Croft Circuit 6 days

9th-15th February 2009
Start time: 10am

Sponsored by:
Darlington Building Society

Full Report:

Well it is all over now and I have unpacked and had time to sit and contemplate the last week. It has been one of the most amazing weeks I have ever experienced and although the outcome was not what I wanted there are just so many positive things that came from this small event. Being local it meant that many people could come and see me and witness the attempt or even run a few laps with me. The local media were incredible, coverage on TV and even front page news just for starting. The messages both in support before the event and flowers to cheer me up after abandoning the event can’t help but lift my spirits.

To the runners that did so much in keeping me company and the officials that travelled so far just to make this a success, I send my deepest thanks. Although this was a small event Croft was the most perfect venue ever for an ultra distance event and with the renewed interest in the Six Day Race it looks likely that the event will be held again but with a bigger and better organisation behind it. I did most of the organising myself, not ideal when you are trying to keep focus on the goal of the World Record, but having said that it had no impact on the final outcome.

The weather was cold as expected, and yes, we even started on a snow covered track, but it looks like I was heading for a stress fracture in my left shin and withdrew before it got too serious. With just 45 hours run and 166 miles, easily within schedule the injury was worsening and the prospect of another 4 days of running, or more probably walking turning into hobbling would have seen me fall behind schedule, not achieve my goals and end up with many weeks sidelined with injury. I was not here to waste people’s time, it was a record or bust, bust was the result. Anyone who would have pushed more would be sure covered by his life insurance.

I am feeling frustrated but content, I came to the event fit and confident and can take away some valuable lessons, both in organising and in scheduling my own race. I will be out for a few weeks to assess why I broke down and to try to avoid such problems in the future, probably just too much running as usual, but that’s what I do and why I run. Running is not a chore, it’s what I love doing, a day in the hills is sheer pleasure and feel lucky to be so fortunate to be able to run the way I do.

I now have the World’s Largest Jig-saw puzzle to look at and contemplate while I rest and recover, just 24000 pieces – that husband of mine does have his ways of keeping me at home. As usual I will be back, stronger and fitter just like last time, and there are many more races in me yet, so keep tuned.

News as it happened:

Day 3

Sadly today's news is that Sharon has had to pull out of the world record attempt with a stress injury to her shin. This was reported on BBC's Look North programme tonight.

A full report from Sharon will follow as soon as she is recovered.

Day 2

After just 2 hours rest last night Sharon has endured another cold day at Croft Circuit. At 5.30pm she has come in for a rest and pasta meal, and has 7 hours more running ahead of her before the allocated 3.5 hours rest tonight.

Sharon has been joined by Peter Rowley (Darlington Building Society Chief Executive) and friend John Fluke for support today.


Above: Peter Rowley, Sharon and John Fluke at around 5pm on Day 2

Sharon is still slightly ahead of her planned schedule with the following distances completed:

Bill at race HQDay 1
Time Kms
14.00 41.929
19.00 80.212
24.00 116.672
04.00 144.017
10.00 175.698

Day 2
Time Kms
14.00 200.53
18.00 226.052
(124 laps or 140 miles)

She is however feeling tired and is disappointed not to be feeling better than she is. In comparison with the Lands End to John O'Groats challenges she describes this as harder and more intense.



Above: Bill at race headquarters
Below: John Fluke and Peter Rowley

Day 1

The race is underway, started at 10.00am this morning by Tanni Grey Thompson, with ITV and several newspaper reporters present. The six runners who started the race were a little concerned to arrive and find the track covered in light snow, however it did clear after 2 hours thanks to some good weather.

Sharon is feeling comfortable and is slightly ahead of schedule with 80kms finished by 7pm. She plans to sleep from 3.00am to 5.30am before returning to the track for Day 2. Peter Rowley, Chief Exec of the Darlington Building Society is visiting this evening and running a few laps with Sharon.

Sharon's husband Bill is providing support and keeping in touch with telephone updates - check back tomorrow for the latest!


Event details

This event is run under UKA rules with a permit and is also Bronze Labelled by the IAU. The last 6 day road race run in Great Britain was at Trentham Gardens, Stoke, in 1984 and the ladies winner was Christine Barrett in 676.981km. The last 6 day event on the track was at Gateshead in 1990, so it has been 25 years since there has been such a race in this country. Due to the lack of experience of planning races this is going to be a small field of runners, but with an amazing wealth of experience in the officials on this event. I am extremely privileged to have the main three officials that all have a wealth of ultra distance experience.

Ian Champion, 28 years experience with the Flora London Marathon, nearly as long with the London to Brighton, refereed at many Tooting Bec 24 Hour Races and also refereed on the Flora 1000 Mile Challenge.

Roger Lawton, experienced 6 day runner himself along with being official at many other multi-day races, both here and abroad and could probably teach me a lot about the event.

Alan Young, (www.dionnetworks.com) crewed for me on LEJOG, supported many 6 days races and other multi-day events for other athletes, involved in many ultra distance world records, official timekeeper and lap recorder for this event.

Without these three experienced ultra distance men this event would not go ahead and am incredibly humbled to have such supportive people on board. To my sponsor, Darlington Building Society (www.darlington.co.uk), at a time when the credit crunch is biting this company is feeding me the life line to finance this event. Mannatech (www.mannatech.com) are providing my vital nutritional products as they have done for so many years now. The final thanks is to Spira (www.spirafootwear.co.uk), just making its launch in the UK and what better way to test these new shoes, my initial runs in these shoes have given amazing results.

Sharon with the race van

I must also thank Norman Wilson from the IAU with his patience for my never ending questions for the official stuff all to be completed correctly and the various contacts at UK Athletics for efficiently progressing my queries and concerns. Andy Milroy has also been instrumental with statistics and guidelines on race organising.

Planning has been underway for some significant time for this event to take place (them 3 months sat out with a stress fracture were very busy thinking, planning and consulting with Darlington Building Society) but the last few bits of official stuff have taken time to finalise. After a brief experience in the Monaco 6 Day race in 2007 the mistakes have been heeded and I am back fitter, more determined and hungry for success on a far better course.

The event is to be run on a 1.823km (approx 1.1 mile) course around the racing circuit at Croft, (travel details on www.croftcircuit.co.uk), just off the A167 between Darlington and Northallerton. This is a timed event and the winner is the person that covers the most distance in 144 hours.

The current records for running 6 days on road are:

  • World Men: Yiannis Kouros (GRE/AUS) 1036.8km
  • World Women: Catherine Cunningham (AUS) 820.765km
  • British Men: Richard Brown 833.640km
  • British Women: Pippa Davies 730.642km

My schedule is a punishing one, the target is a new British Record and then push on for an attempt at the World Record. 820km is around 510 miles and that means an average in excess of 85 miles (136km) a day. The schedule is set to cover over 100 miles on the first day and settle in around the 80 miles (130km) a day and pull this up to 90 miles on the last day by running through the night without any sleep, planned sleep on other nights is for less than 4 hours.

So very approximate miles/km for the days are as follows:
106 + 80 + 80 + 80 + 80 + 90 = 516 miles
170 + 130 + 130 + 130 + 130 + 146 = 836km

This website should be updated on a regular basis to keep you up to date on my progress, so many thanks to Ella and Vicky for all the work they are putting in to keep you informed.

Although I am fit and well prepared this is a long race and Croft Circuit is an absolutely superb venue where I have regularly run the Pit Stop 10km race. Smooth, flat tarmac, no sharp corners, no kerbs, no traffic, no public walking dogs and pushing prams etc., just perfect for putting the head in gear and getting on with the task. February is not however the best of months and the North East weather may play its part, but I am prepared for the cold, wet, biting weather we can expect, the layers are piled up, hat and gloves. The rest of the year is taken up with other commitments hence an early start to the season with a bang!

I have my ever loving husband Bill by my side crewing for me and doing his best at feeding me and everyone else involved. You are all most welcome to come and watch this local event taking place and hopefully the result will make its mark in History by creating a new World Record.

Predicted schedule:

DAY 1
Time Schedule
14:00 38km
19:00 74km
24:00 109km
04:00 142km
10:00 171km

DAY 2
Time Schedule
14:00 196km
18:00 222km
22:00 247km
03:00 273km
10:00 302km

DAY 3
Time Schedule
14:00 324km
18:00 353km
22:00 379km
03:00 404km
10:00 433km

DAY 4
Time Schedule
14:00 459km
18:00 484km
22:00 510km
03:00 535km
10:00 565km

DAY 5
Time Schedule
14:00 590km
18:00 616km
22:00 641km
03:00 667km
10:00 696km

DAY 6
Time Schedule
14:00 721km
18:00 747km
22:00 772km
04:00 810km
10:00 845km


   
   
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