chris cowley

C8AE823B-395D-4FC0-B7F6-63E2E5E105E5 2.jpeg

I ran cross country at school and loved it, but my childhood running never really went any further than that. My dad has always run, so I guess I’ve always been around “running”, but I didn’t properly get into it myself until after university. I loved getting out into the hills and spending hours on end, miles from anywhere. I was also out of shape, so trail running seemed to be the natural solution. I had read about ultra distance running and thought it sounded great. I love a big journey, and needed to get involved in this scene!

My first race as a semi-fit adult was the Lairig Ghru race in 2014. It’s just shy of 27 miles, and runs through the infamous Cairngorms valley; it broke me and I loved it. From there, I ran some multi-day mountain marathon events, and some short ultra races in Scotland before progressing to the 2016 West Highland Way Race. In 2017 I took on Paul as a coach who has really developed me as a runner and made me far stronger than I was previously, and my performances have reflected this.

I tend to say my strength in running is non-technical undulating trail as this is what I typically train on for my long runs, however, nothing beats a remote single track with my springer spaniel, DeeDee!

My “breakthrough” performance was third place at the Hardmoors 110 mile race in 2017. It’s the only race I’ve ever done where I outperformed my race plan. I put this down to not quite appreciating how much Paul had brought me on since he started coaching me. As of 2019, my time is still the third fastest ever on this race. I also became somewhat Hardmoors-obsessed since this race, and have since gone back to win the Hardmoors 160 mile and Hardmoors 200 mile races in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Outside of the Hardmoors events, I am most proud of my second place at Glenmore 24 in 2018; after emptying my stomach at 30 miles and failing to eat pretty much anything for the remaining 100 miles, this race taught me a lot about resilience!

I’m racing UTMB in August, so need to get training more in the hills. I am seriously considering a 24 hour track race in the year ahead, and maybe some different 100 mile+ trail races