William sets PB but forced to take rests by race doctors – now back running
Firstly my apologies in the delay in bringing you some of this information. This was due to a combination of my eventually deciding to get some sleep plus (at William and the crew’s request as well as due my own caution) not wanting to put a report on the blog until the situation was clearer, plus getting a phone call from a reporter while typing this! William, the crew & 1 thought it best to put a report on the blog in case any of you are wondering why his running figures may seem a little erratic at present.
At the seven day point, three athletes have retired from the race. Doctors regularly monitor the health of the athletes at the event and under race rules have the power to force an athlete to stop for medial check-ups, to insist upon an athlete taking (lengthy) rest breaks or even to remove a runner from the race if they are concerned as to the athletes health.
Yesterday evening (Sunday), William was forced by the race doctor to come off track and take a 2hr rest, after which he was re-checked and allowed to return to the track. He continued running, with NO loss of form, and retained his 2nd place position, despite losing 2hrs of running.
Alan (in a series of emails which have been flying back and forth this morning) tells me that William’s blood pressure was taken as part of the daily monitoring with athletes weight. Alan tells me this was at 9am but I’m not sure if that is UK or local time. The race doctor found William’s blood pressure to be a little high and William was therefore instructed to rest again – for another 2 hrs. To say this will be “frustrating” for William would be putting in mildly, as from a personal perspective he is feeling absolutely fine and is running very well indeed.
To try to put this in context, William is not feeling ill in any way, his running has not been affected and (when actually on track) his pace has not dropped. Apart from setting a new M55 6-day road record yesterday, today William recorded his greatest ever distance in a race, passing the 857km he recorded in Hamm 2009.
Alan told me this morning that William is “Running unbelievably well and feeling so well, it is therefore a great
disappointment to be told to rest again.”
Alan added that William was “also concerned that if he has to rest further it might be impossible to reach the daily cut off distance. and hence not allowed to continue.”
Again, in context, the only way that would happen is if William was forced to remain off-track. At his current pace 50 miles per day is very comfortable figure, but obviously William cannot add any distance when not actually running.
The latest from Alan was this –
“Great news – at 6 days, 21hrs and 14 minutes William has been allowed to run again – currently on 864KM – 537 MILES.”
Alan tells me that Hiroko Okiyama, the Japanes #2 in the women’s 1000 mile race was also forced to take a rest, but Alan has no information on why.
Understandably the enforced rest periods are frustrating and, if this continues, will have a serious adverse effect on William’s race performance over the 1000 miles.
While the doctors simply have the health of the athletes as their main concern and are testing all athletes for e.g. blood pressure, dehydration, severe weight loss etc, there is inevitably going to be a difference in “medical opinion” and the athlete’s own opinion. As far as William (and the crew) are concerned, William feels fine and is running well and he wants to continue – period.
However, the race rules do not allow a runner to disregard medical opinion and continue to run “at their own risk”, so if the race doctor tells William (or any other athlete) to take a forced rest there is little that can be done about this.
It is totally understandable that doctors at the race are playing things “on the safe side” with the heath of the athletes but it should perhaps be pointed out that a lot of the physical standards that would apply to an average person may be rather different for a top ultra-runner. There is not exactly a huge amount of data on changes in the physiological condition of athletes during a 1000 mile race, and virtually by default anyone capable of running one-thousand miles is not going to have a “normal constitution”. Personally I would trust William’s own assessment of his condition far more than I would ever trust a reading such as heart rate or blood pressure; if he feels he is able to run, then he almost certainly is correct.
The good news here is that William is being allowed to continue in the race and having spoken to him myself, and having had reports from the crew, he feels in excellent condition and is eager to complete the 1000 miles.
Realistically, the enforced rests have already affected William’s pre-race targets. We will therefore be switching to a slightly revised race strategy and somewhat lower target levels. This is a little disheartening for al concerned as the revisions to our pre-race plans have not come because William somehow wasn’t running well enough, but rather due to off-track time that was not of his own choice.
However, William and the crew are all prepared for in-race changes and as long as the doctors allow, William will be back and running for the rest of the race. It is worth remembering that if William simply completes the 1000 miles within 16 days, he will become the oldest Briton ever to do so; at the last 1000 mile event no male competitor finished the 1000 miles, and in the race before that, no one completed the distance at all.
Whatever happens, William is still producing a really exceptional performance here.