Your Name: (Miles) James Ellis
Occupation: Journalist, copywriter and personal trainer
Home Town: Leeds
Twitter Account: @worldofjames
Website/Blog: (if applicable) jamesellisfitness.com
What is your running background?
I used to hate running – I went to a small ex-pat school in Athens and to get into the football squad, you HAD to run cross-country. After a season or two, I began to enjoy it, but then wine, women and song took over and my sporting prowess (at both running and football) came to an end. I got back into fitness eight years ago after the death of my dad, and did a running challenge where from scratch I ran three miles a day, every day for a year and blogged about it (1095miles.com). The three miles got longer and longer through the year, and I eventually did two halves and a marathon as well.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
A year later, along with three pals, we wanted to do something different. Jamie Holmes (who is also on the Spartathlon team) has a lovely daughter Holly who suffers from a condition called hemiplegia and we want to raise some cash for a charity called Hemihelp that gave the family some assistance. We decided to run the Brighton and London marathons a week apart – and run from Brighton to London in the middle of the week between the two. The middle run was self-organised, relatively shambolic, great fun and an amazing experience – a bit like most other ultras I’ve completed. Other runners came and joined us for little bits of the run. It’s when I first really ‘got’ the idea of ultra-running. Sadly, our other two running pals from the ‘dream team’ that completed that challenge (and every one we’ve done since) David Bone and Darren Strachan are on the waiting list. I never want to wish ill on any other runner, but I would love it if by some quirk, they could join us in September.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I’m an ever present at the Brighton Marathon – the first one I completed – and the Leeds Half which is my hometown race and one I always fit it into my training diary. I also used to love the London Ultra but that’s now gone. As a foursome, we tend to do one real biggie a year – but not always an organised run, so mostly, you’ll see me pounding roads and dirt tracks around Otley on the cusp of the Yorkshire Dales where I live.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
Most memorable was the four of us crossing the finish line together in joint first place at last year’s 24 Ultra Trail run at Ashburnham, near Hastings (http://www.24ultrarun.co.uk/)
What was your hardest race experience?
I was so buoyed by my first that first place (above) that the following Sunday I decided I was invincible and tried to follow a up with a PB attempt at the Yorkshire Marathon. I flew the first half and was on course for a 3.10 when I felt a twinge. By mile 15, I was limping and dragged myself around the course to come in just under four hours and in total agony. Along the way, people were trying to gee me up: “come on, you can do it” – I wanted to scream “I ran bloody 113 miles a week ago, I know I can do it.” The resultant stress fracture left me sidelined for two months – the most frustrating thing ever. At times, I still hate running, but when it’s not there, I don’t half miss it.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon?
None! I’m plodding my way around with a couple of long ones self-organised with Jamie.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
What does a typical training week look like?
I try to mix things up and do lots of cross training. I teach an Insanity Live! exercise class twice a week, swim and have a garage gym. I then try and do 4 shortish runs through the week, increasing my two/three weekend biggies with Friday and Saturday‘s runs being a little shorter.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
If you’ve trained well, you can do it… even when that nagging voice is saying you can’t, you can.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
Muhammad Ali threw a couple of punches at me. I met him at the launch of a PlayStation boxing game along with Lennox Lewis (who I was interviewing). When I got to talk to him, he took up a stance and chucked a couple of air punches my way. Even though he was clearly blighted by Parkinson’s, he lit up the room. A giant of a man.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
First time caller, long time listener.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Kissing the feet. Some good banter on the way. I was also raised in Greece and speak Greek fluently, so it’s kind of a homecoming for me. I don’t want to let anyone down.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The bit after the Acropolis Athens, until we hit Cornith.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Plod, plod, plod…
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
Hoping to bring the long-suffering missus, Laura, who keeps our four-year-old twins Martha and Gracie occupied while dad’s training. What more does she want than a weekend away to watch me running for 36 hours? Can I give a girl a good time, or what?