I'm a busy family man when I'm not working. 4 kids and 2 dogs are enough to keep us all active, training gets squeezed in before school or after bed time!
I've always kept active and have been a keen runner for the last for the last 8 years from that first painful 10km, to 10 miles, half-marathon and that slippery slope you get on when you read about ULTRA somewhere online. I then became obsessed with doing the Oner - an 82-mile ultramarathon along the Jurassic Coast from Charmouth to Studland, and did my first marathon as Lulworth Cove to Studland. I've since done the Oner 3 times, along that journey I "had to get 100 miles out of my system" and did the Cotswold Way, 102 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath. These races earned me enough points to enter UTMB in 2016, what many people see as the pinnacle of ultra running, 100 miles around Mont Blanc in the Alps, starting in Chamonix and going into Italy and Switzerland. Since UTMB I have done a 24hr track race, yes 24hrs on a 400m track, crossed Devon in the Coast to Coast 117 miles event and the Arc of Attrition, another 100-mile event, this time on the Cornish Coast path in winter.
All this being said, I've never really liked racing, these are all personal challenges, a test of one's self if you like, push my limits, and get out of my comfort zone - that is what drives me. It is amazing what the human body can achieve when pushed to the max, riding the highs and lows, each one being a special journey.
What is the Stour Valley Way?
Essentially it is a long-distance way marked path that follows the River Stour from its source, Stourhead in Wiltshire, to sea, Hengistbury Head near Christchurch. It passes near my house in Blandford, where I spotted some signs and started investigating.
You can do it whenever you like! I'll be doing it at some point over next weekend, see what the weather is like and fit around family plans.
How have you prepared for this 105km challenge?
Since recovering from an ankle tendon injury just at the beginning of lockdown I have been working with Damian Hall (Inov-8 athlete, Pennine Way FKT holder, 5th @ UTMB) as my coach. He wouldn't let me do this until I was ready - there's a difference between going out and blagging the route and running it properly. I learned this on a failed attempt last year when I was sick, slept on a golf course and stopped about 5km from the end. I was that pathetic.
How are you going to attempt it (solo, team, support)?
I'll be running solo and self-supported. That means that I cannot have any assistance so will be caching supplies in advance, purchasing supplies along the way, or finding / begging for food or water if things get desperate.
What fuel will you be using pre, during & post?
Pre run I just nutrition normal, keep my hydration up, don't eat anything strange or 'risky' for my stomach. I don't follow any particular diet, as healthy and varied as we can.
My go-to event fuelling strategy is quite simple - Precision Hydration for my electrolytes and salt tablets, a mix of GU gels, Clif Shotblocks, peperami and nuts/bars. When I finish, I will have a beer that I usually start to think about from around mile 2.
Why are you attempting the Stour Valley Way (personal goal, achievement)?
There's something special about a point A to point B run, I call it a 'journey run', it looks great on a map (Strava) and what could be better than following a river from one end to the other? COVID has put a stop to most racesso FKTs are the flavour of 2020, it's my time to jump on the bandwagon!
What do you have planned next?
October, I have a 50k race with my dog - it is currently still going ahead - and there are a few other local long-distance paths in Dorset on my radar and to set FKTs. Fingers crossed later in Oct for the next FKT.