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