For me, ultrarunning takes me to amazing places both inside and out. Physically, running outside in beautiful countryside for hours and hours at a time is wonderful. As a boy, I always loved the outdoors, enjoying activities such as hiking, camping and canoeing and now later in life, ultrarunning takes me to some of the most scenic and beautiful parts of the country, to sample and enjoy the best that the countryside can offer – whatever the season or weather.
Mentally, ultra’s concentrate the mind and take me to unique places where everything else fades away. This is something that is difficult to do todays busy world, but outside running the hills and mountains for hours at a time, it is something that I look forward to and welcome. Meticulous planning is needed and constant monitoring in longer events, so my mind is taken up with this, which gives a welcome diversion from todays busy life of phone calls and emails.
My introduction to this world was a slow and steady build up, having agreed to run a road half marathon 5 years previously with a friend. After a few health scares and health warning signs in my early 40’s, a friend and I decided to run the Great North Run half marathon, this we managed to do in 2010 and my running career had be born at the age of 45. Over the next few years, I then ran half marathons and increased to road marathons, running London and Paris marathons in consecutive years.
In 2013 and 2014 I entered some trail running events, varying from 20k to marathon distances, but running trail marathons, off-road through the hills of the Lake District, Pennines and Peak District opened my mind to the idea of trail running as an alternative to road running. To be in the open countryside, running on tracks and trails, with steep uphill climbs, long flat ridges to run across, peaks and long steep decents into deep valleys, before doing the same thing again over the next hill, was just the thing! The combination of variation in terrain, altitude, climbing, weather conditions, navigation all make the sport so incredibly variable, no two courses or races are ever the same, even the same course can vary so much in different conditions at different times of the year.
The trail and ultrarunning community are also a wonderful group of people. Many races are extremely low key and lack the killer instinct and competitive element of many other sports. Long conversations with fellow runners often ensue whilst out on the trails, when you’re out there for 12-24 hours, you can get into some quite deep and interesting conversations with fellow runners. Everyone is equal out there and want to help each other, whilst everyone wants to do well, most of the competition is with yourself and achieving your own goals, whatever they may be. Helping each other or someone in need always takes a priority whilst out on the trails.