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
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence