Name: Laurence Chownsmith
Occupation: Divisional Sales Manager REHAU Ltd
Home Town: Windsor
What is your running background?
Running for 30+ years, mainly half and full marathons.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
I supported Martin Ilott on Spartathlon in 2006 on a bike, and thought it was a fantastic race and decided or was persuaded that I would give Ultras a go.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
I don’t do that many Ultras in a year, sometimes I do the GUCR though not his year, perhaps the Liverpool to Leeds Canal race. I like local marathons and half marathons and training in the great park. Last ultra was in October 2019 the 5th Immortals race in Greece.
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
2015 Sakura Michi Nature run in Japan 255km in 34.03. I have really enjoyed running the GUCR, the Olympian race, and the Doliho because of their friendly organizers and volunteers. Best Spartathlon finish 33.48 in the hurricane of 2018.
What was your hardest race experience?
I find the Ultras are always tough, but the Spartathlon in 2011, in the hottest weather was a killer. I did not finish.
What events do you have planned for 2020 up to Spartathlon?
I was planning on another go at the Dolichos but that was cancelled and then rescheduled a week before the Spartathlon ! Have had a knee injury so having to run conservatively until full recovery.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
I do try not to go off too quickly but keep a steady pace and run to how I am feeling. I like the feeling of two marathons under the belt it feels like the race has just started. I prefer normal food to gels etc. Pizza on the Spartathlon is a favorite. Though after a while food can be tricky.
What does a typical training week look like?
I don’t really have one due to work commitments, but as the Ultra comes closer, 8 weeks away, I tend to try and run 3-5 times a week with a long Saturday and Sunday run in the Windsor Great Park. This year for the Spartathlon I am going to concentrate on keeping injury free and slowly ramp up towards 70+ miles a week . To ensure I can run the first two marathons in a good time and still feel strong going forward into the next four marathons. This is the theory anyway.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Start slowly and enjoy the event and talk to the fellow runners and supporters.
Can you tell us one interesting fact about yourself?
I am well- travelled and have done many holidays and house swaps around the world. I have also been to almost all areas on mainland Greece, so if you need recommendations after the Spartathlon, please ask.
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
How did you get on?
2017 in a time of 35.36 and 2018 in a time of 33.48.
If you have participated before, what tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
Train to run a Marathon in 3.45 and to feel comfortable. This is important as your need to run two marathons in the heat in approximately 9+hours and have something left in the tank for the next 4 Marathons!
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
Finishing along the main street at Sparta, getting over the mountain and the comradeship of the team and the participants. The race is iconic.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The sick feeling you get at some point in the race, those negative thoughts, and having to stay mentally tough to complete the race.
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
This year I will do the main block from August through to a week before the race and then rest. Try to run with a few extra clothes to get used to running and managing the heat.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race?
Yes , it will be Martin Ilott again . Martin is an old hand at the Spartathlon finishing 6 times out of 10 , and having run more Ultras than is good for you. He is also a dab hand at photos and posting them on face book throughout the race and makes an exceptionally good coffee. Positive, practical, sarcastic and firm is a good description of Martin’s support style.