William Sichel

Jan 062017
 

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I wanted to write a short post about the event that became the venue for my 100th ultra –  the Brugg 24 hour road race in Switzerland, just 21 miles from the capital Zurich.

Although a fairly frequent visitor to Switzerland over the years I had never been to Brugg before.  More often I had been to Basel for the Self Transcendence 24 Hour race, which has always had a special significance for me as it was the place where, on my first visit, I set my life time best 24 hour distance of 246.704km/153.295 miles in the year 2000. Feels like a while ago now but I can still feel the exhaustion, the sore feet and the elation!  At the time I was hot off a long 100km career and had great speed endurance and it all came together in that race.

My crewman since 2004 Alan Young often waxed lyrical about the Brugg 24 hour road race and became a frequent helper and subsequently Race Referee too.  Furthermore, I had known the race director for some time, local man Fredi Buchler, whom I had first met in Monaco, possibly during my first 6 Day race in 2006.  Fredi is an accomplished para-athlete in his own right and I had become familiar with his cheeky grin, lap after lap in Monaco.

For a while it was quite unclear which race would actually be my 100th.  Initially, when my race notes were checked by a third party, a missing race was spotted so that moved the 100th one race sooner.  Then the postponement and ultimate cancellation of the Brazil Multiday Ultramarathon Festival, planned for February 2016, put a spanner in the works and I had to re-jig my plans for the whole year.  Eventually I was delighted to realise that my first visit to Brugg and the venue for my 100th ultra, would in fact be Fredi’s 24 Hour!

My wife, Elizabeth and I have friends in Basel so I decided to travel from there to Brugg early on the Saturday morning.  The pleasant and relaxing train journey took about 45 minutes and I was delighted to see Fredi and his friend waiting for me.  A very short drive found us entering the park where the race is held.

My immediate impression was of a very green, well sheltered and shaded location surrounded by impressively high trees. Coming from the Orkney Islands I always notice large trees! The smooth, almost perfect tarmac surface is like a giant athletics track in shape, with a slightly flattened curve at one end and measures a level 934.8m.

I had a short interview with a local paper and then enjoyed the quiet busyness that is always associated with these events.  I soon found my helper Wendy Edwards and she showed me the best spot for my table.  Personally I’m pretty much independent of the race for my minimal supplies but I could see that there was a very good spread of food, drinks  and regular meals expertly provided by a keen band of helpers headed by Dorothea, whom I had first met and run with, in that amazing Basel 24 hour in 2000.

The race enjoyed superb weather throughout with warm sunshine on the Saturday, over-night mist and fog and finally sunny again for the closing hour on Sunday.

As well as the 24 hour race, which is the Swiss Championship in alternate years, but not in 2016, there were keenly contested 6 hour and 12 hour (Swiss Championships) races as well. The event attracted an international field of 59 runners in total, across all the individual events.

Personally, the amazing man on the PA system, Thomas Eller, really brought the event to life.  Speaking German and English he managed to encourage the runners, supply useful information on positions and lap times as well as inform the gathering crowd of spectators about what was going on.

My impression of the Brugg 24 Hour was of a very well run, friendly event with a setting, location and infrastructure that could support a very much larger competition.  The quality of the circuit is such that anyone wanting a suitable road race for an attempt on a record or PB should give serious consideration to Brugg and remember September 2017 is the 10th edition.

Full results and more information can be found here:

http://www.24stundenlauf.ch/en/

 

 

Oct 202016
 

Sichel ends season with French 6 Day Championships

 

Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (63) travels to Privas, near Valence, in the Ardeche region of France for the French 6 Day Championships starting on Sunday October 23rd at 3pm UK time and finishing on Saturday 29th at 3pm.

This event has attracted a capacity entry of 170 runners and walkers, so competition over the 144 hours will be fierce.  The event had a home in Antibes for some years, before moving to the town of Privas last year.  Good weather conditions are expected being neither too hot nor too cold.

William has a lifetime best 6 Day performance of 532 miles set in 2008 at a race in Hamm, Germany.

“I’ve managed to get over 500 miles in 6 days, eight times in my career so far.  My best as an over 60 is 473 miles which I ran in Arizona in 2014, so I’ll certainly be looking to better that.”

William is fresh from running his 100th ultra event at the Brugg 24 hour road race in Switzerland just a month ago.

“That race went really well with my best 24 hour run for seven years and seven age group records too, so I was really pleased with that.”

William is grateful to Alan Young for crew support in France.

William has currently set 190 running records at World, British and Scottish level, including age-group records. His shortest record is an age-group one for 30 miles on the track and his longest is an overall British record for 3100 miles/5000km on the road.

William runs to high-light the benefits of exercise for the over 60s as well as raise money for the CLAN cancer support charity. William’s dedicated CLAN web page can be found here: http://www.justgiving.com/William-Sichel

Main Sponsor Alfred Flett Ltd

 

May 052016
 

HOKA Bondi 4 Wide

Appearance

The familiar, over sized appearance of the Bondi 4 Wide is very noticeably wider in the forefoot, in this welcome new version.

The widest part of the human foot is across the toes and not the balls of the feet and this I confirmed on a recent visit to my new grand-daughter.  Unfortunately, running shoes often don’t conform to this shape.

I’ve loved the HOKA shoes since their first appearance on the scene but have always struggled with the too-narrow toe box. To compensate I’ve had to use shoes a few sizes larger.  I have also tried cutting the toe box away – not an uncommon trick for multiday runners – but this can then lead to other problem areas.  Hence my enthusiasm to try this new, wider version of the popular Bondi shoe.

When I weighed the Bondi 4 Wide UK size 9, without any insole, it weighed 286g, compared to a New Balance 1080v5 4E which came in at 279g.  An excellent weight belying their bulky appearance.

Fit 

As mentioned, I like a wide fitting shoe and because of this new version I was able to accept a ½ to one full size smaller shoe because of the wider toe box which is great.

I’m very fussy about a shoe’s upper design, as excessive strapping and stitching can be a nightmare, producing increased areas to rub and chafe over countless miles.

As soon as I put my hand into the shoe it felt like a glove and I was delighted to see that this new, wide version has minimal stitching and strapping on the upper.  The area where the, traditional-type tongue, is stitched to the upper, at the forefoot, has also been considerably ‘smoothed off’ compared to earlier models which is a boon. All other design is cleverly just printed onto the shoe.  Brilliant idea. 

Feel 

A fantastic, smooth ride which I adjusted to, within minutes and simply loved.  I run for hours and days in races, so spend huge amount of time with my running shoes on.

When I’m running in multiday races, up to 3100 miles in length, I experience a rising tide of pain, fatigue and sleepiness and anything that can help with that is a God send.

The running surface tends to feel harder and harder as the event progresses and being able to run in HOKA’s is an absolute dream.  Less impact, less pain as the event nears its conclusion.

For me, one of the most powerful sensations was when I switched back to my normal running shoes – it felt like I was running barefoot, such was the difference the HOKA’s were making! 

Conclusions

I have quite a history of finding it difficult to find shoes that fit me well – even before I moved up to very long ultra distance running.  For these shoes to have been such a success in such a short time does say a lot for the new HOKA Bondi 4 Wide shoes.  So, if a wider fit and a great feel are what you are looking for then these might be for you.

It is also clear that the company are listening to and working with, runners across a whole range of disciplines which is a very encouraging approach these days and will, I’m sure, mean continued innovation and success for HOKA and their athletes.

Time to Fly!

William Sichel

Shoes supplied by UltramarathonRunningStore.com

Apr 092016
 

Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (62) was 17th male finisher in the British 100km Championships held in Perth, Scotland and claimed the runner-up prize in the over 60 division.

William completed the 42 lap race, around Perth’s North Inch Park, in 10 hours, 13 minutes and 37 seconds to record his fastest 100km for 14 years, the last time he tackled one of these events.  William passed the marathon point in 3 hours 47 minutes and the 50km half-way mark in 4 hours 32 minutes, then hung on to complete the 62.2 mile event, his 98th ultra marathon.

“I was pleased that I could still be competitive in my age-group at these ‘short’ ultra marathons as I’m best at multiday events these days. The race was hard in a different sort of way compared to my really long races. It was also great to meet up with many of the new generation of ultra runners coming into the sport.”

William has currently set 181 running records at World, British and Scottish level, including age-group records. His shortest record is an age-group one for 30 miles on the track and his longest is an overall British record for 3100 miles/5000km on the road.

William hopes that the current records he has set, which are all meticulously documented on his web site, www.williamsichel.co.uk , will all be broken and will act as goals, motivation and incentives to the current and future generations of runners.

William completed his last record project, Project165 in November last year and will announce a new record project later this year.

Mar 242016
 

Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (62) heads to Perth, Scotland this weekend to participate, as an individual, in the British 100km (62.2 miles) road running Championships which start at 7am on Easter Sunday.

This will be William’s 98th ultra marathon and his first 100km race for 14 years, as he has focussed on much longer races over the past years.

William is a former British 100km Champion and won the World Masters 100km Championships in 1998, in Holland, recording 7 hours 16 minutes 24 seconds.

“My times will be a bit less ambitious than that nowadays but I’m looking for a good steady run on the excellent course in Perth.  It will also be great preparation for the Comrades Marathon (55 miles) in South Africa, which I’m running at the end of May.”

The 100km race, which is held on a 1.46 mile, lap course, around the North Inch in Perth, will also host the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km Team Competition between home nation men’s and women’s teams.  A 50km race will also take on the same day starting at 10am.

William has currently set 181 running records at World, British and Scottish level, including age-group records. His shortest record is an age-group one for 30 miles on the track and his longest is an overall British record for 3100 miles/5000km on the road.

William hopes that the current records he has set, which are all meticulously documented on his web site, www.williamsichel.co.uk , will all be broken and will act as goals, motivation and incentives to the current and future generations of runners.

William completed his last record project, Project165 in November last year and will announce a new record project later this year.

Feb 282016
 

pc

Sincere thanks to Rob and Michael at RM Computing, Kirkwall, Orkney for their friendly and professional advice when I wanted to upgrade my hardware and software.

I have now been fully ‘professionalised’ for the first time for a great many years!  All the hardware and software is fully co-ordinated and inter-linked via smartphone, tablet and PC and all hardware components are covered by warranty too.

It all certainly makes a huge difference when I’m working a lot on the computer and  all my business and coaching are via the internet.

Thank you RM Computing

Feb 182016
 

Orkney-based ultra marathon runner, William Sichel (62) has released details of his race programme for this year.

William will run as short as a standard 26.2 mile road marathon in Orkney and as long as a 6 Day road race in France.

“One of the main features of this year’s races is that I’m going to return to some shorter events over the first half of the year. This is something I haven’t done for a great many years, but things just fell into place this year, so I’m excited to give it a go.”

William will open his racing with the British 100km road running Championships in Perth, Scotland on March 27th. This will be William’s first 100km race for 14 years. He is a past British (1999) and Scottish (1994) 100km champion.

Following Perth, William will at long last tackle the iconic Comrades Marathon (55 miles) in South Africa on May 29th – the World’s largest ultra marathon with 20,000 starters.

“in some ways I should have done this about 20 years ago but it just didn’t happen. I’m under no illusions about how difficult it will be to do this on a ‘one-off’ basis. It will be a huge challenge.”

On July 3rd William plans to line up for the first ever marathon in Orkney, the St Magnus Marathon, running from Kirkwall to Birsay.

“I’m pleased and proud to be doing this one and I certainly didn’t want to miss it. It will be a great opportunity for me to compete at home for a change. It will be my first marathon for 17 years.”

At the end of July William will return to longer races for the rest of the year and he begins with a re-arranged 48 Hour race in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

“It’s actually quite a long story as this was supposed to be a 1000 Mile race in February but the whole multi-race event had to be postponed at late notice. As flights could be re-arranged but not cancelled I’ve opted for this compromise.”

On August 12th and 13th I’ll be involved in a 24 Hour Charity Challenge in Kirkwall raising funds for the CLAN Cancer Support charity.

In September it’s off to Switzerland for the Brugg 24 Hour road race near Zurich and finally it will be the French 6 Day road race in Privas at the end of October.

“It’s certainly a long and busy year but the events are all fitted in nicely with one race building me up for the next one. As I’ve done 97 ultras to date, I’m hoping to complete my 100th this year, health and fitness permitting.”

William has currently set 181 running records at World, British and Scottish level, including age-group records. His shortest record is an age-group one for 30 miles on the track and his longest is an overall British record for 3100 miles/5000km on the road.

William hopes that the current records he has set, which are all meticulously documented on his web site, www.williamsichel.co.uk , will all be broken and will act as goals, motivation and incentives to the current and future generations of runners.

Dec 312015
 

I thought it was about time that I documented all my marathon and ultra marathon races attempted so far.

My first marathon was in 1981, after which followed an 11 year break whilst I established a new life in the Orkney Islands.

I started running again ‘for fun’ in 1992 with no ambitions what so ever except to ‘get fit’ for when I would shortly be 40.

My first ultra was the Isle of Man TT 40 Mile road race in May 1994.

Currently 97 ultras on the list with 17 wins.

Full list here:  Races

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