Your Name: Cameron Humphries
Occupation: Restaurant Management
Home Town: Colchester now living in London
What is your running background?
I was an ok runner at school and college but nothing special, once I went to Reading Uni at 18 exercise took a backseat and going out 5 times a week was the priority! After a couple of years of abusing my body running slowly re-entered my life to balance things out.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
I entered the crazy world relatively young at 22 but it felt a long time coming. I had read the obligatory Dean Karnezes book and I just loved the idea that you didn’t have to stop at the marathon. My first ultra came just a month after my first marathon. It wasn’t a conventional ultra, an assault course based 24 hour timed event called World’s Toughest Mudder. I covered 65 miles and learnt a lot about myself in the process.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
The Essex XC season was my first last winter and I intend to run it every year now. Simple back to basic flog yourself for 25-45 minutes that I loved. Aside from that I don’t race as often as I would like due to work (Restaurant industry) often taking over my weekends. I run at Parkrun 20-30 Saturdays a year and tend to cherry pick other races of all distances around work and social commitments. That usually includes 2-3 ultras a year.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
I’m not satisfied with any of my PBs from 5km to the marathon – I figure I have plenty of time to improve all of them though. The only performance I remain truly satisfied with was my 137.9 miles in 24 hours at Tooting Bec last September (My Sparta Auto-qualifier), it was as close to perfect as I’ve achieved in ultras yet. I’m also proud of my 2nd year (2014 – 28th place) at World’s Toughest Mudder but know I could have done better with smarter kit choices.
What was your hardest race experience?
The nightmare final hours at Lake Las Vegas where I broke down from cold and exhaustion during World’s Toughest Mudder 2014. I look back now and see an inexperienced poorly prepared runner! I couldn’t calculate that with the speed I was moving in the storm I needed to change to my thicker wetsuit. I gambled all my chips on the sunrise warming me up, when it didn’t and I kept getting colder it was as low as I’ve ever felt in a race. Getting into the medical tent and not having to run one more lap was the biggest relief but I had big regrets that I didn’t get out for one more lap.
What events do you have planned for 2016 up to Spartathlon?
I raced the Hardmoors 110 on May 6th, finished 11th in 26:35. Whilst this was a long way off my original target of sub 24 hours my prep in the prior weeks had been atrocious. The most positive aspect was how strong I felt at the finish with the idea of more miles and time not daunting. Also, it was only my second time over 100 miles and the longest I’ve ever been on a course so it was a good learning experience for September.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
Cliche but best results have been when starting slow, then slowing down when I think I’m going to slow. Control the ego for the first half then come strong in the second half. Of course the risk is something goes wrong at half way and the race never comes together. This has happened on a couple of occasions but I’ve always finished, the difference with Spartathlon if this happens is a near certain DNF! That scares and excites me.
What does a typical training week look like?
Currently 0 miles a week. I’m not injured but haven’t been getting out the door through a combination of work, social life and lack of desire. Frankly think I burned myself out a little. Normally it’s 40-70 miles a week, 5-6 days a week. Time is ticking for Spartathlon and the desire is growing so it’s time to get back out there.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Sheer bloody mindedness and belief will get you a long way. Once you toe the start line you will always wish you trained harder, didn’t drink that beer and had prepared better but it will be too late. If you focus on what you can control which is one foot in front of the other you will usually surprise yourself with your achievement.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I spent 18 months travelling 13 countries across 2014-2016.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The deepest low that comes when you question what on earth you are doing this for when you could have just went to Greece for a ‘normal’ holiday.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Two things: Being part of a British Team before, during and after the race. Particularly the post race beers.
The high that comes after you’ve pushed through the deepest low, when the pain disappears and your stride opens up so you can run again.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
I’m praying for a hot summer. I spent 18 months living and travelling in the Southern Hemisphere so running in high temperatures is not alien I’m just a bit out of practice. Extra layers and saunas amongst other ideas may be considered.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
Yes, although she hates the term support crew. My wonderfully supportive girlfriend Lauren will be in attendance. Whilst not a runner herself she has helped push me to some great performances in the past. I think the appeal of some post race excess and some time on Santorini will help!