Why do you enjoy such long races?
A big part of it is escapism – getting away from work stresses (yes I do have a day job) – and combining a personal urge to compete, seek adventure, keep fit and to challenge myself really, really hard.
More than anything I would say the experience factor is most important. Being able to run and compete in beautiful scenery all over the world, against the best in the world, takes some beating. There are always memorable moments that will stick with you for life. Those little exchanges with fellow competitors, the spectacular sunrise, the unbeatable feeling of conquering 100miles in the mountains. It’s hard to put into words, but I can’t recommend it highly enough. You soon find out who you are, and gain a perspective on life that’s hard to re-create in other ways. Sorry, I’m getting a bit deep…
Do you have any races or challenges high up on your dream list?
I’m pretty psyched for this year’s Dragons Back Race, a five-day stage race down the mountainous spine of Wales, which starts at the end of May. It’s a British classic offering a huge test, not only physically, but of other skills such as mountain craft and navigation. A lot of the route is rough and trackless so it’s hard to cover the distance quickly. And with 315km and 15,500m of ascent, that presents quite a challenge! As well as racing I’d love to have a go at some of the classic UK hill running challenges such as the South Wales Traverse or Paddy Buckley Round. It’s hard to keep up with all the new races springing up, but I still have some of the old names on the list such as Hardrock and Leadville. I’ll get there one day.
What was your favourite/hardest memory from LUT 2016?
The Lavaredo Ultra Trail was an amazing experience. The Dolomites offer a stunning backdrop with some beautiful hidden valleys and dramatic trails. My favourite part had to be sunrise around the back of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, three iconic rock towers grouped together on the far side of the course. During the first night there were flashes of electrical storms all around. Somehow the race course stayed dry, but the atmosphere it created was amazing. It got really hot towards the end and it was tough holding it together, but the atmosphere in Cortina on Saturday afternoon at the finish was brilliant and worth all the effort, especially the litre of ice cold lemonade at the end.