Ben Wood came to our attention by finishing 2nd in his first ultra - the Mendip Marauder 30 Miler in August 2016. We saw his potential and anticipate some fantastic results for him in 2017. Find out more about Ben below......
1. How did you get into running? Did you have a huge natural talent for it or have you been working your way up from further back in the pack?
I only started running seriously this year. My sporting background before this was Thai boxing in which I had 19 professional bouts. I hung my gloves up after my last fight in Nov 2015, I wanted, I needed something different.
I served in the Royal Marines and during this time I had a natural affinity with long distance running. I was always at the front of the pack in our training runs. I had always wondered if perhaps I was genetically gifted to be a runner rather than a fighter. So April this year I started running and bought a training book. The Hanson method. A few weeks later I entered a 10km race and got second place, I have to stress this was NOT a big race and I finished in 40:13. Still I was happy, exhausted and I had the running bug.
2. What is the race you're most proud of so far and can you tell us a bit about it?
The race I'm most proud of would definitely be the Mendip Marauder 30 miler. Before this race the furthest I had run was a half marathon. I had read Scott Jurek's book 'Eat and Run' and decided that I should be an Ultra runner!
I talked my brother and father into being my support crew and literally had no idea what to expect. I was feeling slightly out of my depth looking at all the other runners but I was determined to give it my best shot. I followed the pack for the first half hour, and we all got lost after two miles in. After this I started pacing with other runners chatting and enjoying the countryside. Soon I was running on my own, at the aid stations I was pretty shocked to learn I was in the lead group. I got woefully lost at one point, and added two miles on to my route, however I somehow finished in second place. I couldn't believe it.
3. Why did you want to run for Albion Running?
After e mailing and thanking them for such a great experience I was told that second place was pretty amazing, especially as the furthest I had raced before was a half marathon. I said about my sporting background and was told I might have what it takes to become a good Ultra runner. I have to confess I was (and still am) pretty surprised, honoured and a little embarrassed at such praise.
Albion told me they were looking to have a people running for them and asked if it would be something that would interest me? Yes, it was definitely something that would interest me.
4. What kind of weekly mileage do you do in training? Do you do much in the way of cross training?
My weekly mileage isn't that high. I have been reading as much as I can on running, as many books as I can get through. I find (at the moment) fifty miles is the most my body can put up with. I do one long run on the weekend between 15-20 miles, and try to get a 10-12 miler in mid week. The rest is made up of 6-8 mile training runs, on trail as much as my surroundings allow me. When I started training I was following 10km and half marathon programmes and doing speed work on the track. I now focus on longer base runs on trails. As my body adapts more to the mileage I will be pushing this up.
I work in a gym as a personal trainer so I can cross train very easily, I do one strength session a week using weighted lifts and one circuit training session trying to target mainly my legs and core, as I get near races I cut back on these to allow for more runs. Part of my job involves boxing with my clients so I guess I can include that as cross training!
5. What are your big running ambitions for next year and for the future?
Next year I'm looking forward to running in the Ham and Lyme 50km, especially as I will be wearing an Albion vest! It's a great honour to have someone believe in me at such an early stage and I want to represent Albion running well.
My next race is the coastal trail series in Dorset, it's on coastal paths and I just completed the Jurassic coast challenge in Cornwall which was three marathons in three days on coastal paths, hopefully this will have helped!
6. Are there any other runners out there who particularly inspire you?
I read Scott Jurek’s autobiography and this really inspired me to try Ultra running. He wasn't that fast a runner to begin with but he has risen to the top by pure grit and determination, I take some solace in this.
7. What shoes do you run in? Why are they your favourite?
I still run in the same pair of shoes I bought in April this year, Brooks free flow 5, they are light and flat. However, I will need to replace them soon as they are sporting a few holes in the upper. Also the Jurassic coast taught me how useful toe guards are.....
8. If you could get a free pass into one race in the world next year, all expenses paid, what would it be?
I would love to run the OCC...... For now.
9. Do you have any tips for anyone out there who is wanting to improve their running and start challenging for the win/top 3/top 10 in races?
I have to stress how new to running I am. However, as someone who has competed in sport before, and earned a green beret, I cannot stress enough how important consistency is in training. Remember even a 1 miler is better than a no miler.
One thing that has helped my running is to slow down to allow myself to run longer distances, it also allows me to enjoy the ride.
10. Do you have any amusing anecdotes about anything that you've seen/experienced in a race?
When I was approaching the finish line in the Mendip Marauder, Clare Prosser was just walking back after finishing her 50 miler; I believe she won.
As I was running past I stopped to shake her hand and she shouted at me not to stop and to get to the finish line! I think she must have thought I was a bit of a wally!
IN 2017 BEN's RACES WILL INCLUDE THE EPIC JURASSIC COAST ONER, AS WELL AS HAM & LYME 50k (FULL RACE CALENDAR COMING SOON)