Name: Edward Olcot
Occupation: Finance Business Partner
Home Town: Weybridge
What is your running background?
I started running in 2008 after a life of playing football, mountain biking and gym. Over the next three years I ran six city marathons and quite a few half maras, 10k / 5K’s before taking a break from road running and hitting the trails in 2011.
My first trail run was a very hilly half marathon with Endurancelife in Exmoor for the wife’s birthday and I was instantly addicted. I stuck with Endurancelife for the next three years completing their half mara Coastal Trail Series and moving up to marathon then Ultra (34 miles).
I returned to marathons again in 2015 as I wanted to run all the majors and went on to finish Chicago and New York. I thought I had qualified for Boston but 2016 was a popular year for my age group and I eventually lost out by seven seconds. I was gutted and decided to take a break again and look for a new challenge in the form of 100+ mile races.
When did you first start running Ultra marathons and why?
A good friend of mine who I trained with for Paris moved over to the dark side in late 2009 as he was fed up with road running and was intrigued with the ultra trail running scene. At the time, 26.2 miles was more than enough for me and when he was training for Centurion events and GUCR I thought he was a nutter!
It was only when I was running the Coastal Paths in 2011 that I understood what the appeal was. Technical terrain, beautiful scenery and a much friendlier and more social crowd. My first official ultra was the Country to Capital 45 miler in 2013 where I got to marathon distance then had no idea what to do next. I was used to non stop running so walking usually meant race over. I remember focussing on running to a bridge then walking for
a bit then repeat. The best part was eating cake at the check points.
When or where (at which events) are we most likely to see you?
Centurion Running events, along the Thames Path between Weybridge and Richmond and somewhere in the Surrey Hills
What are your personal key running achievements to date?
I am nowhere fast enough for a podium finish but over the past few years I have completed some of the top ultra races on the calendar – GUCR x2, Tors des Geants, UTMB and the Montane Spine Race.
What was your hardest experience?
Tors des Geants 2021. This was my first multi day event and third time in the Alps. For UTMB, I trained at the Altitude Centre in London and ran in the Lake District / Snowdonia. However, due to the pandemic, I did most of my training on the mole hills of Surrey. Motivation was also low as Italy had covid travel restrictions in place and I was half expecting not being able to take part. I only got the green light four weeks prior to the event.
Due to the lack of specific training, I struggled with shortness of breath at altitude, smashed quads and sleep deprivation (around 10 hrs of sleep during the six days) but I got there in the end. Mentally, I feel this has prepared me for the Sparta challenge ahead.
What is your typical race strategy for an ultra?
I usually adopt a run/ walk strategy from two hrs in and try to stick to it for the most part hanging on at the end. Fuel up as often as I can and no hanging around for too long at the check points. Tailwind, Mountain Fuel and the dreaded gels are my main choice of sustenance, eating proper food whenever I get the opportunity.
What does a typical training week look like?
During my first few years of running I would try and run five to six times a week (50-80 miles) but found I spent a lot of time on the physio table. Since running ultras, I have concentrated on building up to a big race then maintaining the fitness by entering another race in quick succession. I found this has allowed me to concentrate on the quality of runs rather than quantity. Typical week – one long run, faster run (x2 at peak), RR and Easy. The long run will be either hilly trail or flat tarmac around 20-35 miles.
What one tip would you pass onto people running an Ultra marathon for the first time?
Never look too far ahead. Concentrate on getting to the next checkpoint and don’t think about the distance you still have to travel. Fuel regularly and try to enjoy it. If you are feeling a bit ropey it will usually pass. Just slow down and eat / drink and keep moving.
Tell us one interesting fact about you?
I was a hardcore raver in the late eighties and early nineties and always consider the long four day weekends dancing in fields a solid foundation for my future ultra running exploits. I may have been at one of Bryn’s sets at some point so looking forward to chatting to him about the good old days!
Have you taken part in the Spartathlon before?
Where did you get your qualifier for Spartathlon:
What tip would you pass on to those taking part for the first time?
What are you looking forward to at the Spartathlon race?
I definitely prefer the trails but I have heard so many good things about this race. The history, team spirit and camaraderie, the Sparta supporters both locals and crews and the fantastic organisation. Ultimately, it must be finishing and kissing the foot of Leonidas.
What are you not looking forward to during the Spartathlon race?
The tight cut offs. I can definitely cover the distance, but can I do it at the required tempo?
And, I have been reading a lot about the stray dog’s issue (thanks Simen!). I did not realise this was a thing. On the trails, I have had a few close shaves with charging cows and have spent many a training run climbing over barb wire fences or detouring a mile or so to avoid them. For some reason, animals don’t seem to like me much!
How will you prepare specifically for the Spartathlon race?
I have been building up to this race for a few years so mentally I feel ready. My GUCR result in June has given me the confidence that I may be able to finish. Since then, consistent mileage and focus on speedier runs to tackle the cut offs. The mini heatwave in the UK has also helped.
Will you be bringing any support crew to the race? (If so, please introduce them briefly)
Unfortunately, not. My wife usually comes along to support but we have two young children who will be in school. It has been tough on the family over the past few years as I have been lucky in the ballots and seem to jump from one big race to the next. Hopefully, I can finish Sparta and head off to Disneyland for a non-running holiday.