Your Name: Paul Rowlinson
Occupation: Media Executive
Home Town: London
Twitter Account: @PaulRowlinson
What is your running background?
I ran 800m and 1500m and cross country as a young boy. Then stuck to teams sports throughout my teens, 20s and ended up doing no exercise by the time my children arrived in my 30s. In 2006 a mate phoned me to tell me that he’d signed me up to run in the London Marathon with an old cricketing chum and former England ODI and Surrey captain Adam Hollioake. Because I was drunk when I took the call I said yes, and it failed to register that I was going to be doing my first marathon in full cricket kit, pads, bat the lot. It was running around Richmond Park on a January morning a few weeks later, about 7 miles in, when I suddenly realized how much I loved running. That said I was 40 years old and about 13.5 stone at the time (I’m just over 11 now) and my first marathon was misery. I had a stomach bug so from the Isle of Dogs onwards I was shuffling from one portaloo to the next, and it’s no fun running in whites in front of thousands of people when you have diahorrea…..
But I finished, went back to do London again the following year, and have run Paris, Edinburgh and London again a couple of times since, but after just 2 road marathons I wanted a different sort of challenge as I’m not quick (my best marathon is 3.06) so instead of trying to go faster I wanted to see how far I could go instead.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
I’m not particularly quick and I’m knocking on a bit so it seemed the obvious thing to try to go further. I was curious to see how far I could go, and I guess as a biologist by training I was interested to see what my body is capable of.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I’ve done a couple of multi-day stage events. Sahara and Nepal with Racing the Planet. The Votwo 3-day challenges (Atlantic and Jurassic coasts) and one of my favourites, The Oner. Centurion events are always great fun and I love running on the South and North Downs. Sprinkled in with some Lakeland and Alps races.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
UTMB has to be no.1. Best thing I’ve ever done running-wise.
The Oner in 21 hours and getting a handshake and a “good job mate” from an ex Royal Marine was better than any medal. Also loved the SDW100 in 2013, and clocked just over 19 hours which was a pleasant surprise.
What was your hardest race experience?
Probably UTMB in 2013; everything went well and I finished in the top 1/3 of the field, but nevertheless 40-odd hours on your feet in the mountains is tough. The other one was Nepal. I was 19th out of 230 going into the penultimate day and had been rising up the field every day. The long stage (47 miles) was right up my street. 3 massive climbs and steep descents. But I woke up with what turned out to be an amoebic infection and puked and shat my way through 23 hours of hot and humid misery. Fortunately a tent mate found me lying by the side of the trail about ½ way through the stage, and literally picked me up and pushed me for the next 20 odd miles of trails.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon?
GUCR – 23/24 May
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
Try not to get hung up on timings, and just relax and run by feel as much as possible. It’s probably one reason why I failed Sparta this year, aside from the electrolyte overdose was that I didn’t do this. I was trying to gain time on every checkpoint so probably pushed harder in the first half than I needed to. This year I’m going to adopt a more relaxed approach and try to enjoy it more.
What does a typical training week look like?
I run most days in the week, morning and evening to / from work. 5-10 miles in total most days. Get a long run (20+ miles) in most weekends. Do some cycling in my commute, go to the Tooting Bec lido for recovery swims. Refuel in the Fox & Grapes on Wimbledon Common.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Don’t race other people. Have a plan but don’t over complicate or be surprised if you have to adapt it after 5 minutes…. Relax and enjoy it, and remember once you go past your longest distance, every step is a new personal best.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I like cheese. It all depends on your definition of interesting.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
Yes, in 2014
How did you get on?
I made it to one checkpoint prior to the mountain. I was going well at ½ way. Got there in about 14.5 hours. But made a rookie error by over-dosing on electrolytes. I spent the 75 to 95 mile stretch spewing my guts up and lost all momentum and pace. My advice? Don’t make stupid mistakes or be complacent going into this race. It is very unforgiving.
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
Relax and enjoy it.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Being back in Greece, being supported and cheered by the wonderfully friendly Greek people but most of all, finishing.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The first 50 miles. Running on the hard shoulder of a dual carriageway isn’t my idea of fun.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Plenty of running, and because I have a crappy knee, some strengthening using weights. I do most of my weekend running on the North Downs – trails and hills are so much better than roads – and use my commute as a training slot too. I’m running GUCR in May, and will do some long runs with mates over the summer, mainly on the Downs.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
No. Sounds anti-social but it’s just one less thing to worry about.