Ian Thomas

2016 British Spartathlon Team Ian Thomas 03

Occupation:   IT Project Manager

Home Town: Norwich

Twitter account: @ultraian

Website/blog: ultraian.wordpress.com 

Running Background

What is your running background? I’ve run recreationally at various points in my life, but I started racing in earnest in 2009 with a desire to be the best I could be. Initially I focused on road racing 5k to Marathons before venturing into Ultra’s. I started a little late in life compared to most, but it’s never too late to push the boundaries!

When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why? Dipped by toe in the water in 2011 to see what I was capable of after my first sub 3 marathon. It was the Marriott’s Way Ultra (36m), a low key free event on my main training route at that time in Norwich. Beginners luck saw me win the event and set a new course record, which fortuitously still stands today. Not for much longer I suspect!

When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you? Any Ultra’s really but usually 100 mile plus. I’d love to be a regular at Spartathlon, GUCR and LLC130 where possible and do have aspirations to tackle other classics like Lakeland 100, Western States or indeed the US Grand Slam, though cost rules out the latter.

Events like UTMB, Spine, MDS or multi day events aren’t really my scene. I prefer pure hard running events.

I also still enjoy road racing anything from 5k to Marathon and am keen not to neglect this area of my racing, so I’ll be trying harder in 2016. I hope there are still a few PB’s in me yet.

What are your personal key running achievements to date? 

Completing Spartathlon at the first attempt in 2015 at age 56 to finish 3rd Brit in 31:33

Running 2 sub 3 marathons at age 52 and 53 (best 2:57:35)

Completing my second Liverpool to Leeds (LLC130) in 24:09 (2nd) A PB of 3:50 on the previous year.

Completing the GUCR, the Centurion Grand Slam and LLC130 within the same year (2014)

Completing Thames Ring 250 (2013) at the first attempt – 80:17 (6th)

‘Pb’ing by over 4hrs to finish 3rd at GUCR in 2016 in a time of 27:43


Ian pictured after finishing the 2016 GUCR

What was your hardest race experience? Spartathlon 2015

What events do you have planned for 2016 up to Spartathlon? Sandy 10 mile (April), Bungay Marathon (April), TP100 (May), GUCR (May), Norfolk 100k (June), LLC130 (August) and maybe one two additional marathons, 50k or 100k’s.

What is your typical race strategy for an ultra? Go out reasonably fast, wobble a bit in the middle and try to finish strongly. Eat a little of everything that’s easily digestible, stay hydrated and avoid gels like the plague.

What does a typical training week look like? Varies due to work commitments, but could be anything from around 70-120 miles plus per week. Incorporating lots of hills and speed via ‘Doubles’ sessions, all executed on road to build the necessary strength for Spartathlon.

What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time? Just focus on the now and dismiss the distance from your mind. It’s just a number! Know before you start that you will cross that line.

Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself? I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m currently the fastest ever British finisher of Spartathlon over the age of 55. Fame at last.

2016 British Spartathlon Team Ian Thomas 02


Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?  Yes in 2015

How did you get on? Finished in 31:33 (3rd Brit)

What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time? Stay calm and avoid trying to build a large buffer over the first 50 miles. It could well undo your race or cause you major suffering beyond the mountain at 100 miles.

What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race? The whole journey, kissing the foot of King Leonidas, the amazing welcome in Sparti and being greeted by my wife, In Laws and fellow team members.

Ian is also running in support of NANSA (Norfolk and Norwich Scope Association) a local disability charity based in Norfolk. If you would like to find out more about or sponsor Ian you can find his fund-raising page here 

What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race? A potentially cold and wet transition across the mountain at 100 miles in.

How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race? Same as last year largely. High mileage on roads, two or three big ultras, one or two smaller ultras, a marathon or two, plus some additional strength training.

Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? Yes on this occasion, as it will be nice for my wife and in laws to share in the experience throughout the build up, the race itself and the finish in Sparti.

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