Name: Allan Anderson
Occupation: Managing Director
Home Town: Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire
What is your running background?
After 20 years of amateur football, I kind of stumbled into long distance running as I was searching for something to fill the void that was left by not playing football. However, I always loved running as a kid and if I missed the bus to school, I thought nothing of running the 10 miles in full school uniform so maybe there is something in that, but it makes me laugh now to think of all the odd looks I’d get!
My wife talked me into running the 2010 London Marathon to raise money for a special needs school she was working at. I loved the experience of running the London Marathon, but I couldn’t imagine running one step further back then.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
Back in 2015, after hanging up my football boots, I was looking for a big challenge and ended up entering Ironman Wales. I couldn’t swim, so I had to learn from scratch, but I got there and finished that in just under 15 hours. Although I’m glad I was able to complete an Ironman, the whole scene just isn’t me and I’m still proud of getting around the bike course in the cheapest bike possible!
What Ironman did was open my eyes to ultra-events and pushing myself as hard as possible, so after stumbling across a few books like Living with a SEAL, Born to Run and Eat and Run, I was literally blown away with the limits people were able to go to.
In 2017 I ran my first ultra, which was Country to Capital and since then I’ve competed in around 20 Ultras, ranging from 50k to 24-hour track races.
When I first met Jamie Holmes in early 2018 and he started telling me about this race called Spartathlon, which he’d run. I’d never heard of it and I thought “that is mental, who would be f’ing crazy enough to do that!?”.
Before I knew it, I wanted to run Spartathlon and although it’s taken me 4 years to get here, I am so looking forward to it, I know it will be my greatest challenge, but I can’t wait!
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
Recently I have been focussing on track races, so events like Gloucester and Crawley 24-hour races but I also love a Centurion race, or low key events like Running Miles 6 hour races.
GUCR really got under my skin, in the best possible way so I would love to have another crack at that.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
212k at Crawley 24-hour track race in 2022, with a 100-mile PB of 17:24 was really pleasing, especially coming off he back of some bad track experiences and a DNF at GUCR 2021.
On a personal level, running 100 miles up and down my street in 2020 to raise money for our local food-bank during the pandemic, was really nice.
What was your hardest race experience?
My first two 24-hour races at Gloucester in 2020 and 2021 were massive learning curves but stopping at 81 miles at GUCR 2021 was tough. With these DNF’s I’ve learned that it was my own self-belief that was holding me back and so I’ve worked on the mental side of things a lot and that certainly helped with my 212k at Crawley.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
In many ways it depends on the race but the main aim is always to finish and to finish as high up as possible.
I try and keep it as relaxed as possible at the start, focusing on setting a good rhythm and effort and not pushing too hard in the first half.
Nutrition wise I’ve learned that a gel every 45 mins and water, with salt tabs is the way too go. When I can’t take any more gels, I will just eat whatever my stomach wants.
What does a typical training week look like?
50 to 100 miles but working up to the bigger 100-mile weeks before a long race and then tapering.
I’m not a member of an athletics team, so I am a bit of a loner when training.
Depending on the race, I might do sessions on the track, or just stick to the trails by my house and I’m lucky to be near great trails, long stretches of canal and a local track.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Depending on the race, I think a lot of first timers really stress around kit and what they carry. I’ve learned to really pack light these days. With great races, like Centurion, Camino Ultra, Go Beyond or Running Miles, they are super friendly events, where aside from the mandatory kit, you don’t need a lot, so I’d say not to stress about taking too much stuff.
At the end of the day, it’s only running and even though some events are tough, it should be fun, so smile and
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I have exactly the same name as my Dad! Wasn’t always easy to know who the phone was for, when we’d get calls to the house and as a teenager, that sometimes was embarrassing :0)
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
I’m a newbie!!
Where did you get your qualifier for Spartathlon:
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
I’ve been working to get a place at Spartathlon for 4 years and in that time, I’ve met some great people along the way and lots of them will be either on the team, or supporting, so I’m really looking forward to sharing the experience with the team and crews.
I’ve thought about the finish many times, so that drives me and I’m looking forward to that.
All in all, I just want to take it all in, good and bad and experience everything Spartathlon has to throw at me.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
I’d really like my family to be there but with two small boys, who are 8 and 4, it makes it challenging. So I’d love my wife and boys to be there but hopefully they get to see enough on the video streams and I know they will be cheering me on.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
My training block for Crawley went well, so I will pretty much go with that but I am really lucky to be coached by Nathan Flear, who has been massive in getting me to this point, so I’ll just do what he tells me :0)
Aside from nailing the training plan, I will throw in a bit of heat training and working on my own mind, to ensure that I will do the best I can do.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? (If so, please introduce them briefly)
Nathan and his wife Tori will be there. Nathan has been massive for me over the last few years and both of them were amazing for me at Crawley and I’m lucky to have their support.
Jamie Holmes started me on this journey, and he’s run Spartathlon too, so it’s wonderful that he will be there too to support me.