So Ross, congratulations on winning this year’s Hell Down South! What time did you do it in?
Thanks. I completed Hell Down South in 1:18:04 this year, which was 26 seconds faster than I had completed it in 2014. I moved from third place to first place during the beautifully named ‘Bog of Doom’ and just managed to hold onto this position for the remaining few miles.
What other running do you do?
I compete most weekends in Obstacle Course Races across the UK, and sometimes further afield. My race team, inov-8 OCR, are often placed in the top few places in these events. I also compete at Ironman and 70.3 distance in triathlon, which may have helped me get through the Bog of Doom slightly faster than others!?
Did you train specifically for HellRunner?
My weekly training involves a lot of cycling, swimming and running. For HellRunner it is the running intervals, hill repetitions and circuit training which really help over a course such as this. My training with British Military Fitness, which involves a lot of squats and core work, really helps.
For a first time participant HellRunner, what would you advise them to expect?
Although it is a tough course, everything at HellRunner is manageable. Expect a lot of hills, many of which are technical. It is a tough course but it is also a lot of fun and the marshals are always brilliant at HellRunner.
And what clothes & shoes are appropriate?
Much of the course at HellRunner is loose stone, mud or sand and so a decent pair of footwear is needed. I wear the inov-8 x-talon 200’s which were great. As you are also crossing two (sometimes frozen) lakes make sure you have some decent compression and thermal wear on. I opt for 2XU compression wear, a merino wool top and then my race vest.
What would be the best way they could get in shape for an event such as HellRunner?
HellRunner has a lot of short, steep climbs on mud and loose gravel. Get yourself running off road and practice running up some hills!
For someone who has run it before, what advice would you give them to beat their previous time?
HellRunner hills sap a lot of energy so just pace yourself, save some energy for the last few miles, and that will help you beat your previous times. In addition, work the hills and have confidence running downhill.
What did you have to eat the morning before Hell Down South?
Providing I am awake three hours before running I always have a bowl of porridge with banana and cinnamon. It is like a pre-race ritual now, that I don’t like to change.
How was your recovery?
I actually bruised my knee quite badly at the race this year as I jumped into the frozen lake. The ice took a chunk of my knee off and this stopped me running for a week. This shouldn’t put anyone off though as apart from for the leader, there is a clear path through the ice for everyone to follow. I was actually handed a stick as I jumped into the lake which I soon discovered was really needed!
Are you entering any other HellRunner events with a view of winning them?
I like the sound of Hell in the Chilts, which is in September. Of course, if I am entered, I will plan to win them!
What’s next in your running life?
Triathlon or obstacle-course races pretty much every weekend! I have London Marathon to prepare for where I am hoping to break the 2:35 hr mark and I am also training for the OCR World Championships, which are in the US in October.
Many thanks, Ross, and good luck!