One of my targets for 2012 is to compete in the Sri Chinmoy Sydney 24 hour race, June 23 – 24. It is the first organised sporting event I have ever entered. It will also be the first time, outside of training, that I have walked on a track. The venue is Blacktown International Sportspark at Rooty Hill, which has a synthetic all weather track.
Originally I had this in my calendar as part of training for my GNW 250 attempt later in the year, and it still is that. But I have also decided to try to make this a Centurion qualifying walk as well. That means walking 100 miles (161 km) in 24 hours in a track event. The walk must be judged by a qaulified judge as a legitimate walk (ie, no running!). The Australian Centurions is a club recognising anyone in Australia who achieves the feat, and they coordinate the judging. There have been 60 Australian Centurions.
There are also Centurions ultra walking organisations in other countries such as Belgium, UK, New Zealand and the USA.
All of my recent training is detailed on the training log page of this site. My program has included daily walks or runs, with sessions through the week focusing on strength, speed and endurance. Strength work has mainly been hill and stairs repeats. Speed work has included “sprints” repeats targeting either a particular 400m split time or a specific cadence, such as 160 steps/minute. Endurance training has included long walks of up to 50 hours and pacing sessions of up to 35km.
Pacing sessions involve walking at above the 24 hour race speed consistently for a set time or distance. Long walks are slower, with emphasis on “time on feet”, but have usually been at least 30km. As much as possible I have tried to do a moderately long walk (around 30-40km) one weekend and then a longer walk (40+km) or very hilly walk the next weekend. Here are examples of some of the long walks:
- 100km Teralba to Somersby on the Great North Walk, following the route of the GNW100 race
- 66km on roads Crows Nest to Galston via Hornsby and return via Pennant Hills
- 42km road marathon course; 120km Mittagong to Coxs River
- 50 km Somersby – Yarramalong return
- Berowra – Brooklyn 40km
100 miles in 24 hours is a difficult challenge. Looking at lap times from successful centurions in previous events, the key seems to be just consistent, steady effort virtually non stop for the whole time. I know from experience that I can walk more or less continuously for well over 24 hours, but doing it at a steady 3:30 or less per 400m lap without slowing down is a harder proposition. I am hoping that the event itself will add motivation and reduce the temptation to “pike” that is ever present during long training walks.
Just a few weeks to go before the race, and my training is reaching a peak. Soon I will begin tapering off for the big day. It will certainly be a new and exciting experience for me.