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Fetcheveryone Member of the Month

Our way of acknowledging the contributions and achievements of the Fetch community. Thanks to our sponsor Fitbit, our October winner will receive a Fitbit Charge 3.

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Interview with _andy

santababy asks: Hello!huge well done Andy- so very well deserved. How the heck have you managed to get from a good hill runner to become a racing Ultra snake? cant just be down to losing a few pounds? Which race would you do if money/15kids/job etc weren't in way? Please dont let me ever see the Perth Ultra sad face again ok? :)

_andy says: Hiya Santa-cornerstoneofFetch-baby! And thanks! In reverse order, the Perth 100k race at the end of March this year was a *bad* one for me, and showed me that flat, tarmac, laps are not my cup of tea. It's quite a long way to run when you're in an unhappy place in your head and your legs have stopped working like they're meant to. But I still learnt a lot, including how to keep going when things are feeling really bad. Try anything once, eh? (well, not anything, there are good reasons for laws and ethics). As for doing any race, I'm going to sit on the fence there, since I'm not sure (that means it's a good question and will have me thinking for while). Maybe the UTMB (but only in decent weather, thanks), provided there was a massive Scottish contingent heading out, since I've learnt that people make a huge difference to a race experience, as well as a whole load of other things. And finally, or firstly, depending on how you look at things, how does a so-so hill runner end up doing alright in the world of ultras? Beats me. When I find out, I'll let you know and make you promise to keep it secret (so you can become rich and famous too) until we're too old to care anymore.
SpicedApple asks: Yay! Huge congrats, Andy - very well deserved indeed. I actually had a pretty good question I wanted to ask you when the MOTM interview came up - but can't remember it now... So, instead: how would you relate your passion of running in the hills to someone who had no interest in getting out of the city and trying it for themselves?

_andy says: Yay too! And thanks spicedfruit! That would have been such a good question if only you had remembered it - and I'd have had a witty and lucid response too. Never mind. Instead... I'll plagiarise my answer (from George Mallory maybe?) - "if you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer". That's a bit blunt, but it's kind of true. You have to experience this sort of thing to really appreciate it and even then you might end up preferring tarmac, pavements, fumes and dog-poo for your runs. Which is just as well, since I quite like running up and down hills without having to queue when it's too busy. For me, the freedom of being able to travel fast over big hills is a true luxury - the sense of freedom has to be felt to be believed. For anyone that doesn't get this, go and take a step into the unknown and see what you've been missing (usual disclaimer about safety on the hills, kids - be safe out there)
mushroom asks: Well done on MOTM. How often do you stop and enjoy the scenery when you're out running - and do you have a favorite vista that puts a smile on your face whenever you see it?

_andy says: Thanks Fun-guy! Ah, to stop and smell the flowers... it depends whether it's a race or a training run of course. In a race, I'll try not to stop at all, not even for drop-bags in an ultra if at all possible. But I have paused for the odd photo - on the odd occasion. During a training run, it's different, and stopping, especially on the tops of hills, is to be encouraged - it's what we do it for after all. For best views, Scotland is full of them, and I've been lucky enough to catch a fair few Remember-This-Forever vistas. Perhaps one from the Highland Fling Race that stick in the mind are heading over the top of Conic Hill, about 19 miles into the race, with the whole of Loch Lomond laid out below you - a massive view to the distant mountains in the North, where your footsteps will take you over the next few hours. If you want to know what I'm on about have a look a few of these pictures of the views from that race - they look as stunning in real life too - zen31010.zen.co.uk
The Terminator asks: Congratulations Andy, have one on me, what are you drinking a. before race, b. during race and c. after race?

_andy says: Cheers Mr T! Don't mind if I do. Beforehand is probably a bottle of water with a High5 powder stuff in it - I pretend that it's topping up valuable fuel reserves that will help me during the race. Placebo, anyone? That's assuming you're asking about daft races as opposed to a 5k, for which I'll just gave run-of-the-mill answer. During a race, I'll start with more of the same, but then switch to High5 Zero tablets in the water, maybe with a banana flavoured bottle of milk if it's been on offer at the supermarket, and the ultra-runners favourite of flat coke later on. I do find that beyond 30 miles my body just wants water, so have to remember to have plenty of that. And afterwards, there's a special kind of natural sports drink that is highly recommended; it's called beer. Running 40 or 50 miles always makes a pint taste so much better. Who's round is it next?
flip asks: Will you ever finish them last couple of munros or just leave them? When are you coming down to do Hardmoors 110. Does the sun always shine in Dollar? Assuming i run , guess what my time be for this years whw ? ..wll done as well btw . :-)

_andy says: Munros - yeah one day (*remembers to wave at Flip*) I'll go off to Skye for my final coupe of days to tick off all the Munros, having climbed the other 280 (oh, then 279, or is it 278 now? - they keep changing) before the family arrived to distract me from yomping up mountains. It's a bit of the wonderful saying (I'll credit it to Tibetan monks, but it could by an old Chinese saying, or from Mark Twain for all I know), "it's the journey that matters". Or to translate: when I was younger I'd read about crazy people who would spend years climbing all the Munros (oh, that's Scottish mountains above 3,000ft if any readers didn't know) and then (gasp) would not quite finish the job. Weird! Crazy! But having got to that point almost a decade ago, I suddenly understood. I'll maybe just keep one for my 50th birthday and then invite everyone I know along for a huge party and to wander up one hill (it'll be Blaven by the way). Hardmoors 110 sounds like a hoot, although the last time I did it, it took me 8 days with a big rucksack. Will have to be sneaky and mix it in with visiting the in-laws in Yorkshire before saying I'm just out for a run...

I'm no weather forecaster, but it's usually warm and sunny with a light cooling breeze. Your time for the whw, since you will run and you will finish, is going to be 32 hours and 32 minutes. You'll be annoyed it wasn't faster, but will like the symmetry of the numbers (umm, I think my crystal ball needs some new batteries). Thanks btw ;-)
Lintie asks: Hello buddy. Oh this is hard to pick questions for you but i feel i should. Ok i've never seen you run with headphones in. Do you ever run listening to music? Within our Scottish ultra family which of the speedy ones inspires you the most? And what is your top 3 things in the whole wide world you would put into Room 101.

_andy says: Hiya Lintie! (Hey everyone - she's the awesome one who is responsible in drawing me over to the dark side of ultramarathons). So I say let's take your three questions and let's hope that Lord Fetch isn't counting. I've never run with music since I've just never felt the need. I wouldn't like the idea of being cocooned in a wee bubble and would rather experience the world as it is without a soundtrack to go along with it (something about associative thinking according to the experts). Having said that, I did listen to one tune whilst plummeting down from Harrison Stickle to the Old Dungeon Gill Hotel last April (Clouds by Newton Faulkner - go have a listen to it, it's great) and that makes for strong memories, so maybe I'm missing out on something after all.

The Scottish Ultra family is pretty inspirational - a really close-knit community that supports one another and is hugely positive - we're really spoilt up here (to make up for the weather maybe). There's lots of folk to be inspired by - your good self included - and it would be a very tough call to start naming names from the "speedy ones" - idealistically, I would pick someone who has worked hard to get from where they were to now being one of the best, and the man of the moment is Donnie Campbell (current 100k champion and UltraTrail Champion for Scottish Athletics). He's made amazing progress recently, and was a 17 stone bloke just a few years ago - I find that pretty inspirational.

Room 101 is a busy old place and I'll go for Abuse Of Power, Wind "Farms", and Ignorance for an instant choice of three. Hopefully that'll cover world peace, poverty and religious wars too if you're generous with your interpretation.
PentlandPounder asks: Well deserved. I like the fact you always wait at the end to cheer on us lesser mortals.

What do I have to do to beat you in a race?

What do I have to do to finish less than about an hour behind you.
OK, the above 2 will never ever happen, but seriously, whats the one training thing you'd say makes the biggest difference to your performaance.

And why is your picture a man jumping into a blue circle. As santababys blog about a donut shop says 'I JUST DON'T GET IT'


_andy says: Thank you Mr Pounder! I'd like to say that I'm inspired by Scott Jurek who would win races and then wait around to see every finish - the you take the harder it is, really. And I am inspired by what he's done, but if I hang around at the end it's because I just like to chat to everyone. Can't help with the idea of you beating me without giving away state secrets or risking being poisoned by you, but if I fine my shoe laces have been tied together at the start of a race, I'll know who to come looking for once I can move again. To finish within an hour is easy - just pick a race that lasts no longer than, say, an hour and it'll work out. Onwards - training thing... maybe it's that you have to enjoy what you're doing. I've never stuck to a training schedule, since my life is full of that sort of thing for work and family, but I do run at every opportunity I can find. The advantage with being used to running long distances is that I can happily fill an hour or four if there's ever space in the schedule, often fitted around being a Dad-taxi service to the children.

Serious bit now - the wee man leaping into a blue circle has a pretty deep explanation. For the uninitiated, it's a picture from the awesomely cool "Portal" - if you google it, you'll find zillions of similar images - it's a computer game with amazing humour and clever puzzles with good physics to solve - en.wikipedia.org . If that's your sort of thing, you've either heard of it or you've been seriously missing out and should get a copy (for the other 99% of readers, just roll your eyes and go for another run). It was introduced to me by a good friend Chris some years ago (2007) - he wrote that sort of thing and always had a great sense of fun. At the start of 2009 he got a bit of a cold/virus one week and at the weekend even went into hospital. He was 34 years old and never made it through the night. Sorry, I said it was pretty serious. I'll not dwell on it any more here but wrote my first Fetch blogs about it, so if you can (or can't) cope with a massive bit of emotion, it's here: http://www.fetcheveryone.com/blog-view.php?id=13514&y=2009&m=2 So the wee man stays as a daily reminder of what can happen in our lives and so that I don't forget.
Duchess asks: Hello my lovely "normal runner", very nice to see you here. Have you accepted yet that you might actually be not too bad at this running stuff? And if so, when? Where's your favourite running route; race or otherwise? And can you convince me to like the snow?

_andy says: Hello your ladyship! It's amazing who you come across in this place. "Not too bad" is about right to be honest - I just find it funny that someone like me, who shouldn't be able run fast ultras is able to do "alright" at them. Seriously, the vital statistics of 20% body-fat and 13 and a half stone mean that I shouldn't be able to compete in races, but somehow it's not worked out like that. What is it, luck, genetics, stubbornness, good training? As for the when bit of the question, I'd like to have one really serious year, where I get a bit obsessed with running as well as possible, get close to 12 stone in weight - if you see me like at some point you'll know I'm going for it properly. Fave route is probably the bottom half of the West Highland Way - aka the Highland Fling race. That's for a bunch of reasons: it was where I first ran 30, then 40 miles for a training run, and the Fling was the race that got me into the most excellent game of ultramarathons. And the route is beautiful, varied and interesting, plus the people involved in the race are brilliant. As for snow... hang on, how many questions is this...?
shanksi asks: Well done, _andy. Thoroughly deserved MOTM. How was the Islands Peaks Race (or whatever it's called)? Were you seasick?

_andy says: Thank you, thank you mr_s. So what's this you wonder, dear reader? It's the Scottish Islands Peaks Race, held in May each year and it's pretty bonkers as far as crazy races go. Just my cup of tea then. It involves a team of 3 sailors and 2 hill runners, with 160 miles of sailing and 60 miles of running, mostly up stupidly steep hills, with lots of boggy and dangerously rocky bits. Ok, that's got everyone introduced, so I'll answer the question. The race was truly awesome and lived up to expectations with all sorts of weather, from gales on top of mountains on Jura (oh, and driving rain, plus fog), to glorious sunshine for the initial spread-out-the-field at the start in Oban, to atmospheric clouds and sunset on the first night at 3,000ft on Mull. The race takes about 2 days if you're lucky, maybe three or four if the wind died and you haven't got a real life to rush back to. Alas, our race suffered from a lack of wind on day 3 and after half a day of bobbing about in the Atlantic, we decided to fire up the engine and pootle home, missing out a final mountain marathon on Arran. Still a great race experience, although I was gutted that it clashed with the stupendously good Cateran Trail 55 mile race/weekend party. Oh and I wasn't seasick, although I did have one patch after eating lots during Force 8 winds - it's a nifty combination if you ever get a chance to try it.
IanS asks: Congratulations _andy, well deserved and well overdue :-) What races do you have on your bucket list? I know you love your hills and ultras but do you ever wonder about doing a marathon just to tick that box?

_andy says: Thanks Ian! Bucket list - ooooh, where to begin? I'd love to have a shot at the UTMB someday, but the timings don't fit with work, so might have to wait until I retire for that one (seriously, I kid you not!) I still have a date with the West Highland Way Race, after one 'practice' I'd like to really nail it and have a perfect race experience, which includes a fast time. Not a race as such, but I'd love to complete the Bob Graham round in the Lake District, and while I'm at it, there are similar outings for the Ramsay and Buckley rounds which would be great to have a shot at. Oh, and the Lakeland 100 would be on the list too. As for races further afield, there are some classics 100s in America that any aspiring ultrarunner will have heard about, but I'm not sure which ones would be on the list. Yeah, I will run a marathon at some point, just to fit one in, since I know I *should* at some point, but I need to get my head around the discipline of long, consistent miles on tarmac for that PB - VLM at some point, just for the tick (and the crowds and sights)
HappyG(rrr) asks: Congratulations Andy, very well deserved and phew, I can stop nominating you every month now as Fetchland has finally given you your due recognition. Thanks for all your help, encouragement and time for all the hill run days, weekends and trips away on behalf of all who have benefited. And thanks for all your great tips and for inspiring many of us to consider hillier, longer, tougher runs and races. Now, a Q... hmmm... Winning or Taking Part? Discuss! :-)G

_andy says: Thanks HappyG, or :-)G as it is these days. Although I always quite liked the comic effect of when you were just plain Grrrr and folk took offense for no reason. Thanks for your inspirational support too - lots of folks appreciate that, me included. As for the question, that's easy-peasy; it really is the taking part that has to count. If you don't enjoy it, then what's the point? (aside from fame, money and chocolate). If you ever get lucky enough to win something, then it's because no-one faster happened to be there on that day (unless you're a World Record holder and no-one has beaten you yet)
Lee Wren asks: congratulations, as a winner of something and using your new superpowers can you tell me how many bananas i have for bait?

_andy says: Thank Lee, and thanks for an easy question, unlike all the previous tricky ones. You're right about the superpowers, so it's no trouble to tell you that you don't want to go using bananas around here - that sort of thing will get you some bad luck and funny looks from the natives. Your secret is safe with me btw.
Joopsy asks: You are definitely the biggest inspiration on this site for me Andy, a fellow father of four with full time job etc. How do you find the time to train for such monumental races? Oh and well done on this, I am really chuffed to see you win it.

_andy says: Aww, thanks Joopsy - and the same back atchya! Those runners with only three kids to fit their training around just have no idea how easy they have it. I guess the honest answer to this one is that I just wing it a lot and don't run half as many miles as I should do for competitive ultramarathons. But it goes to show - you don't have to be cramming in 80 miles a week to run an ultra - my average last year was closer to 30 miles. Somehow, lady luck lets me mix that with some long runs.

In fact, a lot of my miles for each year come from races, but that makes for some useful training. Last year I ran 8 ultras in 8 months, and I joked that the routine was taper, race, recover... and repeat. Thinking about it, that wasn't really a joke - it's pretty much what I did. For 2013, I decided to have an easier year, so only have 5 ultras in the calendar at the moment, but might squeeze one or two more in somewhere. So much for a quieter year.
Night-owl asks: Congrats _andy I don't think our paths have crossed but i gather you are a bit of an Ultra runner what made you get into them in the first place and what advice would you give a prospective newbie

_andy says: Thanks Night-Owl! You're right about the Ultra side of things. Before I found running, I spent a lot of years wandering over mountains, so the idea of journeying through wild places was always appealing. Doing the same thing while running is just a useful way of saving time, or squeezing two or three days of travelling into one. As for getting into them, it comes down to people - other wonderfully crazy folks on this excellent website, who made inspirational noises about running beyond 26 miles. And with a bit of encouragement, I went out and had a few very long training runs and then signed up for the Highland Fling, a 53 mile trail race. You get something from an ultra that a 10k or half-marathon just doesn't come close to. I've done over 20 now and loved all of them (except one, which involved 42 flat tarmac laps and no sense of journeying through wild places!)

My top bit of advice to anyone dreaming of trying an ultra, is to go for it (well, assuming you've run a marathon before, and are willing to tag on a few extra miles). But for the first one, be patient. Take your time, go slower than your body tells you is sensible and have your goal as trying to enjoy the experience, without any worry about what the clock might say. That way, you'll want to come back for more.
paul the builder asks: Congrats Andy. You clocked a 51+ min/mile split in a race recently. Are you *sure* you wouldn't rather be a road runner ;-)? Mor seriously - how do you face the faff that must be involved with all the gear you need to go training or racing in the hills? What to pack, how to pack it, stressing about forgetting something crucial?

_andy says: Thanks PtB - and congrats to you too! Yeah, there's not many races where a mile takes more than 51 minutes, and if you did that in a road race, someone would be asking some questions about whether you'd stopped for a meal or a couple of pints en-route. By way of explanation, *that* mile you refer to was on the Isle of Jura, climbing down boulders from the second of the paps (it's what they call the three main hills on Jura, and has an interesting translation), stopping to massage cramp, putting waterproof trousers on since it was a force 8 gale and really raining, and then climbing the third pap, taking a bearing from the summit since it was thick mist and then tortuously clambering down the unfeasibly steep wobbly boulders that the mountain is made up from. You just get that kind of challenge on tarmac, even after 23 miles of a marathon.

And the faff involved in some races - you're so right with that one mate! Training is ok, and I must be careful not to be blasé and take too little. But for a race, where there might be more than a dozen drop bags, plus a choice of two bumbags or rucksack, then whether to go for a bladder or water bottle. Plus what will I feel like eating when? It's a major stress sometimes, so I usually just take everything, delay getting into the car until late the night before and try to remember to pack a towel and a beer for after the race. It does make the running bit somewhat relaxing in a weird kind of way.
M1nty asks: The big man finally gets his due reward - fantastic. OK, here goes... What was your favourite ever race, and why? Are you leaving the world of ultra-running to take up sailing? What's it like competing with men just over half your body weight? Will you have another crack at the WHWR?

_andy says: Thanks M1nty, but steady on the big man - that was some years and three stone earlier. Actually, I'm a "bigger frame" than 95% of runners, so maybe I should accept that ;-)
Wow, favourite ever race? I guess it has to be some sort of balance with race experience, scenery, race outcome, people, memories... I think I mentioned it earlier, but it probably has to be the Highland Fling 53 mile trail race. Why? It ticks all the boxes in terms of what I just said and it's the race that got me started at running ultras. I've also done it four times in great (heatwave) conditions and had four good races. I've had better results - and almost plumped for the River Ayr Way last September, which just went perfectly for me (like, I felt good the whole way and was fortunate to win) but have to say that the mixture of wild trails, lochs and mountains are part of the Fling magic.
Cheeky - squeezing in extra questions! I'm not taking up sailing, but the aforementioned Scottish Islands Peaks Race appeals to my inner pirate, and sense of adventure. As for the lightwieghts, they'll get to the top of the hill before me each time, but I'll not get blow away in high winds. And yes, the West Highland Way Race is definitely on the schedule for the future - it just didn't fit for 2013 (something about four children and a full-time job).
stickland asks: Congratulations _andy what advice would you give to somebody toying with going longer / hillier?

_andy says: Thanks Stickland! My top advice, delivered with a zen-like contemplation would be "patience". Both in terms of not rushing into long ultra before trying shorter ones or having a big 40-mile training day out with no pressure. And especially on the day of a race - it's so important to know you could be running so much faster over the first half, but are controlling the speed so that you can still run (or walk) in the second half. Oh, and for hillier runs - just go for it! But do consider safety and carry enough kit so that if you break a leg you won't get hypothermia. Plenty of folk just feel they can't "do" hills which is just crazy talk - I'd say get yourself a map and compass and give it a shot. But I've spent most of my life climbing mountains, so am a wee bit biased.
Star asks: Congratulations Andy, one of my hill running husbands :-) So as I am still a newbie to hill running, what range would you recommend to someone who is finding their feet with navigating and therefore dont want to feel too lost but still get away from it all. And what is your favourite hill range/s to run.

_andy says: Thanks Star_x - and it was great heading out into the hills and showing you the trails on that Fetch outing. My local hills are in the Ochil Hills in Cental Scotland and they're great for getting out and about in - not too busy, and there's the option for shorter and longer runs if you want to. But not too many pubs unfortunately. For my favourite, I do love the Lake District, which feels very compact when compared to the Scottish Hills, and has loads of great pubs and tea-shops for the hungry/thirsty runer. I've recently got into reading the detail of Wainwright's books on the Lakeland Fells (but not while running) and this has helped to fire up a passion to go and explore a bit more.
JulesR asks: Words Association: WHW Checkpoint Stops - ................?

_andy says: WHW = adventure. Checkpoint = Food. Stops = what? Why would you want to stop, unless you've completed 95 miles and it's in the bag? Telling people that you're running a race that 95 miles always generates a whole bunch of interesting questions, like "do you run the whole way?" (no, but I try to), "do you sleep at any time?" (no, that just loses time) and "do you stop to eat?" (again, no, that's wasted time - it's possible to eat and run at once - for men that's impressive multi-tasking)
mrs shanksi asks: Congrats on MOTM _andy, very well deserved! Would you like to come up to Stonehaven and do our club half? It's very hilly ;-). Free swim in the outdoor pool afterwards! Thanks for being a great Fetchie and running chum, you are very inspiring and supportive x

_andy says: :-) and thanks Mrs_s! Yes, I'd love to get out there and run every race in Scotland - not sure I can blag a three hour drive away from the family for a half-marathon but it's worth a try. Especially with a free swim - presuming it's heated...?
Sunbed Athlete asks: Every distance out there possible and you can turn your hand too! Well done fella!! Question is ventian blind or vertical blind?

_andy says: I think it's just that I like running - and inspiring others that they can do more than they think they can. Speaking of which, you've done an amazing job of that - all those vet medals, and the recent Burns 10k win, and that amazing mileage that you put in - I'm in complete awe. As for the blind question, that's pretty deep, and I'd usually mix it up with a Maltese cross. Both have their place, and if you sit on the fence, you can end up with a tartan effect, which is good in the right sort of light.
Magbag asks: Congratulations Andy !!!
What made you put your running shoes on for the very first time ?


_andy says: Hiya Magabag, and thanks. What a good question - and one that we can all relate to. For me, I'd spent years climbing mountains and keeping up a decent level of fitness from that (albeit never that fast), but then family arrived and getting out into the hills became harder and harder. So as time went by, every hour got filled with family and work (I spent quite a few years writing A-level exam papers, which was really interesting, but became very time-consuming) and I do enjoy my food...

So I hit mid-thirties at a steady 16 stone 4 lb and ended up getting some tests for high blood pressure, plus a diabetes test, just in case (it affected both my father and grandfather) and that seemed to work as a wake-up call. I stumbled across "Marathon Running for Dummies" in the local library while waiting for my eldest to finish gymnastics club and spontaneously decided to borrow it. It's a great read and I nowhave my own copy. So I signed up for the local half-marathon - seven weeks of training seemed like plenty of time (!) and decided that I'd have to work hard to get under two hours. A good friend of mine had previously run 2:01 so I quite wanted to beat him - it's amazing where you can find motivation. I cranked up the mileage, got shin-splints, rested, ran a bit more (my first few weeks' mileage were 10, 0, 11, 31, 35 - so much for the rule about not adding more than 10% each week). That first HM went well and I ran 1:47. Four days later I went back with a ten pound note and joined the same running club. I sympathise with anyone starting out running - those miles with all that extra weight and untrained legs were tough; but it makes me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to run long/steep/fast these days.
Smout asks: Great stuff Mr :) Seems I've no seen you for ages?! You be hitting a road near us anytime soon? On that note.... if / when you finally decide to try this 26.2 tarmac lark - will you train on tarmac for it? an do you know which would be THE ONE?

_andy says: Where have you been Smout (actually, Facebook can answer that one) - not sure about hitting any roads soon, although there's 5 mile to Bash out in a few weeks, so I'll see you there as gaze in awe at the cakes after the race. I'm quite sure that I will run a marathon (only) at some point, but it's a question of when it gets fitted into the calendar. Running it the week before/after a big ultra is a bit silly (not that this would stop me). And I don't think I'd train on tarmac in terms of not wanting to injure myself, plus I'd rather run through the hills or along awesome trails. I'm pretty sure that the fitness will carry over and the benefit of getting to the start line uninjured is enough to convinvce me to stick with what I love. It seemed to work for a 1:20 back in March at the Alloa half-marathon. Now, which Marathon? I'd love to do Edinburgh since it's so local, but the timing is the week after the Islands Peaks race, or the Cateran 55, so I'd only do it as a bit of fun, rather than a PB-smasher. Lochaber in mid-April could well fit, although it was a fortnight after that rotten 100k this year, so I didn't go for it. One day, I will run VLM, but might as well do it as a GFA, which I just need to collect at some other event first. I ran 3:08 during last year's D33 race (and that was the easy 'half' of the race - the last 7 miles hurt much more than the first 26) so a 3:15 GFA isn't an issue. There's definitely a sub-3 attempt out there somewhere - watch this space. well, not literally this one, right here on this page, since I can't add anything now, but you know what I mean.
Nywanda asks: Andy, very well done on MOTY, well overdue. What's still on your bucket-list (not necessarily just races)? What bumper-sticker type slogan would describe your approach to ultras? What's more important when preparing for a 12 hour event: time on feet or perfecting the walk-run strategy? Thanks for inspiring me to 'try' :-D

_andy says: Thanks Nywanda, much appreciated, and glad to have inspired you somewhere along the line. Goodness, cheesy one-liners? Where to begin? I've always liked "walk softly and carry a big stick", but that's not very convenient in an ultra. However, there is a bit of a translation in terms of running softly and keeping something in reserve. The two biggest pieces of advice would have to be "Enjoy the journey" and "Be patient" but there are plenty more bits of wisdom worth plagiarising: when you find them, write them down so you don't forget them. Hmm, for 12 hours I'd recommend time on feet - run when you can, walk the uphill bits as and when you need to. If it's a flat race for 12 hours, then God help you.
joint ear knee asks: Nice one _andy! How far is too far? have you found out yet or is it all about elevation and terain or simply just zening about on your feet and to hell with numbers, they happen as a result fo not thinking about them too much?

_andy says: Thanking you kindly jek! Too far would be either when it's going to cause long term damage, or when the family suffers because of what you're doing. Both of these have stopped me from doing truly daft things. The 3100 mile Sri Chinmoy race gets a "too far" tick from me (if I wanted to run that far, the scenery would have to be amazing) and the idea of a six-day track race is just a bit too much in my book. For elevation, I find I suffer from cramp with long hill races (like ones where you clock 30, 40 or 50 minute miles) so would vote for trail races these days - but the steep uphills can be an excuse to walk (fast) and use different muscles. I quite like the numbers but, like everything in life, they have their place. Some of my best races have come when I wasn't wearing a Garmin or even a watch - something to be recommended once in a while, although I usually do it as a result of a flat battery or just forgetting to take it to the race.
May asks: Well done for MOTM: ) Andy what advice would you give for running the WHW??And what big races would you like to do also what would be your top ten Bucket list ?: )

_andy says: Thanks May! WHW advice would include repeating stuff from earlier, but in case you've jumped straight to your question, or you're reading this in reverse order because you're weren't sure which way round the questions were meant to be, I'd have to say be patient, walk lots, don't worry about the time at all (all that matters is that you keep going), keep going, if you get injured and can't keep going, remember that this is just one year of perhaps many and your chance will come again in another year. The bucket list is mentioned elsewhere, so you'll have to scroll through what's written above to find it... but if you can't be bothered because life is too short and you need to get a run in, then I'll mention the UTMB, BGR and Lakeland 100, which might or might not make any sense to you. That's just the way things are sometimes in life.

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