Alison Walker - The Smog Graham Round

I began ultra-running in 2019 having read a book “Running up that hill” by Vassos Alexander and was intrigued by ultras. Spartathlon also grabbed me, so I signed up for my first 100-mile race in March 2019 with an aim of a sub 22-hour time to qualify for the lottery. Whilst the weather wasn’t very kind with 86mph gusts, I managed to achieve a sub 22 time and thought that this ultra-thing really suited me!

I prefer ultras as the atmosphere is far less tense than the marathon and marathons stress me out. I enjoy running at an enjoyable pace all day... can’t tell you why, but I do!

Alison, what & where is the Smog Graham Round?

The Smog Graham round is a circumnavigation of all 32 boroughs in London, going up each “peak” in each borough. The route is 50% off road and has never been completed by a solo runner. A similar but shorter route (150 miles) has been completed as a relay by Runners World. A lot of the route has great similarities with the London LOOP and the Capital Ring (which I got terribly lost on), but I am hoping that as I have recited a bit more of the route and paced a friend for 40 miles on the London LOOP that I should be ok. I also have friends who will be with me all the way who will hopefully decipher gpx files better than me!

And why are you taking this route?

As all my races have been cancelled/postponed, I decided to set myself a challenge having never run this far before. I am also treating this as my last long run before Gloucester 24!

How have you prepared yourself for this route?

I have done some recce-ing of the course and will be relying on my watch and e-trex for any navigational issues!

What fuelling will you be using along with you during your attempt?

I will mostly be relying on Unived gels because of their high calorie and 2:1 ratio which has helped me in other races. I will be mixing it up with some proper food as well, aiming to take in 200 calories per hour as a minimum. I will also take Precision Hydration sachets to keep my electrolyte stores topped up. 

What do you like about the Unived gels?

I like that Unived as a company has done a lot of research into making a great product, and most importantly, the gels tastes nice and does not cause me any GI issues.


About the Author
Alison Walker
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