Your Name: Paul Ali
Occupation: Business Change Manager
Home Town: Reading
Twitter Account: @ultraavon
What is your running background?
Not much to speak of. I played amateur football for many years and started a bit of jogging (and the odd 10k) in between seasons as a way of keeping fit. After suffering a nasty ankle injury in 2007 I stopped playing football and set myself a challenge of running a 50 mile event as a way of proving my fitness after a long lay off.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
After finishing near the back in my first ever Ultra-marathon (The Thames Path Ultra) I was hooked and decided to run another 50 mile 3 weeks later (the inaugural Thames Trot). It was far too soon after the first event and I finished near the back again.
Undeterred I started to run a few more miles and steadily improved my results over the next couple of years.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I live in the South East close to the Thames Path & Ridgeway so events around here along with Centurion events are all close by.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
2013 was a good year which saw me finish 4th in the GUCR, complete the Thames Ring and finish Spartathlon.
2014 was an ok year which saw me complete the Centurion Grand Slam, the GUCR and I managed a 100 mile PB at the Winter 100 (18.57).
What was your hardest race experience?
The one you didn’t finish. For me it was the T184, too many races, not enough training.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon?
I am doing The Oner in April, the GUCR in May and possibly looking at one more ultra in July/August before Spartathlon. I will also be running a few marathons in between.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
My better performances have usually come when I’ve started near the back and taken it very easy for the first part of the race and then gradually creep up through the ranks until you reach those of a similar ability around you.
What does a typical training week look like?
Lots of short runs during the week (usually double runs per day of 4-5 miles) and then back to back runs on the weekend. I like clocking reasonably high mileage but I should really be doing more ‘quality’ (speedwork/hill-work) sessions.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Treat each event as if it was the last time you were running it.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I always wear a blue shirt to work on Fridays.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
Yes in 2013.
How did you get on?
I finished in just over 35 hours and was honestly pleased just to finish.
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
More road miles, my quads were so sore I couldn’t really run the second half of the race and I ended up marching a lot of it.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
A few things. It’s all about the finish really but I’m looking forward to getting to the top of the mountain and looking back to view where you’ve just come from. When you get to this point, you’ve got a great chance of finishing the race.
Also, looking forward to taking part in a truly international event with my running buddy Paul Stout. It was only a few years ago we were lining up as ultra-running muppets at our first GUCR. Some may argue, we haven’t changed from being those two ultra-running muppets.
Finally, being part of (unofficial) Team GB and having some good banter with anyone running from Malta.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
That 30-50 mile stretch when you realise that you can’t stop at 26.2 today.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Lots of miles, more road miles and I’ll be wearing a bin bag/sweat suit over the summer.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
I’ll be accompanied by (my buddy and running ‘wife’) Stouty but he’s also running so there’s no extra crew. My wife and daughter will hopefully be cheering me on from home via any web updates/social media updates.