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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The guy who can just keeps on running

I've met this guy and interviewed him several times and he seems plausible enough. Almost sane in fact. But then you find out what he gets up to in his spare time. Based on the tiny island of Sanday, in the Orkney Islands, William Sichel has become over the last decade one of the most talked about British ultra-distance runners.

When this guy, who is 56, runs he just goes on and on and on. He holds all kinds of records including the all-time Scottish record for covering 857.07km/532.56 miles in six days.

William will tell you that he believes he is ideally built for ultra-running. He's just 5' 5" tall and weighs only 9st 2lbs (58kgs). He also says he has a unique physiology being "extraordinarily adapted for fat burning requiring only tiny amounts of energy (less than 100kcals per hour) and fluid to produce optimum performance on long ultras".

Other interesting William facts: he's a cancer survivor, he runs a mail order thermal clothing company with his wife , they harvest fur from Angora rabbits on Sanday and has developed his own weights vest so that he can cover less distance in training for the same development potential.

Now William is taking part in a 1000 Mile World Cup event in Athens. He describes the event, taking place on Monday, as a “step into the unknown”. (I'd describe it as truly bonkers!)

William said: “This will be the pinnacle of my 16-year ultra-distance running career. The event, which is rarely held, is really taking me into foreign territory, as I have never run more than 532 miles in one go before so it is a mammoth step up in distance for me.”

William has prepared meticulously for this formidable event and has also spoken to other Brits who have completed 1000 miles in under 16 days during the past 30 years.

So think of William at mid-day (UK time) on Monday March 15 as he lines up in a field of 24 athletes, representing 12 nations, on the site of the former Athens International airport. He'll have 16 days to complete the miles. What an awesome thought!

And if William manages this, he will be the oldest British person ever to have done so.

Photo is courtesy of Alan Young