The Transcontinental Race starts at 9pm UK time on Sunday, and goes from Geraadsbergen in Belgium to Burgas on the Black Sea, in Bulgaria – about 4,200km.
Highlights include the Muur at the start, where spectators line the sides holding flaming torches, the Passo di Gavia in the Italian Alps, the Transalpina in Romania and Durmitor in Montenegro.
f you’re interested in following, there is a dotwatching site and there will be updates on this site, as well as various other places on social media. I won’t post much while I’m riding, but lots of other people will!
There are some really strong riders this year. The best known is Christoph Strasser, who has won RAAM five times and holds the world 24 hour record (>1,000km). He has to be the favourite. I’m sure he’ll have prepared meticulously but it’s his first unsupported race, and you always learn something first time – so he might make a mistake. Michael Broadwith – multiple UK 24-hour champ and RRA record holder for LEJoG and Edinburgh-London is also making his debut in ultra-racing and he should be well up there. Making up the likely top three is Ulrich Bartholmös, who has beaten everyone in ultras in the last couple of years and is just back from altitude training in Andorra. Then there is Omar di Felice, Bjorn Lenhard, who has come second a couple of times, Matt Falconer who has also come second, and the top two from last time – Fiona Kolbinger and Ben Davies.
I’ll be well behind those guys. The winner might finish in 10 days, but I’ll be very happy to get there in 13 or 14. I rode in 2016, when it took me 13 days and I came 32nd, and 2019, when I had to abandon half way with Shermer’s neck, so getting to the finish again is my first target.