I feel like I am cheating a bit on this one, because I know Lorna really well and she is one of my most favourite people. I met her through the wonderful Bad Boy Running community and she has crewed me on a number of really important races – putting up with my shit throughout my Devon Coast to Coast attempt, going on recces with me multiple times, driving me, looking after me and pacing me on the SDW100 last year. She’s also the club secretary for the Bad Boy Running Club (you should all join - regards ‘The Chairman’ aka me). She is extraordinarily organised, kind and brilliant. I bloody love her. Top fact about Lorna. She used to have this running visor that my friend Lee stole from her and took to America for “an adventure”. Since then I have had that visor and it has been all across the world on adventures with me - I wore it in Panama, Namibia, Spain, Malta, Table Mountain and on a couple 100 mile races and ultras. It’s been on a BIG OLD ADVENTURE and she still doesn’t have it back. That visor is now named “The Spayne Visor”. You can sometimes hear her shout ‘THAT’S MY VISOR’ at her computer when pictures of its adventures pop up. It will be coming to Scotland, obvs…..
“I have always been interested in the Hebrides, having read a lot of books set there, plus I have spent much of this summer hiking and camping on Dartmoor, so the challenge came up at the perfect time for me and I didn’t think twice about it” explains Lorna.
“I have been running on and off since I was a teenager but I’ve been more serious about long distance running for over six years now. I have done loads of events across the world, from fast road marathons right through to 70 mile trail ultras, but I’ve never done a multi-day event like this.”
Lorna is a bit of a beast, having come second lady at The Wall in 2018 and winning a good few trail marathons previous to that. Her husband Dom is a ridiculously fast marathon runner, so running is something that erm…runs in the family. This means she understands not only what it is to really push through long, difficult events, but what it is to support people doing them as well.
“I’ve spent a lot of time pacing and crewing my friends on their ultra or multi-day endeavours, which has given me invaluable insight into what it takes to complete long distance events” says Lorna. “From constant psychology battles right down to the basics of good admin and kit management, I feel like I’ve seen it all.” She’s right. She’s one of the only people to have seen me go full melt down in the middle of a race, and pulled me out the other side.
Lorna has always had an adventurous streak in her. “I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like I’ve been held back from doing things like this” she says. “I’ve always really enjoyed using running as a way of exploring new places. For that reason the Rat Race Bucket List events have really interested me, and although money can sometimes be a barrier, if it’s something you really want to do then you just make it work! To be honest I haven’t really wanted to do something of this scale before. However, in the last two years I’ve found my focus shifting from fast road marathons to being out in the countryside running longer distances, which has given me the experience and knowledge to consider something bigger, like this challenge.”
Despite her previous experience, this challenge is a totally different ball game for Lorna. “It would mean a huge amount to me to be able to complete this route, because as the challenge gets longer, it brings more variables, like terrain, weather and distance so the odds of finishing decrease. I’ve struggled with injury over the past year, but it wouldn’t be worth doing if there wasn’t the chance of failing. Just entering an event like this means more to me than finishing it, because it represents a complete change in my relationship with running over the past few years. I’m going to take it one day at a time, immerse myself in the challenge and the beautiful scenery, and just be grateful for the opportunity.”
With running erm…running in the family, Lorna is a bit of a training monster. “I have always trained really hard, putting in lots of long runs and high mileage weeks, because this not only makes you a strong runner but it gives you confidence when the running gets tough. However, being mentally tough is a large part of long distance running as there’s only so much you can do to prepare yourself physically for long ultras or multi-day events and then you have to be stubborn and not let yourself stop. To help my mental state I break the event down, because sometimes the sheer volume of miles or hours left can be crippling. I will often just take it one mile at a time, or just focus on upcoming landmarks like trees or aid stations, and I’ll incorporate little ‘rules’ to help with my run/walk strategy.”
“When it gets really tough I remind myself that the current low point will eventually pass if I wait long enough, so I just focus on any form of forward progress. I also recognise that the impending “ultra-strop” is likely from hunger so I just eat something or hunt down anything with caffeine in it, because everyone knows that caffeine makes everything better!”
Lorna is lucky enough to have support from her family, who understand the importance of getting outside, running and spending time with yourself but she still understands that there are barriers to women going out and doing stuff like this.
“First and foremost, I think you have to decide whether this is something you really want to do, because I think people are exposed to so many events nowadays that it is far too easy to just click ‘interested’ on Facebook and then make up excuses. If you do really want to do it then you need to be honest with yourself in recognising how important it is for you and communicating that to other people.”
“Everyone has their own laundry list of excuses but we’re all responsible for our own mental and physical wellbeing, and a challenge like this will undoubtedly have huge benefits on all parts of your life. I think you’re more likely to be a better parent if you don’t see your family as a barrier to the things you want to do, you’ll probably enjoy your work more if your mentally refreshed from regular exercise, and you’ll be a better role model to everyone by showing them the importance of controlling your own health and having a positive outlook on life.”
I am super excited to have Lorna on board – it’s like we’re going on a little holiday – a type two one but still….
If you want to be the first to know about future trips or just want to support the stuff that I do via Ultra Awesome, you can subscribe to the Patreon page here