Q&A Rob Young – MarathonManUK no.2

Last updated: 06-Nov-18

By Luke Jarmey

Thanks for doing another Q&A with us Rob and congratulations on all these achievements. To put it mildly, you’re quite the extreme endurance collector now. In particular, your World Record of 370 marathons in a year!

For a general introduction to Rob and his 370 Marathons in a year challenge, please read our first Q&A with him.

Q. So first off, talk to us about finishing the 370 Marathons. What race did you finish with?

A. I finished with the London Marathon. Basically it was a very hectic time. Coming up to the 370 mark I was in Atlanta in America, running in the Race Across USA marathon series. I did two back-to-back marathons there (my 368th and 369th) before getting straight on a plane back to London for the marathon.

In the UK, a motorbike picked me up at Heathrow and took me off to the Excel for some pre-race interviews etc. It was the day before the marathon and I spent that day saying hello to everyone at the Excel, speaking about my running history so far etc.

The next day was the London Marathon. I had to run it very quickly in order to catch my plane back to the US for the rest of the series I was running over there. It was all tight margins and I had a motorbike waiting at the finish to whisk me off to Heathrow as soon as I was done. I threw in a quick pace and stopped for a good 20 minutes in the middle of the race to do some interviews and say hello to some friends who had come down to the race to see me. It was a manic couple of days, but I reached 370. It was a big moment and the end of an amazing year for me.

Q. Was there a particular marathon that stood out for you, due to its difficulty, atmosphere, unforeseen circumstances etc.?

A. Almost every marathon that I ran that year was very special. I had some ups and downs. I had some really bad ones that were painful, and I had some really good ones. One that stands out right now, which I really enjoyed, was the Coniston Marathon. I thought that was a phenomenal event, a beautiful course in the Lake District and as a whole it was fantastic. I went on and did the North Downs 100, which was also another great race. That was a 100-mile race and took in some amazing scenery.

The Lakes in a Day was very hard, and I remember that too. I fell a couple of times that day, got lost and as soon as I’d finished I had to get to another event very quickly. That was tough but I managed. There were so many great events that it’s hard to pick just one out as the best, but those are a few of the highlights.

Q. How did you feel both physically and mentally on completion? Do 370 marathons catch up with you when you reach the end point!?

A. Everyone has the ability to run a marathon a day every single day, I think. It takes about 3 weeks for the body to get fit enough for it and then another week for you to have the mental capacity to endure running a marathon a day. After that you’re unbeatable. The injuries are a challenge and you need a bit of luck to get through all that trauma on the body over such a long period of time. If you are lucky enough to get to 370, then a marathon a day, by that stage is no different from doing a 5km. It becomes normal and you are adapted to it.

Q. In our previous interview, you mentioned you were taking part in the Race Across the USA. You finished the race at the start of June in 1st place and became the first European ever to win. Well done! What was your overall time and how close was your nearest competitor?

A. The Race Across the USA was a phenomenal race, absolutely stunning. Going through each state was like going through a different country. It was amazing. I was very lucky to finish in around 452 hours. The nearest competitors were just over 30h behind me, and they were absolutely fantastic athletes. So I was pretty pleased to have been quicker than them. Again there were good days and bad days but what an opportunity. I’d like to go back and run over there again some time; maybe next year even.

Q. Were you leading for the entire race? If not, was there a certain turning point?

A. To be honest with you, I went off hard and fast to really put the scarers on the field. I thought if they saw me flying away then they would get dispirited and not compete so hard. They’d give up and assume I was too good. As the races continued other runners starting winning stages but by then I think I was too far in front overall. There were runners in that field who could run quicker on a given day than me, but when it comes to back-to-back marathons over long periods, I’m pretty tough to live with.

Q. What is the race support like for this? Do the organisers handle logistics or is that left up to you and your personal team?

A. On a race like RAUSA it is very hard to get everything perfect. There were ups and downs throughout the entire race. There was not enough support, I don’t think. The aid stations and the crews that were there did all they could and they were absolutely fantastic. But I think we could have done with more crew, and some better places to sleep. Basically a few small but key adjustments. I hope they listen to the feedback and make some changes because it is already an amazing event and could be even better with a bit of tweaking.

Q. Talk to us about some of the environments you ran through. I read you ran through snowstorms and searing desert heat.

A. Some of the environments we ran through were really tough, yes. We covered a lot of land in a lot of states so there was a huge variety of terrain to face. We ran over hills, flats, deserts, through roads, through towns as well as places where there was absolutely nothing at all. I remember one day running in 38 degrees Celsius heat, with humidity at about 90% (which took the heat to the equivalent of about 42 degrees). We also had the heat radiation off the tarmac that was affecting us as well. It was hard just to breathe at times.

Then there was the cold. That was really extreme. We were hit by a snowstorm at one stage and we had ice dangling from our cheeks, noses and eyebrows. On those days I started to miss the English weather where it’s never too hot. It’s not often I can say that.

Q. So one of your more recent endeavours has been to run 373 miles in one go. How did you come up with this crackpot, but brilliant, idea?

A.I was looking at Dean Karnazes’s record. I looked at all the records of those people who claimed to have run the longest distance in the history without sleep. There was some dispute whether Kurous or Dean Karnazes had the record. It turned out to be Dean Karnazes who ran 350 miles in one go. I thought I’d have a crack at that. I was used to sleep deprivation after my year’s marathon running, during which I only managed about 3 hours sleep a night. I also had the endurance from running as far as 110miles in a single day, so I thought I might manage to break that one. It was a good challenge. I enjoyed it and it was something different. I was very lucky that I managed to break that record, I think.

Q. Fantastic achievement and beating the distance set by Dean Karnazes must have felt good. Has he contacted you at all about this? How many other people have broken the distance or are you the first?

A. Yes, he has contacted me about it and obviously has said through Internet, twitter and Facebook that he has given the record over to me. He said he is going to try and break it again himself down the line, which you have to respect, especially given his age now. We will see if that happens. He is a great guy, a great man, and he was very pleasant to me about my breaking his record. I know there had been many attempts out there to go further but I was lucky enough to be the first to do, and at my first attempt too.

Q. I read that you started to experience a minor heart problem at 373 miles with associated body numbness and a rocketing temperature. Did this come on suddenly or had you been gradually feeling this for a while? And was this due to any underlying condition or simply the extreme nature of what you were doing?

A. At mile 370 my legs went, then my shoulders, my lower back, my upper back, my arms and after that the muscles in my neck started hurting. About the same time I was starting to hallucinate, seeing circus seals in the middle of the road and other things that weren’t actually there. It was pretty weird. Then I got headaches, then my face started going numb and then one side of my face started tingling. I was expecting to pass out after that. I thought well, passing out will be the next thing, but it didn’t happen. When I got to 373.75 miles it was like – bang! All of a sudden my face felt like it was on fire, my chest felt tight, my throat felt like it was closing up. I called an ambulance to check me out. They said it looked like a mild heart attack but it wasn’t. Total exhaustion exhibits very similar symptoms. The blood results showed that. I just needed to go and get some sleep and eat and drink something!

Q. If you were to repeat this challenge, do you think it’s possible for you to go further? If so, how would you prepare differently?

A. Running 373 miles in one go is very difficult. Would I want to do it again? Probably not. Will I do it again? Probably. The reason I say that is because I think I could go further. I messed around a fair bit in the race and didn’t have proper food organised for the whole run. I think with a few changes I could maybe run 400 miles. Not much further than that though. It’s a long way to run without any rest.

Q. Finally what’s next on the agenda for you, Rob?

A. That’s a hard question. We have a few ideas. I have got so many records that I would like to do. I want to represent Great Britain on the endurance team. Getting the British vest would be a real honour. Breaking the TransCon record from LA to New York, which has not been broken since the 1980s is another possibility. I am an Ambassador for Dreams Come True, so it is important for me that I raise as much money as I can for them from my challenges. Also getting my time down at the London Marathon is a challenge in itself.

I think right now I need some rest time and to look at my options. I have put in place a professional management team, and hopefully we will see some brands coming to support me. Then I’ll be back and doing something that gets the public excited. I love to inspire people to exercise and for them to see we have so much we can do if we put our minds to it. If you have any suggestions for an endurance event please let me know. I’m up for almost anything.

MarathonManUK, Rob Young has been raising money for children’s charity Dreams Come True during his challenges and is now an official ambassador for the charity. You can find out more by visiting www.dreamscometrue.uk.com.

Photo credit: Dirty Green Trainers.

Twitter @MarathonMan_UK

Want to read more stories of derring do? Check these out:
The ÖtillÖ Swimrun
The 6633 Ultra by Gavan Henningan

"I was starting to hallucinate, seeing circus seals in the middle of the road and other things that weren’t actually there"

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