Last updated: 08-Oct-17
We spend a lot of time on the RunUltra team on race reviews and following the big races live, either in person or on the tracker. We are also always out there chatting on Twitter and finding out who is up to what. As a result, we thought it would be interesting to do a regular roundup of who is up and who is coming in the ultra world.
Tom Evans. Photo credit: Marathon des Sables 2017.
Tom Evans leapt into our consciousness by coming third in this year’s Marathon des Sables, cracking the usual Moroccan dominance of all the places on that particular podium. He seemed to come from nowhere to victory. His performance on the infamous long day, over 80 kilometres, was particularly noteworthy and he smashed it to come in second after the champion, Rachid El Morabity.
Just a few short months later, he went on to blast the mountains, coming in fourth at this year’s CCC at UTMB in 10:57:44. Chapeau! That is a fantastic accomplishment and when you discover that Evans only did his first ultra in November 2016 (of course he won), it is both staggering and ever-so-slightly annoying. How can he get this good this fast?
He is a Captain serving in the Welsh Guards and is in his mid-twenties. He ran at school and competed in the National Schools Athletics Competition, so obviously showed early promise. But it is the army he credits with his ability to succeed:
“I think the training that I have received from the army has been fantastic. Not just physically but also mentally. Racing in ultras requires lots of discipline, determination and being positive when things seem bad. Also, through my military training I have developed my robustness and ability to administrate myself, preparing for the next day of racing.”
For a full interview click here.
Tom Owens. Photo credit: Maria Vamassol.
Right behind Tom Evans at CCC, was Tom Owens, who took fifth place, proving once again his abilities in the mountains. It is a bit of a stretch to call Owens an “up and comer” since he has been racing at the top level for years. He was taken on as a Salomon Adventure Racer in 2008. A Glaswegian, who runs with his local club the Shettleston Harriers, he is a demon for the hills and mountain races at all distances with Skyrunning as one of his passions.
After the recent Salomon Pirineu Marathon, where Owens came in eighth, he told the Glasgow Herald, “I think one of the things I really enjoy about this sport is pushing myself to the absolute limit – it’s nice to really test yourself both physically and mentally. It was pretty nerve-wracking out there because I knew I was being chased the whole way and so I was conscious that if I slipped up even once, I’d lose a few positions. So, it’s about just staying calm when you’re in that situation although that’s easier said than done. The more hill and trail running I do, the better I get at that and it helps not only with this sport but it helps you in every day life I think.”
Follow his progress on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Photo credit: Anna-Marie Watson.
A quick look at Anna-Marie’s results for the last couple of years will either inspire you or send you whimpering to the couch for a reviving re-watch of Summits of My Life. This is what 2017 looks like so far:
- DBMax Duathlon Series, Castle Coombe (February) – 1st lady, 36th overall (50:08.9) & 2016/2017 series Ladies Champion;
- Malta Half Marathon (March) – 4th lady (1:26:22);
- XNRG Devil’s Challenge South Downs Multi-day 150km Ultra (April/May) – 1st overall (14:27:36);
- Gran Trail Courmayeur 105km Ultra (July) – 1st lady, 10th overall (20:17:34);
- Ultra Tour de Mont Blanc 170km Ultra (September) – 7th lady, 5th Brit, 93rd overall (28:32:16).
This is an awesome list in anyone’s book but what makes it doubly impressive is the range of distances and types of races that she goes for. Definitely an all-rounder, she is also an accomplished ironman and triathlete, oh yes and an adventure racer as well.
Anna-Marie grew up in Gosforth in the North of England where she told ChronicleLive she was totally uninterested in sport at school, “I was so un-sporty at school, my PE reports were terrible. I was rubbish at all the sports and used to schedule piano classes at the same time so I didn’t have to do them.”
After leaving university, Anna-Marie served in the military for nine years where she worked in the Royal Logistics Corps. She saw two operations in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. But it was when she left the RLC and moved to Abu Dhabi, and then Sydney, that her sporting career really took off. She started competing in long-distance triathlon and in 2013 she won 1st female in the Bigman triathlon in Prague.
Two years later, she was taking second place on the women’s podium at Marathon des Sables. Now, she runs RFM Coaching and continues to compete at the highest level.
This level of achievement comes at a cost though, as she explained in her post-UTMB blog,
“A week on, I feel as if I can now let you in on a little secret. Behind my smiles captured at various stages around the course, I can now tell you if you hadn’t guessed it already: IT HURT. Both physically and mentally. In the subsequent days after finishing, a mental fog descended; I felt like an outsider observing the world peering through a slightly drunken haze. Following a conversation was exhausting, loud noises were like an assault on my senses and my legs seem to have been filled with lead and refused to move.”