Neil Laird

Name: Neil Laird

Town: Saffron Walden

I got into running relatively late; despite playing numerous sports in my younger years the concept of “just going for a run” didn’t exist. But as the team sports dwindled running seemed like the obvious next step to maintain some degree of fitness. Casual 5km runs squeezed into lunch breaks gradually morphed into 10km races at the weekend and I’ve not really looked back since. Up until the last couple of years there’s never been any structure to my running; no set training plan, no real goals; just a get out there and see what happens approach. That changed a little bit in the last 12 months as I took the plunge to jump from a previous longest race of 15 miles to complete a 30 mile Ultra. And it looks like these distances are here to stay!

I feel completely at home on the trails but I fell into trail running by default. Living in rural Essex meant that invariably many of the races I entered were off-road and, having enjoyed those experiences, trail running has become my focus. I’m lucky to have amazing local trails on my doorstep the majority of which I didn’t even know existed until I got out and started exploring. The beauty of trail running is you get to experience the environment from angles and views you don’t ordinarily see. Add to that the sheer mix of trails and terrain, and seeing how they and the surrounding landscape change throughout the seasons, means even well-trodden routes provide variety to my runs.

Since my first Ultra, I’ve experienced being chewed up and spat out by the Jurassic Coast (my first DNF; proof that you can’t shortcut training!), I’ve another 50km race planned and I am aiming to run the Boudicca Way (36 miles). Despite these distances, I’m smugly proud of the fact that I’ve never actually run an ‘official’ marathon!

Instagram link: @where.the.trails.go

Martin Evans

Hometown: Newton

I started running years ago, only for a short period. Struggled to complete a 5k, slowly improved then just kinda stopped, running wasn’t my thing. Started again in Jan 2020, mainly to improve fitness for my work medical – not that I needed to to pass, but just to be better. Slowly improved and managed a 5K. Pretty pleased I continued, although back then I really didn’t enjoy and ran to finish quickly rather than distance. I was running too fast and that’s not the right way. Slowly adapted my running, achieving a distance rather than time – run slower to become faster… i know!
I progressed, have met some great people on Insta that have helped and inspired. Completed in virtual Ironman club (defo not ironman distances!!! ) enjoyed those and did reasonable well, but its self improvement as someone will always be better than you.
Followed a 10k training plan and managed a good 10k so was really pleased with that. MIx my running with trails, which is preferable tbh – surface and scenery and you can have a little walk lol while admiring the views. Suffered runners knee in august…year after breaking my collar bone :-/ A set back, but physio and i’m almost back.
I have ideas of Triathlon so working towards that.

Instagram: @marty.cycles.runs

Linda Wright

After been a self confessed couch potato pretty much all of my adult life! I had a lightbulb moment age 38 to start running! I mean I didn’t really know what it entailed apart from wearing trainers and moving a bit faster than walking! One evening in May 2013 my running journey began. After the initial 6 week trail period and when I could run a mile without stopping I was hooked! I entered GNR to raise money for charity in 2014 which was the most awesome experience ever! I then moved into London Marathon the following year and that’s were my passion for long distance running began. Since then I have completed 14 marathons and 1 ultra marathon both a mix of road and trail runs. Roll on 8 years later it’s part of my life and running gives me so much and I have met amazing people who now I call friends. I love to travel and one of my favorite trail marathons is a white star running event at Larmer Tree Gardens and amazing course and was also the venue for our wedding in 2012!
With a mix of local trail runs which I do every year which are always 26 miles plus! The. Freedom of trail running and the no ego that comes with it makes the run an awesome experience
Instagram: @Marathon_girl2015
Strava link: Linda Wright @marathon_girl2015

Jack Chennell

Jack Chennell

BORN: 25/05/1991
HOMETOWN: Northamptonshire
DISCIPLINE: Ultra / Trail

I was a late starter in to the world of running, when a succession of Rugby related injuries led me to call it a day on my childhood sport.
In search of something to keep me fit, I discovered Parkrun in 2015.

After a couple of years of irregular running I was introduced to my local club, from there my interest in the sport really started to ramp up.

It didn’t take long before I was hooked and began to take training and competition a lot more seriously.
10k’s led to Half Marathons, and before I knew it I was running my first Marathon in 2017, with a finishing time of 02:58. This was my ticket into the London Marathon the following year!
My time of 02:41 in 2018 secured me a position on the British Championship start line in 2019 where I went on to run my fastest Marathon time of 02:37.

As much as I was enjoying road racing and running fast, it has only been in recent years that I have discovered a love for Trail and Ultra running.
After getting involved with a few local, low key Ultra events, it was clear that I had found my forte.
In the summer of 2019 I was running my first 100km race at the Stour Valley Path 100 and finishing 2nd in 09:39. Other stand out performances include wins at Equinox24 as a team and a pair in successive years, and also 1st place finish in the Wychavon Way Ultra at the beginning of 2020.

With very few events taking place in recent times, virtual races have kept me focused and given me reason to keep training hard. Most recently completing 50 miles in under 6 hours and 80 miles in a 12 hour virtual event has given me the confidence that I will maintain my form once live racing resumes.

Going forward I look forward to purely focusing all I do on Trails / Ultras and already have my sights on some big races in the near future.

Follow on Instagram: @ultra_trail_JC

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