three days. Some of the competitors go our fast and then drop off a bit. Some hardly rest at all for the first three days. William’s aim is to be steady throughout.”
The field was due to have 24 runners from 12 nations but only 16 starters made it to the start line.
In first place after 24 hours was Germany’s Wolfgang Schwerk, 54, having covered 191km (118.7 miles), followed by another German, 47-year-old Hans-Jürgen Schlotter (175km / 109 miles), then the Czech Republic’s Vlastimil Dvoracek, age 52, who had covered 162km (101 miles), and then Sichel.
Sichel beat Schwerk in a head-to-head race over six days in 2008 when Schwerk retired early but Schwerk’s pedigree includes being the current 3,100-mile world record holder.
The last British male to complete a 1,000 miles in under 16 days was a Scottish-Canadian, Al Howie, in 1991, when he was 45 years old. If Sichel completes the distance, he will become the oldest Briton ever to run 1,000 miles.
“William’s feeling fresh,” Young says. “He’s even had an ice-cream.”
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