From 24 hours of pounding the wet, cold and windy streets of Taipei to the traditional New Year’s Eve ‘Beer Mile’ at Masterton’s Sports Bowl!
Greytown ultra-distance runner James Inwood is looking forward to the lighthearted challenge of downing a beer, running 400m, and repeating it every lap for four laps of the athletics track in stark contrast to the rigours of a demanding World 24-hour Championship race, in which he struggled with a sore back and knees for most of the race.
“It was pretty tough from the get-go, and lots of people struggled on the surface and the terrain and with the weather, so it was a bit of a grind from the start,” Inwood said.
“We went there thinking it was going to be very, very humid, but it was colder than expected, and I didn’t run a single step in just a singlet; I always had something on underneath it.
“We had rain, and we had a reasonably strong wind all day, so there was a headwind down one bit and a tailwind on the way back, but that meant you couldn’t get into any rhythm, and there was quite a tight hairpin at one end, and I think that’s what did my knee and a lot of people had knee issues as well.
“It was also the first 24 hours I’d done on asphalt rather than an athletics track.”
Inwood’s back and knee issues forced him to stop for a massage after about 70km, and although that cured his back pain, he battled with sore knees throughout the race.
Despite his struggles, Inwood was satisfied he achieved a personal best [PB] of 204.056km, beating his previous best by about 1.5km, in finishing 82nd overall and 14th in the men’s 45–49 age group, but he had hoped to go further and had been on track to better 210km until the pain set in.
“I was confident I would tick over the 200, but that buffer in between got smaller and smaller as I started to suffer, and I slowed down a bit.
“I probably could’ve down another two or three km, but in the scheme of things, it wouldn’t do much more.”
The New Zealand men’s team finished 18th and the women were 17th, exceeding their expectations, efforts which pleased Inwood, although he said their team setup was way behind other teams.
“The difference between New Zealand and some of the other countries like Australia and the USA was that their support crews were so slick, and we lost time by stopping and deciding on what nutrition we needed, and they had their stuff already and just kept going.”
A highlight for Inwood was lining up against the world’s elite ultra-runners, although he said most were below their best in the challenging conditions. Men’s winner, Aleksandr Sorokin from Lithuania, smashed out an incredible 301.790km, but that was well short of his world record of 319.614km.
The Oceania 24-hour championship in Canberra in April and the 2025 world championships in France are future targets for Inwood. However, more immediate plans are to attempt the Badwater 135, a 217km race through Death Valley, billed as the world’s toughest foot race.
“That race I went and crewed at in Death Valley earlier this year, I want to try and qualify for that. I’ve got to do a lot of longer races next year outside my comfort zone and offroad, which is not me,” he said.
Before then, though, is the ‘Beer Mile’, and Inwood is determined to give it his best shot on New Year’s Eve.
“If you win one of those races, and they’re run all around the world, it is compulsory to say that this is the most epic running achievement.”