Your Name: James Ellis
Occupation: Journalist/PT/nutrition therapist/dad/ultra runner – not always in that order
Home Town: Leeds
Twitter Account: @worldofjames
What is your running background?
I used to run cross-country a bit at school but was nothing special. About 12 years ago my old man died. He wasn’t old, but his lifestyle was terrible and when he got sick, he was in hospital for about four months comatose. Life became hospital/work/hospital/sleep repeat. My diet suffered, I drank more and more, I smoked and I put on about four stone. It took me another year after he died to pull myself out of the spiral, go to the gym and eventually try to get fit. When I took voluntary redundancy from my job, I decided on a whim to start running three miles a day every day for a year and blogging about it. It was a slippery slope.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
Crazy running pals Jamie Holmes, Darren Strachan and David Bone (all past Spartathletes) kind of dragged me into it. Jamie’s daughter Holly suffers from a condition called Hemiplegia and we decided to raise some cash for the charity Hemihelp by running the Brighton Marathon one weekend, running from Brighton to London midweek, and then running the London Marathon the following weekend. I was hooked.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I do a lot of running, but not a lot of races, so funnily enough, Spartathlon… this is four in a row now and people are starting to look at me as though I’m mad. Not to mention the fact it’s costing me a fortune! Other than that, I like the canal races and I’m particularly fond of a series of local races to me in the Dales run by a company called Punk Panther. They’re small-scale, big on hills and great scenery, super friendly and brilliantly organised.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
Three in a row Spartathlons is something I never dreamed of. I’ve podiumed at a couple of races, but I can’t brag about them as the fields were pretty small.
What was your hardest race experience?
The first Spartathlon. I was totally naïve about what the race entailed and it was only my sixth or seventh ultra… It broke me for weeks after.
What events do you have planned for 2018 up to Spartathlon?
As many of the five Punk Panther races as I can fit in (see here http://punkpanther.co.uk/). KACR and possibly LLCR – perhaps the latter with a controlled/pre-planned DNF at 100 miles.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
Start slow and finish slower!
What does a typical training week look like?
In the run up to Spartathlon, I tend to do 5×10 miles in the week, two Insanity Live cross-training sessions, a weights session and a long run at the weekend…
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Just do it – 90 per cent is in the head. If you’re made of stern stuff, you’ll get through.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
Comes up every year and I’m still not sure people believe me: I’ve shadow boxed with Muhammad Ali.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
2015, 2016, 2017
How did you get on?
2015 – 35.35
2016 – 35.05
2017 – 34.55
I’m getting marginally better J
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
Enjoy it – it’s a phenomenal race. Don’t let the check points get into your head.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Hopefully, a fourth finish. Our twins Martha & Gracie are coming out to watch for the first time. They are seven and think their dad is a hero for finishing in the past. I can’t let them down.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
Nothing – I love the race. It’s tough but the most rewarding thing ever sports wise.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
More speed sessions than before – and lots of mental visualisation.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
The blonde bombshells are back: Wife Laura and her mate Nicky!