I ran competitively as a teenager before finding ALL the things that are not good for you at University. That running sabbatical lasted about 15 years, when bothered by my inability to keep my waist inside my trousers I decided to hit the gym. A fell runner work colleague persuaded me to join him on his lunchtime runs around Newcastle Rising Sun Country Park and I was hooked...again. As I was working in Newcastle at the time I ran a lot of local races to that area and must have ended up at the "not too bad" end of the spectrum getting an invite to the infamous Blaydon Races after a half decent run there the year before. That said, I couldn't take them up on the offer as I had yet another bout of injury, my early "adult running career" blighted by injury after injury, many training and racing mistakes were made. There were some half decent times posted in those days, and I won a few local races, but always felt I never got the best out of me due to layoffs and injury rehabs.
I was always more comfortable, and some would say better, on the roads, but my passion was off road, in particular the Scottish hills and mountains and would enjoy long Sunday runs in the Pentlands, just outside Edinburgh. Ultra running was never on my radar, my thought was that it was for slow runners. Then a friend asked me to crew for him in the West Highland Way Race, a 95 mile off road race from Glasgow to Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. I witnessed Paul Giblin smash the course record that year and my mind was changed instantly. That year I entered my first ultra, Glen Ogle 33, and won it in a new course record. In 2016 the Scottish selection team took a punt on me for the annual Anglo Celtic Plate 100km and it turned out a decent punt as I finished 3rd overall and won the Scottish Championships. I missed the following year due to injury but came back to the ACP in 2018 in the Scottish team where I had another battle with Anthony Clark to win the British 100km championship and helping Scotland win the Anglo Celtic Plate. That same year I raced in Comrades, the IAU World Championships as part of the UKA Team and then an invitational 50k race in China. More recently, I've ran in the ACP for Scotland in 2019, setting my current 100km PB and only just before lockdown I got the pleasure of getting totally outside of my comfort zome and running TransGranCanaria Advance Race in March: A very tough race, but a wonderful experience.
I'm 47, married father of 2 young girls and a freelance data engineer. It's a busy life, but I have fabulous support from my wife and daughters. I'm also part of the Pyllon Racing Team, a group of fantastic human beings, who share the same values and outlooks. As well as a racing team, together we've completed two relay adventures, that we've called Endeavours: A double West Highland Way in November 2018, 192 miles in 24 hours, where we just missed out on breaking 24 hours. And only this year, Endeavour 2, a 586 mile relay called the Scottish National Trail from Cape Wrath in the very north weest of Scotland to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. As a team of 8 running as a relay in some of Scotlands most remote areas we completed the route in 102 hours. Both events have raised 10s of thousands of pounds for charity and I am very proud to have been part of both teams.
What are your personal bests?
What have you been doing during lockdown?
I've been very lucky to have been able to work from home for the entire duration and work has been super busy. I did want to have the time to pick up a new skill or hobby but with a young family, home schooling and the restrictions that were in place, it was just not going to happen. I did buy a treadmill at the very outset of the Pandemic so that I could continue to train while staying within the rules.
Did COVID-19 affect many events / training?
I was lucky to get to race TransGranCanaria at the very beginning of March, very soon afterwards we went into lockdown. The only other event I had planned for the first 6 months of the year was the West Highland Way race, which was cancelled. I was also hoping to make the GB 100km team again as there was a World Championships scheduled for September but that was also been cancelled. Training was affected when we could only go out once a day and so the treadmill really did help as I would use that time to get outside with the kids. I still managed to get those long runs in and training wasn't really affected that much. The training intensity hasn't been the same as usual, my coach, Paul Giblin, has focused on endurance and strength endurance without tiring me out during the lockdown phase.
How did you cope with training during Lockdown?
I missed the gym at my work. I would be in the office 3-4 times a week and each lunchtime I would go to the gym for a S&C or mobility sessions and I really missed those. It felt like I had less time for those types of additional sessions working from home. I always made sure that I got my run sessions in, either outside or on the treadmill, that was really important to me. We all need some time to ourselves and being indoors, 24 hours a day, with the same people (as much as I love my family) can be a challenge and that hour or so of running was my time to clear my head and zone out, even if it was on the treadmill.
How have you found being an ambassador for XMiles?
It has been fun, I know Anthony personally, we've had a few battles at the British 100km championships over the last few years and we were both part of the 2018 GB 100km team. I was thrilled to be part of the XMiles ambassador's team, Anthony has a passion for what he does, and I love the products that are sold at XMiles. I hope I've sent some business to XMiles over the last few years and our relationship continues.
What do you have planned for the future?
Many ultra-runners have set personal challenges during lockdown, particularly now that travel restrictions are all but gone and I have a small personal challenge coming up soon that will see me run from my current Home town on the East coast of Scotland to my first home that I remember as a child. It's not a big distance, less than 50 miles, but I am attempting to join many paths and old drove and trade roads to form a route that is mostly off road. It will take in some of the trails I run around my current home, cross the Pentalnd Hills, and then take in some of the trails and old roads around my childhood home. It's just something for me and I haven't been promoting it at all, my drive is purely internal.
About the Author
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