Monaco 8-Day Race – So near and yet so far…

So near and yet so far…

William won’t be breaking the M55 1000km record – at least not this time.

Ups and downs, wins and losses and even near misses are always the part of any race, ultra-distance being certainly no exception.

My first indication came from Alan when he emailed to say that William had

“Just had a 2 hour break and at 963.4k. predicted to reach 1000k around 11am”

It is always hard to comment meaningfully at distance, the crew are at trackside and we are at the other end of computers, and having crewed myself I know only too well that there really is a world of difference. Initially I was concerned that William was suffering a bit too much from pushing the pace at this stage, but no, he’s fine (at least as fine as anyone can be having been running for around seven and a half days). The decision to take a rest at this point was (I think) prompted mainly by not realising just how close he was to breaking the 1000km record and deciding instead to concentrate on a higher 8-Day total. By my calculations, had William not come off-track and simply kept going he could have / would have broken the 1000km record. But that’s very easy to say from here and a lot harder to judge at race-side, especially without the benefit of accurate distance updates. I’m not about to start passing around the sour grapes here – William has run in Monaco twice before, winning on both occasions, and after last time he said he’d never go back, basically due to the overcrowding on the course and the difficulties in obtaining race data while running. But he changed his mind (largely as this was the only chance for a second multi-day race this year) and he knew what faced him going in to the race. Unfortunately, all the difficulties we had been concerned about have indeed been present.

As Alan wrote, throughout the race it has

“Always been difficult to judge distances due to delay in obtaining info.”

– The updates you see have seen on the blog are basically the same as those the crew have been using to gauge William’s distance. We had initially been hoping to have GPS support during the race, but this proved to be too inaccurate at the race to properly measure by. The race has no manual lap counters (understandably enough given the roughly 6,000 people taking part over the course of the event) and the only distance updates available to the crew have been those provided by chip-control (the same ones I have posted on the blog), and often these have only been updated every few hours or more. That might not seem like too big a deal, but it can make all the difference in the world. Earlier in the race William was by my calculations within about half a kilometre of breaking the Scottish and British 48hr record (at both M55 and overall) when he came off-track with around twelve and a half minutes to spare. Why? The crew thought he had covered 2 more laps than was actually the case because the print-outs of the chip-distances had an error. William’s crew are as dedicated as they come and really no-one can blame them for this. It is not too difficult for either a runner or crew keep their own lap count over the space of a couple of hours. Ensuring that the lap count is accurate over the course of days is really another matter – no matter how dedicated you are, everyone needs to eat, go to the toilet and sleep now and again, and there are a thousand and one distractions (not least of which are seeing to the needs of the runner such as cooking food and mixing drinks). And after over a week with little sleep, it is all too easy to have the odd error in estimates. Of course, 6,000+ people on the track have added other problems. As Alan wrote

“All the records { that William has aimed for } have been very strong and that William has got so close to them will eventually show what a performance this has been. Also to break the course record by 8.5% and more proves the point


“It was the course and the other 6 thousand people, plus dogs, prams etc that has beaten us.”

So is all lost? Far from it. It’s been a hell of a race so far… Aside from his 72hr M55 record, William has set a new Course Record (and every step he takes increases this). He will become the first person ever to go over the 1000km mark in Monaco, his eventual 8-Day distance remains to be seen. And oh yes, barring a major disaster he is going to win the race – by a very impressive margin.

All in all, not a bad performance so far.

And it’s not over yet…