Without a doubt, Robbie is a matchless character in the long-distance running scene. With his distinct down-to-earth style British humor, he certainly is not afraid of an authentic or witty comment. Neither is he afraid of attacking any distance or terrain. 400 meter ovals, asphalt or mountain paths do not stop him. The 28 year old man of Kent appreciates his nomadic lifestyle and loves to race.

After a brave 8:47 hour effort a couple of days ago at the Tarawera 100 kilometer race in New Zealand, Robbie used his well-deserved recovery period to reply to some questions.

Credit: James Appleton

runssel: Why running? What inspires you?

Robbie: I just love to race, be it on a 400m track or around the mountains, competition drives me.

I get inspiration from so many places, people I meet around the world, books about mountaineers, polar explorers and anyone who has faced and overcome a struggle. If you read “The Worst Journey in the World” (edit: A chronicle of the 1910–1913 British Antarctic Expedition led by Robert Falcon Scott) it puts it all into perspective when your legs hurt a little at 85 miles…

Plus, anyone who lives life like Johnston Livingstone Seagull (edit: a tale written by Richard Bach) inspires me.

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: After a solid 26:48 h workday at last year’s UTMB you’ll be back battling this year’s edition. What have you learned and what are you going to change?

Robbie: Well, I went there last year to get a feel for the race and learn about it, as part of a 3 year plan to be competitive out there. If I gave you all the secrets I learnt then I’d have to worry about racing you too!

I learn by making mistakes and thinking about them. Last year at UTMB I got excited and pushed too hard at 130k. I thought “I’m only 30k from the finish” but that’s still a huge distance in the mountains so I paid a price for that. You don’t have to go fast at UTMB, you just have to maintain a good pace throughout!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Why didn’t you duel Michael Wardian in the mile the day after UTMB?

Robbie: Because Wardian is real fast over a mile! Mike’s a great bloke and I had a good chance to chat to him at Tarawera just now. He overtook me at about 95k this time, so I guess it’s 1-1 for us now. I’m definitely not racing him over a mile next time though, the longer the better 🙂

Plus I love my recovery after a big race, sitting on my backside, eating good food, drinking and getting my body & mind ready to train again!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Which competitions are still on your bucket list?

Robbie: Having just ticked the Tarawera 100k off the list it’s got smaller! Western States and Leadville are both on there though, but I want to go when I’m a bit quicker! I may apply for WS next year, it’s top of my list.

Both the North & South Pole are on my bucket list, not racing though. I want to go big with some expeditions, although not for a few years yet.

I suppose the London Marathon is on that list too, as I’m from London but have never run it! One day eh?

runssel: What is the best running shoe you’ve ever worn and why?

Robbie: inov-8 X-Talon 212 without a doubt. It’s light with great grip and I’ve run 100 miles in those bad boys. I know I’m sponsored by inov-8 but it’s a shoe I was running in for ages before they finally gave in to my sponsorship harassment.

Credit: Iznik Ultra

runssel: Running around in circles for 24 hours seem absurd for most people. You seem to love it. This year you are heading to Torino to beat your 239km PB. Describe the thrill!

Robbie: Have you ever not just wondered “How far could I actually run in one day?” You find out just how far, mentally & physically, you can push yourself with as few other factors as possible!

I don’t know if “love it” is the right term though, I love representing my country, I’m intrigued by how far I can go in 24 hours but ask me 18 hours into a race and I definitely won’t use the word love.

You have to look at the positives though, such as the fact you are never more than 200m from your food, friends and a toilet! You can’t get lost on a 24hr race and I get to wear a Team GB vest for the World Champs in April. Such an awesome honor!

Credit: Alexis Berg

runssel: Please give a hint about a typical training week and your favorite session! Any cross training?

Robbie: Typical training week includes key tempo & hill sessions mid-week, followed by a longer run at the weekend. I don’t often run over 2:30 though, you don’t need to run HUGE mileage to run ultras. It’s more about consistently getting fitter & stronger, keeping that speed in the legs and not knackering yourself out.

Before Tarawera I averaged 90-100 miles a week with a fair few hills in there. Hills are important. I love hills.

As for cross training, I try to do some bouldering but don’t go often enough. Core strength is key to a good ultra but neglected by so many, myself included at times.

runssel: Favorite record at the moment?

Robbie: On top of the World by Imagine Dragons. That’s a race day tune, for sure! It’s how your taper should make you feel.

You better trail Robbie via his website, FB and Twitter