Englishman nears end of 1,000-mile race

Since a week ago last Monday, William Sichel has been running around a 1km circuit of road at a disused airport outside Athens in an attempt to become the first man in more than a decade to finish a 1,000-mile running race.

Now into its 12th day, the World Cup 1,000-mile event at the International Ultra-marathon festival is "live" from start to finish, with stops only for food, changes of clothes, naps, and, increasingly, medical attention.

An international starting field of 16 is down to 12 remaining competitors after four forced withdrawals, one by a German runner who had already run 757km.

Sichel, 56, is an Englishman of Scottish heritage who lives in the Orkney islands and makes his living hand-dyeing Angora wool to be made into clothes, including thermal underwear. He currently looks most likely to finish second in the race, staged at Loutraki just outside the Greek capital.

The leader at the 11-day stage, at 2pm local time today (midday UK time) was Germany's Wolfgang Schwerk, who had covered 922 miles (1,484km) by that point. Schwerk is expected to finish the race – and therefore win – sometime tomorrow.

At 2pm Sichel was lying in second place, having run precisely 800 miles (1,287km), with Italy's Lucio Bazzana behind him in third on 789 miles (1,270km).

Sichel's crew manager, Alan Young, speaking to sportingintelligence from Athens this afternoon, says Sichel is in "fantastic" shape and is still targeting a world record from second place. The 1,000-mile world record for men aged 55 and over is in sight. It stands at 14 days 20 hours and 45 minutes and is currently held by another Briton, Dan Coffey. Sichel will need to finish before 10.45am on Tuesday, Greek time, to beat that record.

If Sichel finishes at all, he will become the oldest Briton ever to run 1,000 miles. He will also become the first Briton in almost 20 years to run 1,000 miles in under 16 days. The last person to do that was a Scottish-Canadian, Al Howie, in 1991.

Sichel had a setback earlier this week when the race doctor forced him off the track to rest for a total of around five hours in short spells. All the runners have a brief medical at 9am every morning to check their weight and blood pressure; at these extremes of endurance, serious health problems are a possibility.

"William's blood pressure was a little high and the doctor said rest, so rest was mandatory," Young says. "William felt absolutely fine. He didn't want to stop. We think it cost him about five hours altogether. But we accept you have to be careful. There was also an issue of some fluid retention and puffiness around one eye. That could have been dangerous but wasn't. He's fine.

"He's in great shape. He's doing his running in five-hour blocks and as we're towards the end now, we're doing five hours running, stop for three, five more, stop for two. He's got that record as his target."

Sichel always knew that his toughest opponent would Schwerk, 54, who has covered the distance before (unlike Sichel), although the Briton beat the German in a head-to-head over six days in 2008 when Schwerk retired early.

Schwerk certainly has long-distance pedigree, as the current 3,100-mile world record holder and as someone who ran an average of 72.8 miles per day for 42 days in 2002, setting 74 distance records in the process.

News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Desktop, Surrey)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Graduate, Helpdesk, Deskto...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape