Your Name: Stuart Shipley
Occupation: Legal Executive
Home Town: Derby
What is your running background?
I ran XC at school and then did my 1st Ultra (4 Inns) at age 17 in 1976 well before they were called Ultras and as a natural extension of the hill walking I did. They were called Challenge Walks back then and the only nutrition we had were Milk, Mars Bars, Kendal Mint cake, Marzipan and pressed dates. Checkpoints were usually a shoebox in the middle of the road.
I got into running more regularly when I got married and had to stop ice and rock climbing, windsurfing, skiing, caving and mountain biking and most of the other stuff I did because running took up much less time and it was something I could do in the odd few minutes I had spare between helping to look after children. It was worth it though because one of them is now my physio! I used to run on my own but my wife joined a club for someone to run with on dark evenings and when I saw her running XC races I had to join too.
Since 2013 I’ve been told 3 times I might not run again, the 1st after a back operation in 2013. The 2nd was after SONK and microfracturing of the end of my femur in December 2016, the latest being after a degenerate meniscus tear in the same knee in October 2017.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
The 4 Inns in 1976 was my 1st Ultra at age 17. I’m looking forward to doing my 27th 4 Inns this weekend with my son who turned 17 last weekend, so it’ll be his 1st Ultra too.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
4 inns and GUCR mainly. They are my favourite 2 Ultras.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
111 ultras and counting including x26 4 Inns and x8 GUCRs, the last one being in 2016 and also my fastest. I thought PBs were a thing of the past until then.
The older I get the more fragile I get and the harder it is to run. For some reason though (still not sure how/why) in 2015/2016 I lost over a stone in weight and had a brilliant year knocking over 3hrs off my 100m PB, 1.5hrs off my 2007 GUCR PB and got back to some of the best times I’d been running over all road distances 5K-marathon, for 15yrs or more.
What was your hardest race experience?
Spine 2016 without a doubt. To keep going for 7 days on so little sleep took a massive amount of determination. I loved it though and it played to what strengths I have left.
What events do you have planned for 2018 up to Spartathlon?
A few cycling Sportives (by necessity), 4 Inns (naturally), GUCR (slowly), hopefully building up to and finishing off with KACR.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
Make sure I don’t start off too fast, start off too fast and then pay for it until dark. Feel dreadful overnight and then much better into the 2nd day.
What does a typical training week look like?
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Enjoy the hallucinations.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I once showed Princess Margaret around an assault course we’d built at a Chatsworth Scout Jamboree although you’re no allowed to call them assault courses these days. They have to be Adventure courses.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
How did you get on?
I didn’t. My 1st attempt was in 2004 when I was very naïve. We have a long and troubled history (from my angle anyway) I was hoping to get a chance in 2016 during my unexpected renaissance and when I was on top of the world, but I didn’t get in. I was confident of finishing at that time. It’s been a long road and I expect there are still a few more twists and turns to come.
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
“In the warriors code there’s no surrender, though his body says stop his spirit cries, never.”
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Some sun and another chapter in my book of life
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
Heat, but It can’t possibly be as hot as it was in 2012 when I last ran and when there was a 20% Brit finish rate… can it?
Also ‘that hill’ at about 30miles just after Megara. Hate it.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Pole pole (‘slowly’) for the sake of my knee so much cycling and a lot of head games
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
No, so I’ll make do with what I find out there with fellow competitors and the wonderful CP and support staff.