Friday, 7 December 2012

Mimi Anderson: Female Ultra Performance of the Year

Mimi Anderson: Female Ultra Performance of the Year

Mimi Anderson was crowned the winner of the 2012 Performance of the year with an incredible fastest known time (FKT) crossing Ireland on foot. You can read her account of her run here. It’s fair to say this is not her only run of 2012! Far from it, you have to read her blog to believe it!

Q: Before diving in, I have to ask about last month’s Piece of String race with Centurion Running. From a spectators point of view it looked brutal! The conditions were horrendous and what most didn’t realise was that you was effectively orienteering, is that right? All you guys looked thoroughly tested, how much did the ‘not knowing’ end up playing on your psychological state?

M: The weather for the first night wasn’t too bad, (we started at midnight on Friday 23rd) but it was cold.  The following morning the rain and wind set in and got steady worse as the day went on.  For me not knowing the distance didn’t worry me too much, I actually tried not to think about it, as long as it was less than 3,200 miles then I should be ok!! 
Being a fairly organised person when it comes to races I did find the lack of being able to plan difficult, not just with what to bring (in the end I brought everything including the kitchen sink!) but how to race as it could have been any distance from 100m upwards.  Usually you have an idea of the pace you need to run at to achieve your goals, this one we had no idea.  My plan was to go out at a steady and comfortable pace and see what happened.
It was a tough event made even tougher by the navigation or orienteering that I wasn’t expecting to that degree.  All of us got lost several times which added to the frustration and also meant that we had to stop to check maps which in turn made us cold and a lot of the stretches on some sections weren’t runnable due to the extreme mud (a hippo would have felt at home!) However the weather was extreme and the Thames was flooded which made it a nightmare for the RD’s who had to re-arrange a lot of the routes.  Would I enter again, yes without question, even though I didn’t finish this time I was happy with my performance and enjoyed the challenge.

Q. Epic, and glad to see you would enter again as I would love to see this race grow. Ok so, crossing of Ireland- first of all what drew you to doing this and how long had you been planning it?

What draws me to doing this type of event is the challenge of the distance, trying to beat a time and running somewhere different, what better way to see a country, I love it.   As I hold the Female WR for running from John O’Groats to Lands End it was another incentive to try and be the first person (I believe) to hold both End-to-End records at the same time. (male or female.  The WR is still being verified by the GWR)
The planning for M2M started in July 2011 (although I had been thinking about it for a few years).  My crew and myself were enjoying breakfast after my Double Badwater and chatting about what we should do next.  I told them I wanted to go for the M2M World Record aiming for a time of 3.5 days – thankfully they didn’t think I was mad!

Q. Haha great so after 270 miles of Badwater it took until breakfast before you asked ‘what next’ brilliant, it normally takes me a month! Total time was 87 hours and 36minutes? How much rest did you take throughout the journey?

During the day I had very little rest, I would eat as I ran/walked and if I stopped at the van it was to have a pit stop or grab a quick coffee but this would be no longer than 5 minutes maximum.  From the 2nd day I had a 10-minute break at about 50ish miles this was used to eat while I had a massage on my legs. I had target distances for each day before I was allowed to sleep, so for example on day 1 I had to run 110 miles, I then had a 2 hour break 90 minutes of which was sleeping the rest eating and getting ready to go back out again.  My crew were very strict and always kicked me out of the door on time.  In total I had 5 hours sleep (on the 3rd day I was allowed a 2 hour kip) Luckily for me I go to sleep instantly and am wide-awake 90 minutes later feeling as though I’ve had a good nights sleep.

Q. If you couldn’t pick yourself, who would you choose as this year’s Female performance of the year?

I would have chosen Jennifer Bradley.  Her run across America on trails was quite fantastic and she was the first female to have done this.  To run the distances she ran day after day is tough not just physically but also mentally keeping yourself going when things start to hurt.  An outstanding performance.

Q. It’s fair to say that if we had a performance of the year poll every year then you would always be a contender. You always seem to do something epic and I know you have two epic doubles lined up next year. Tell us about those and what are your expectations of them?

The first double will be the GUCR, myself and James Adams will start on Thursday afternoon and run from Little Venice to Birmingham, have a few hours sleep then turn round and run the race with the other runners.  The run from London to Birmingham has to be done within the 45-hour time limit, replicating the race.  We will have support crew for both ways, but again we have to stick to the rules of the race on the return journey.  My aim is to run both ways as best/fast as I can and being as competitive as I can in the actual race.  I will have a plan as I find this easier when I get slightly behind where I want to be and its much easier for the crew who are supporting you - total distance 290 miles.
The second double (again James and myself) is the Spartathlon (153 miles in 36 hours).  This time however we will run the Spartathlon first then if all goes well turn round and run back to Athens from Sparta.  This even is extremely tough the drop out rate is high so even running the race is a tough call. 
The Spartathlon is a race you have to run on your own, it has to be your race no one elses.  There are cut-offs at every CP; the marathon distance has to be done in under 4.30hrs and the 50-mile distance in 9.30 hrs.  On completion (fingers crossed) of the actual race we will sleep then do the return journey together, again within the 36-hour cut-off – total distance 303 miles.
I do enjoy doing things that are slightly different and am always looking for ways to push the limits that little bit more and I feel that both these events will do that.

Q. Crikey dare I ask what you have planned beyond 2013?

I have a HUGE event in the planning for 2014, but until everything is sorted mums the word!!

I am extremely intrigued, guess I’ll have to be checking your blog weekly from now on!
Quick fire questions-
1.   Favourite race in the UK
The Viking Way Ultra- 147 miles non-stop, distances between CPs 15 – 20 miles, minimal food at CP’s , 40 hour cut-off.
(And the Brecon Beacons Ultra for being such a beautiful, relaxed and friendly event.)

2. If you could only race one more time, what would you choose
Run round the World

3. Non-running item you can’t live without
My Husband.  I know he’s not an item but I can’t think of anything else I couldn’t live without!

4. Favourite running item
Difficult one, but I would have to say my BUFF’s they are pink and have a multitude of uses.  I use them for all my training sessions and races either as a bandana to keep my hair off my face, round my neck to keep warm or wrapped around my wrist to wipe the sweat away.  They can protect you in a sand storm, against midges, keep your neck warm in the Arctic and importantly can be used as a boob-tube or mini skirt while racing in the Kalahari – extremely versatile bit of kit.
I also have a small broach which goes with me on every race pinned to the inside of my crop-top.

5. Biggest Running inspiration
I knew nothing about running when I started, didn’t even realised people ran outside (can you believe that!!!)  For me the biggest inspiration has been all the other amazing runners I have met over the years, their strength, determination, love of running and advice has inspired me to dig deeper, aim for the sky and hopefully in return I can share my experience/knowledge with other runners.

6. Favourite Training session
Long run with a friend

Q. Finally, one little nugget of Mimi Anderson advice for all Ultra Runners?

Be sensible with your training, its not all about distances covered in a week, the saying “quality not quantity” is very true.  Put your training sessions into your diary that way they are part of your weekly commitments and remember to have rest weeks to give your body time to recover!  First and foremost enjoy your running and listen to your body - how lucky are we to be able to pop a pair of trainers on and take ourselves off for a run?

Mimi Anderson has a brilliant website with lots of content about past and future runs, it provides a phenomenal insight to just what makes this talented lady tick.

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