Your Name: Paul Rowlinson
Occupation: Media Exec
Home Town: Wimbledon
Twitter Account: @PaulRowlinson
What is your running background? Middle distance and cross country as a kid, then nothing whilst I played footy and cricket until my mid 30s. Ran my first London marathon in fancy dress (full cricket kit, including pads) in 2007 aged 40. Ran it properly the following year, then got curious about how far I could run.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why? Whilst I’ve got my marathon time down to 3:06, I’m too old to go fast and, anyway, trails are more interesting. In 2009 I competed in the Racing the Planet Sahara Race, and did a few “ultras” in preparation. I got bitten by the bug.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you? Centurion Running – I’ve run a few races but also like to volunteer.
What are your personal key running achievements to date? Finishing Spartathlon in 2015 is no.1, closely followed by UTMB in 2013. I was very pleased with 32.5hrs for GUCR last year, and getting c.19 hours on the SDW100 in 2013, and c.20 hours on The Oner in 2011.
What was your hardest race experience? Finishing the RTP Nepal Race in 2011 despite a bad bout of diarrhoea and vomiting over the last couple of days.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon? Ultra Trail Eiger in July, and UTMB-CCC in August.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra? Start slow and then get slower.
What does a typical training week look like? Running or cycling my commute to / from central London Mon-Fri. 15-25 mile run on North Downs at the weekend. One or two longer runs in the final few weeks before a race. Some swimming, Bikram yoga and a little bit of strength work. I’m not a high mileage trainer and have to nurse a dodgy knee through this stuff.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time? Beforehand, talk to as many people as possible, sift through all the advice and try out kit and food / hydration to find out what suits you. Listen to your body rather than music. Start out gently, eat and drink little and often. Have a plan, but be flexible. Most importantly, smile and enjoy the company of others and what is around you.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself? I’ve never watched a James Bond movie from start to finish, or been inside an IKEA.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before? Yes, twice.
How did you get on? Failed in 2014, finished in 2015.
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time? Don’t get fixated on the cut-offs. In 2014 I kept trying to put time down on the cut-off between each checkpoint. I blew up at ½ way and spiralled into a DNF before the mountain. In 2015 I was only just ahead of the cut-off until the mountain and then picked up about an hour’s cushion soon after. Say “Yassoo” (hello) to the people at each CP when you get there and “Efharisto” (thank you) as you leave, and smile as much as you can.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race? Seeing friends, the camaraderie, the friendliness of the Greek people, the mountain (I’m not being funny – I loved that part of the race) and all being well the final 500m. Kissing the Kings feet in front of those crowds was an amazing experience.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race? Some of the first sections aren’t pretty, but if you get your head up and smile and think of the nicer bits to come that’s not a problem. Also, watching Rob Pinnington’s bum bouncing up and down in front of me for the first few miles was no picnic last year.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race? Two trail races in the summer in the Alps. Spartathlon is not flat, and anyway trail running is more fun than roads and excellent for conditioning.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? Yes, my buddy Russ Bestley and Sarah Dryden will be pushing me on.