Brian Layton’s Incombe Hole 100 Challenge

Brian’s report on his Incombe 100 Challenge adventure.

I thought I had better let you all know that I am still alive, if only just.

Well, what an amazing day Monday turned out to be, and that had nothing to do with my rather mediocre performance. I must start this roundup of the day’s proceedings by profoundly thanking, from the very bottom of my heart, the small army of TRC’ers that kept arriving, staying, sometimes for a considerable amount of time, then departing. You kept me on my toes by popping up from everywhere. The top, the bottom and even passing me going up when I was descending off to the side.  At one point I started to think that somehow a mysterious rota had been devised as no sooner had one person / group disappeared before the next lot arrived.

This just went on all day, with many of you doing reps. with me, and sometimes a LOT of reps.. I will not try and name you all for fear of missing someone out, especially as there was three or four members that I have not seen before. Equally so, I had not seen most of you for over a year.

As the day progressed and the fatigue truly set in, I am aware that I became rather emotionally fragile, so apologise if this became apparent. Your genuine and unconditional encouragement was truly fantastic, and not a heckler in sight.

I have also had a lot of very nice emails and would kindly ask those people to accept these ramblings as my response as I have had a very busy week getting my 96-year-old father out of hospital and trying to keep him out of trouble. 

Now for the boring bit, how did the day go ? I started at 05:40 am and decided that I would go left at the top for odd reps. And, you guessed it, right for the even ones. I also had, at the bottom, two plastic containers. One with 100 small snooker balls in it and the other to transfer a ball into it at the end of each rep.. This worked really well and at no time did I lose count. 

Simon arrived in time to see me through the 100-minute challenge and went up and down with me for well over an hour before running home to do a day’s work. I’m still not sure if this was to offset a tiny guilty conscience for devising such a wacky challenge or not. Anyway, it was very much appreciated and got me in the groove.

The early weather was very mixed, with sunshine one minute and rain the next, but with quite a strong wind throughout the day.

It wasn’t long before the day shift of support started to arrive and kept on arriving to the very end. The strategy of anticlockwise and clockwise reps also meant that the contour into the start point trashed the opposite side of my feet on alternate reps.

I took occasional short breaks to eat and drink but essentially kept plodding up and down all day.

John Manning stayed with me to see me through the ten-hour mark before speedily running home for a Zoom thingamajig. At about the 85 reps mark, when it was REALLY starting to hurt the very best Mrs. Motivator on the planet arrived in the guise of Celine. She had me convinced in an instance that it was in the bag. Her infectious positivity knows no bounds and we are all better people for experiencing it. She also got her husband to do alternate reps with me for a while. 

Next up and a very pleasant surprise, Simon, Kirsty and the children come trotting up the path for Simon’s second shift. He is in training for something or the other I believe, and does another hour with me. At this point I must tell you that I had the privilege and honour of first seeing Elizabeth and Jack in hospital when they were a few hours old. To see them now running up and down that face like a pair of gazelles was a truly heart-warming sight.

Next up, for the glory shift as he put it, was Andy and Dom, who stayed with me to the end of my 101st rep. Yes, 101. All day I had promised myself that if I managed to do the 100 challenge, I would do one more rep. JUST FOR ME. We were in the very last of the useable light and reached the bottom, for the very last time, at 21:29.

The basic stats for the day are thus:

(1) Start at 05:40, finish 101 reps at 21:29. 15 hours 49 minutes in total.(2) I did 14 reps in 95 minutes for the 100-minute challenge.
(3) I did 72 reps in 9 hours, 53 minutes within the 10-hour limit.
(4) I covered circa 50km in the process.
(5) I ascended in excess of 19,000 feet and, what a surprise, painfully descended the same amount. 
(6) As a septuagenarian, I claim the M70 title for both challenges, but eagerly await some competition in the near future.

I’ll finish by answering the obvious question, WHY? There were three main reasons why it seemed like a good idea.

(1) I needed a serious test for a bad knee injury I sustained just after Christmas. This kept me awake for 2 weeks and off running for 6 weeks. While I could just about feel it, it was no worse at the end than at the beginning, so job done. I only entered my 100 miler in two weeks after Monday because of this.                      

(2) Due to COVID, I had a lack of base climb in my legs (my upcoming 100 mile challenge has circa 17,500 feet of ascent in it). This just fitted the bill nicely.

(3) I wanted to give some perspective to Simon’s initial achievement, which was very good indeed. However, simultaneously being at the top and bottom of the same table tells you very little. He’s now at the top and I am at the bottom. I hope that other possible contenders will start to think about what they might be able to achieve, given the data. Just a thought, I’ll cross my fingers.

Thanks again for the incredible support. You collectively turned what would have been a very long and lonely day and, quite frankly, a war of attrition, into the best day I have had, on the hill, for a very long time. Sorry for being a bit long winded, but you should know what to expect from me by now.

With my very best regards to you and your families, yours in sport,

Brian Layton.

From Simon Barnett:

It took almost a year, but someone has finally had the gumption to attempt and succeed the wholesome version of the Incombe 100. Congratulations to Brian Layton.

There were a couple of highlights of particular highlights for me. Firstly Helen’s video during which she asked Brian if he was going to eat one of his 100 snooker balls that he was using as counters having mistaken them for some kind of foodstuff! And then (it could only be) Dave Jones who upon attempting to field his dog’s tennis ball about 1/3 way up the steps managed to step backwards into a combination of dog/ hawthorn bush before losing balance and somersaulting about 4m down the hill looking as if he wasn’t going to stop until Pitstone Windmill!

Undoubtedly though the star of the show was Brian who displayed dogged determination to complete this fantastic feat of endurance.  To keep going from lap 72 (after 10 hours) for another 5+ hours to reach the required 100 laps is exactly the kind of idiocy that the Incombe 100 was designed for.

The Incombe 100 remains open to all-comers until Covid is arbitrarily declared as being over the inaugural member.  In all likelihood that gives you just over a month to get involved – whether that’s as many complete laps as you can manage in 100 minutes (25 to beat) or the holy grail of reaching triple figures inside 10 hours…