In our new Q&A feature we focus this week on our man in the Welsh mountains, Russell Bentley, fell runner and current Snowdonia Marathon (Marathon Eryri) champ. He talked to Dan about his recent extraordinary attempt to stay motivated (spoiler alert, he didn’t just go for a jog round the block).
Kent AC’s man in the hills, Russell Bentley, completed the notorious winter Paddy Buckley Round in an epic 22:45, setting off last Tuesday at 4:00am. The Paddy Buckley Round takes in much of the Snowdonia National Park, covering over 62 miles and 47 summits on the way and is widely regarded as the tougher brother of its English equivalent, the Bob Graham Round.
We caught up with Russell to more about the challenge.
Fewer than 10 people have ever completed the Paddy Buckley round in the winter, what made you target a winter round having already attempted the round in the summer?
I needed something to focus on to stop me getting out of shape and miserable (the two go together). I was intimidated by the winter round, which was why I wanted to try it. Scary, but exciting enough to get me out of bed on the cold, dark, rainy mornings we all know and love here in the UK.
Running so much of the 62 miles in the dark, what bit do you find the hardest?
The last leg was very difficult, I was going increasingly blind. The concentration necessary was exhausting. I had to quickly accept that I wasn’t going to get the record and this was the new reality.
You ran the round solo and unsupported, how did you manage to keep yourself fuelled for almost 23 hours?
I had a strategy of 2 gels on the hour every hour, plus a small chocolate bar (half a Duo). I hated hated HATED this part. The hours started coming round so fast. I couldn’t believe every time I had to eat again already. Still makes me want to heave. I gave up on the chocolate bars. I don’t know how people do it. Yuck!
It was a fantastic effort that even had the current winter record holder, Damian Hall, worried at some points. But what’s next after that mammoth effort?
You’re right. It was a fantastic effort. You know, when you have achieved everything that I have in this sport, it gets harder to find new challenges. Maybe I would like to complete the ‘Big Three’ rounds and run between them. Then do the world’s most boring documentary on it. I would also like to be able to do a backflip.
Read Russell’s fantastic blog here.
Twitter feed is often an inspiriation, too: @russell_runner