101km Ronda: The thirteen Commandments of the finisher, by Mark Woolley. Fifteen times Ronda finisher

The 101 kilometers at Ronda, in Andalusia is the most charismatic endurance sports event in Spain. Trailrunners, hikers and mountain bikers alike will share its trails this weekend, savouring the rare privilege of having achieved one of the 4.000 entries that flew out months ago in just 45 seconds after the official opening.
Surely, there must be something to becoming a “Cientounero” as the race finishers are called, that keeps many great veterans coming back year after year. Mark Woolley is an expert ultrarunner who has ran from the alpine hundred miles at Chamonix´s UTMB to The High at Himalaya or the Spartathlon at Greece. Here are his personal thirteen commandments, from the voice of he who has crossed the finish line at Ronda 15 times already.




Fifteen times finisher at 101km Ronda. 

  1. Feel privileged. There is something like 20, 000 applicants for 7500 places and you have been really privileged to get a place. Don’t waste it.
  2. Be polite and respectful at all times. Actively say thank you to the soldiers and the volunteers.
  3. Take responsibility for your race and be realistic. Have a good idea of your ability before you go in and have an idea of what pace you need to set to reach your goal. And then slow down a bit more, especially at the start.
  4. Check out the weather ahead of time. Ronda can be very, very hot during the day, and quite cold at night. Make sure you know what to expect.
  5. If it is hot during the day. Slow down. The major reason for athletes failing in the heat is thinking they can maintain their normal winter pace in the heat. They can’t. I’ll say it again. Slow down.
  6. If it is hot, carry half a litre of water. There are stations every 5 kms but in the big heat between 2 and 5 pm those 5 kms can seem a very long way. Don’t risk getting to the station completely dehydrated.
  7. Take some salt with your drinks, but don’t overdo it
  8. Eat regularly. Grab something small at each station. But don’t over eat.
  9. If it’s cold, cover up. Take responsibility and make sure you carry enough clothes at all times.
  10. And the right clothes. If it rains, you’ll need a decent rain jacket, not that old windbreaker letfover from high school football games
  11. The night is cold even if the day is hot. Make sure you have enough clothes, especially if you’re planning on walking most of it.
  12. Don’t be soft. If it hurts, slow down, recover, get back on with the job. Don’t give up.
  13. Smile, enjoy. For many of us, the 101 is the best race in Spain. Period. Enjoy every second.

Mark (first left) and friends while running Barcelona – Malaga 1.100km