Your Name: Alastair Higgins
Occupation: Musician, whisk(e)y sales, stay at home dad, whisky investor.
Home Town: Dublin
Twitter Account: @mostlydrinking
What is your running background?
I was a very average runner at school and usually finished last in inter-county cross country races. However I was a decent all-rounder at athletics. It wasn’t until I picked up a cycling injury at the age of 39 that my physio suggested running. For a few years I was a purely recreational runner. Eventually I did some marathons and after reading Scott Jurek’s Eat and Run I decided to take on ultras. Eventually I got a bit more serious and realised that with a bit more effort I could actually be a contender. Since 2016 I’ve won a few and also managed a respectable 10th in Spartathlon 2018.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
2014 was my first and it was really tough! Scott Jurek was my original inspiration. I wanted to push myself beyond marathon distance to see what I was capable of.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I try to mix it up as possible and there a only a few races that I’m likely to repeat year after year. Having said that my favourites are Connemarathon Ultra, and of course Spartathlon.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
Last year’s Spartathlon would be hard to beat but I was honoured to race for Scotland this year in the Anglo Celtic Plate. I’ve won the odd race but perhaps my biggest achievement is learning that sometimes more enjoyment can come from not winning but still having a great race.
What was your hardest race experience?
Any that have resulted in a DNF.
What events do you have planned for 2019 up to Spartathlon? (Dates/name of key events)
Already completed in 2019:
The Art O’Neill Ultra
The Irish 50km Championships
The Anglo Celtic Plate UK 100km Championships
Crawley 24 Hour Race, well approx 16 hours!
Then in June: The West Highland Way Ultra- 95miles
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
It really depends on the distances. For a 50km or 100km I’d usually go out hard and try to maintain some sort of pace. 100 milers and beyond are where you really have to hold back a bit for the first half.
What does a typical training week look like?
For Spartathlon last year I tried to maintain 100 mile weeks peaking at 195 miles four weeks out. A typical week usually comprised of two speed/tempo sessions and b2b long runs at the weekend. I also included some heat/altitude chamber stuff.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Stay in the moment, just concentrate on the next kilometre.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I collect single malt whiskey.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
How did you get on?
2018, 10th overall, 1st Brit.
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
I found that dividing the race into three sections is a good strategy. The first third is about economy, pacing yourself and staying relaxed. The second third is where you can race a bit and push your way up the mountain. The last third is just horrible and about survival of the fittest.
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Meeting the team. Hanging out and eating Greek yoghurt.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
That last third.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
Heat and altitude training. Some trail running in Italy.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
No, it’s nice to have support crews but the great thing about Spartathlon is that you can do just as well without them.