Last proper run before WS yesterday, apart from a few light jogs. I was planning on running the half marathon at the PCTR Pacifica race, which I'd done back in January too, but opted instead for the shortest race of the day (9.3km) and to use it as a slightly harder effort but short enough to not cause much damage to the legs.
Perfect, sunny weather started us off and it just got warmer and brighter as the day progressed, which should have made the 50k runners struggle a little. But all I wanted was a confidence boost that my legs would be ok and that I can climb and descend well enough to run WS well a week later. +/-1,200ft in two hills with a quarter of a mile on the flat in between them, means it's a good speed test so I was happy to lead from start to finish and win by over three minutes in 39:47.
After the disappointment of Comrades this year I needed this and it's a good sign, especially how easy the downhills felt...WS is a downhill course after all. There's only so much a short race can tell you about ultra form but the important thing was to feel that the overtraining was over. It probably is, so now there's just the really easy part of the taper left and a load more sauna sessions.
It looks like most of the men at WS will be showing up fit and ready so anything could happen on the day and I'd say there's probably around eight guys who could plausibly win, but if I was putting money on it then I'd say the winner will be one of Kilian Journet, Geoff Roes or Nick Clark. One thing's for certain, that whoever wins will have to hold off very hot competition and probably do the best run of their life. I also think the top 10 will be much less spread out than last year.
The women's field is very strong too and there's several women who are dominant in the shorter ultras versus some 100 mile specialists. I won't make a prediction, although I think I could call the lead pack at Foresthill (62 miles). But that's not important unless they keep it up for another 38 miles.
irunfar has a great prediction contest for the race as well as interviews with a lot of the male (US and foreign) and female (interview 1 and 2) contenders.
Also, on race day the runners can be followed on the live webcast site here. Twitter will undoubtedly have a million updates too, with the tag #WS100 (I assume).
Other random ultra stuff:
It's certainly ultra season now with the San Diego 100 last weekend (nice work, everyone, especially fellow PCTR team-mate, Larissa Polischuck, with her first 100 mile finish). There's a lot of other races too, but today is the start of the longest one out there - the LANY race covering 3,200 miles coast to coast from LA to NYC. One of my friends from London, James Adams, is running this and the stages average 45 miles per day through to late August. He will be blogging about it in painfully graphic detail here (if you know him, you know what I mean). Good luck, mate!
All my major races this year are dedicated to helping the Starfish Greathearts Foundation, which includes Western States. They support children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Southern Africa.
Given the extremely high rates of infection in South Africa and around parts of the Comrades course plus the many orphans resulting from this, I thought it'd be a great idea to help out. Therefore I've set up a justgiving site for UK residents who wish to donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/sharmanian/ as well as a donation website for anyone wanting to donate in dollars at: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/comradesTNF/comradesmarathon. Both these links also have more information about the work the charity does. Any donation is extremely welcome. Thanks.