Tell us more about yourself Huw, how and when you started to fall in love with ultra running and with sport in general?
Myself and a good friend Raymond Cassidy set up the local running club around 7 years ago now after a chat and a pint…that’s how all good adventures start right? I’d been sailing around the shores of my home the Llyn Peninsula for years and you can’t help but love its coastline with its colours, ruggedness and isolation, mixing that with the incredible Coastal path to train on it became crystal clear when supporting local runner Gordon Hughes on the Ring o Fire Ultra that the Llyn Peninsula ticked all the boxes to become a Ultra Runners Playground. My first Marathon was the Eryri Marathon and I’ve concentrated on Ultras and fell running ever since.
The Marathon Des Sables in 2017 is where it all changed and the only time I think I’ve had my mind bent, surrounded by likeminded people, the vast openness and competing with all levels was something I’ll never forget.
But … and here’s the big BUT! There’s no slow motion running and Hollywood music it’s all about the banter, the wind ups and laughter at tent life and that’s the bit I really enjoy. The Ultra and Trail scene is a magnificent family simply because we’ve all shared so many happy race memories as well as a few ‘This is Bullshit’ moments! I love it I really do.
What were the toughest races you’ve ever been?
The Snowdon International Race 2019. I simply could not get air into my lungs, my bodie’s temperature was through the roof and I was exhausted on arrival of the first Checkpoint. Finished the race 10 minutes slower than the previous year. Turns out it was due to Neuroendocrine Cancer Tumors and a Severe Leaky Heart Valve which I was diagnosed with in October. So due to those circumstances I’m pretty happy with my time.
We can imagine that ultra running means difficult moments during the races. How you manage to overpass them?
Distraction. Do anything. Count the stars, eat, word games, sing, think of favourite films, remember why you’re doing it, visualize the finish line with you running past it, laugh out loud, make motorcycle noises and think about the cake. It’s a choice I’ve made to sign up not the other way around which seems to trick my mind most of the time.
From all the endurance experiences you’ve had so far, what do you feel about multi stage self-supported races? What’s making it so special, compared with other ultra races?
Camp life without a doubt! It’s an opportunity to share what you’ve all experienced on a day to day basis. It helps fill up your focus and bravado as well as keeping your inner momentum going and anxiety at bay….oh and the views!!!!
If you are to chose between 200 miles multi-stage and 200 miles non-stop what’s gonna be?
For me now and even when I’m back to fitness neither! Both have so much to offer and I’ve a soft spot for multi-stage … so never say never right?
What’s the mileage you think is necessary to put into preparing an ultra race?
This is where it’s changing and it’s become even more apparent since hosting my At the Checkpoint’ Podcast.
It’s about Hours and Activity and not the focus on the Miles. Check out elite athletes Petter Restorp and Seb Batchelor on the Podcast talking about how they train. Both averaging only 10/12 hours a week. They both also mix up there training with skiing, cycling and other activities. Read books by the best and I’d certainly recommend getting a coach and treat yourself to a sports massage each month.
Have you had a moment during a race when you were about to quit? What was your motivation to continue?
I’ve DNFd before due to illness. All other races I’ve just cracked on. It’s very much how you set up your mind. My Doctor has said my tumors have been with me for over 10 years which means that my entire running career I’ve possibly been more fatigued, hitting the walls harder and recovering slower than everyone. I have seen that as my normal though and that’s all due to your inner dialogue content and character.
At some point you’ve switched the trails with being the organizer of Pen Llyn Ultras, Pilgrims, Ultra Trail Wales. What do you find more difficult? Running or being the one that take care of fulfilling other people’s dreams? 😊
I think if you change the word ‘Difficult’ to ‘fun’ I love all the races and it’s incredible and humbling to have people to sign up.
What do you think about Ultra Race Romania? What sets this race apart from others?
I’m extremely excited to see it. Romania has so much to offer the endurance tourist and the team at Ultra Race Romania are runners and that for me is a big tick in the box as they’ll make sure it’s nice and easy right? 😉
Ultra Races organized by locals in there homeland is a fantastic way to spotlight the country and I’m really looking forward to coming out and reporting on the race with my At the Checkpoint Podcast hat on.
Good luck 🎉🎉🎉🎉