By Nick Harris
21 March 2010
Britain’s foremost ultra-distance runner, William Sichel, who is attempting to become the first man in more than a decade to finish a “non-stop” 1,000-mile race, passed the half-way point, 500 miles, at around 4pm this afternoon (UK time, Sunday), having smashed one of his own world records earlier today.
Sichel, 56, is taking part in the 1,000-mile World Cup event at the International Ultra-marathon Festival, staged at Loutraki, outside Athens. The race began last Monday and is expected to finish before 31 March. Stops are allowed but the race is “live” from start to finish and most of the international field of 16 athletes stop only for food, changes of clothes and short bursts of sleep.
At the six-day stage – midday today, UK time – Sichel was in second place having covered 800km (497 miles). Germany’s Wolfgang Schwerk was leading, on 870km (540.5 miles), with Italy’s Lucio Bazzana in third, on 754km (468.5 miles).
Sichel stopped for a break and a power nap having run 803km (498.96miles). Speaking to sportingintelligence from Athens, Sichel’s crew manager, Alan Young, said Sichel had a rest period to coincide with the hottest part of the day, then passed the 500-mile mark after resuming.
Young said: “We thought it prudent for William to take his rest during this hottest part of the day. The temperature has been as high as 21 degrees [21C/70F], or just above, and there is little or no breeze.
“Everything is going as well as we could have expected. William is doing fine. There is no indication that he won’t finish the 1,000 miles.
“Schwerk is an incredible competitor who stays out in the heat but the distance between first and second at this stage doesn’t mean anything definitive. What will be most interesting is how they cope into the second week.”
The world record Sichel broke today is the M55 (men over 55) record for the furthest distance covered on the road in six days. Sichel set the previous record last year in Athens when he ran 466.65 miles, so 497 miles this time smashes that old distance by more than 30 miles – longer than a full normal marathon.
Even more extraordinary is the fact the Sichel was running a six-day race when he set his old record. This time he is pacing himself to reach 1,000 miles.
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