2017 has been a super busy year! In the early months of the cold winter I hung up my bike racing wheels and swapped them for a pair of trail shoes and haven't looked back. I spent the winter building up my running form and endurance on Dartmoor, with a few trips to North Wales. I rediscovered running when I took up triathlon a couple of years ago, and realising my strength in the discipline had decided to give some of the Ultra and Sky races a good go in the UK. I'm attracted to the challenges that racing in the mountains bring. The skills you need and the mental and physical effort it takes to compete in these locations really set the sport apart from anything else I've done. In short I'm hooked and have fully immersed myself in this world.
Along side my racing and training I've been working in the outdoors, starting out in my instructing career this February at the activity centre in Okehampton. I also helped out on some running events with Climb South West including the Welsh 3000's, Jurassic 100 and the Dartmoor in a Day (north-south crossing). I've really found a job that is a pleasure to turn up for in the mornings and love being outside all day and sharing and providing new experiences for others.
This years races kicked off with some local trail events down in Devon. A 2nd place in the Hamel Down Hammer, 1st in the Pure Trails Race the Tide 50km and a top 10 in the Redbull Steeple Chase on Exmoor.
My first outing in the Mountains would be the V3k, all of the Welsh 3000's starting in Nant Gwynant and finishing near Bangor. A 56km epic though Snowdonia. I finished 12th in my first experience on this terrain after getting rather excited at the start and having a tough ride towards the end of the race. I also needed to work on running downhill on technical terrain.
Following the V3k I entered the Scafell Sky Race. In it's debut year it proved to be my breakthrough race, I discovered how to race hard in the mountains, use the gradient to my advantage and finish strong. The race in the Lakes has to be my highlight of the UK Sky races this year, not only because I had my highest placing, 2nd, but also because the race itself was a battle from start to finish. Myself and Laurence Eccles ended up a mere 20 seconds apart after over 5 hours of racing. We chopped and changed positions all day. That physical and mental battle with your rivals and the terrain is what makes SkyRunning so thrilling.
This years mountain racing finished in Scotland at the Salomon Ring Of Steall. A classic route and a race weekend full of atmosphere. The races were brimming with talented runners and it was a truly amazing experience to race against these wold class runners. I need races like this that push me to my limit to discover how good I need to be, what skills and fitness attributes I need to work on to make myself a better athlete.
I have had such a great year of running and It was a pleasure to finish the racing with some short sharp local trail and cross-country races in Devon. I've had great support this year from everyone around me, Mountain Fuel for keeping me fuelled in races and some support from Salomon to help with kit. Next year I have some exciting plans coming together and a huge opportunity to work with the iconic British company Montane. Keep an eye on my blog and website for race and training news.