Your Name: James Poole
Occupation: Sports marketing and consultancy
Home Town: London
What is your running background? I began running back in school and was a member of Havant AC in my formative years. However, I was also something of a late bloomer and struggled to get results against fully grown men aged 14. Over the years I have dabbled in lots of different endurance sports – 24hr mountain bike racing, road cycling and Ironman triathlon – before eventually falling in love with the simple act of putting one foot in front of another.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why? I first started running ultra marathons in 2010. I’d being doing Ironman for a few years but got fed up with the high entry costs, reliance on ‘gear’ and focus on going faster at all costs. The simplistic nature of ultras was attractive and I figured that if I could run a 3.5 hour marathon after a 5hr bike, how hard could an ultra be. The answer was very hard. I’ve never looked back.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you? My partner, Claudia, and I are the founders of AdventRunning, a free and inclusive running community. So you are most likely to see us running around London with a group of runners wearing fluorescent trucker caps. When we’re not doing this you’ll find us running the trails around Chamonix Mont Blanc.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
London Marathon 2016 – 2:44
Silver buckle at Western States 100
34hr finish at UTMB 2015
17:06 at The Autumn 100
What was your hardest race experience? Without doubt UTMB. On paper it looks hard but in reality it’s tougher still. The big climbs just keep coming and when you’re almost back to Chamonix you have to head up the Tete au Vent. Hard as nails.
What events do you have planned for 2015 up to Spartathlon? A number of the brilliant Maverick Races, Hackney Half, TR24, Montagnhard, North Downs Way Marathon, Endure 12:50, North Downs Way 100, Ultra Tour de Monte Rosa. A mix of short races to work on leg speed and longer ones to build endurance.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra? I’m not sure I have a typical race strategy. I’ve tried the Ian Thomas approach of starting off fast and hanging on but it’s mostly ended in tears. My Spartathlon qualifier was at The Autumn 100 and I started off steady and ran strong in the second half. I much preferred this but it definitely requires you to have faith in your training.
What does a typical training week look like? I’ve been on a higher mileage diet since the beginning of the year and have been targeting 100 miles a week. It’s actually been a bit lower than this as a result of a trip to Nepal and a taper for the London Marathon – but I’m aiming to get back to that sort of volume in the next few weeks. An ideal week will have five or six easy runs, two tempo runs and a long run.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time? Don’t worry about splits and pace. Look around, take in the scenery and enjoy yourself.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself? Some people say I look like David Tennant.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before? No
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race? Unimaginatively, kissing the foot of King Leonidas.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race? All that road.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race? Plenty of road miles, back to back long runs and a few races treated mostly as training runs.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? Yes. Claudia has crewed me at UTMB and Western States so is used to seeing me in a pit of misery and despair. I’m not sure I could get round without her.