Trails and Mountains – A Chat With James Stewart

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That is one happy lookin runner!

James Stewart, a 42-year-old runner from Croy, Scotland, started running many years ago but always at a purely recreational level. In 2014 James ran his first ultra and was hooked and decided to explore just what he could achieve. Now dawning both a team Scotland and team GB vest in the world stage 24-hour running event and winning the notorious West Highland Way race in Scotland… he is a force to be reckoned with and a strong competitive runner.
Just a few HIGHLIGHTS:
– JULY-15: CLYDE STRIDE 40, 1ST PLACE IN 4:38 – NEW COURSE RECORD
– SEPT-15: GLENMORE 24, 1ST PLACE WITH 144.2 MILES – NEW COURSE RECORD
– NOV-15: GLEN OGLE 33, 3RD PLACE IN 3:46
– MAR-15: ANGLO CELTIC PLATE 100K, 8TH OVERALL IN 7:46 AND BRONZE MEDAL IN SCOTTISH 100K CHAMPIONSHIPS
– MAY-16: GLEN LYON ULTRA, 1ST PLACE IN 3:55 – FIRST RUNNING OF THE RACE
– JUN-16: WEST HIGHLAND WAY RACE, 1ST PLACE IN 15:15:59
-May 18: EUROPEAN 24HOUR EVENT, RUNNING FOR TEAM GB, SILVER

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Forever Smiling!

Where did it all start?
I’d pottered about with running for years, doing a few marathons. Then in 2011, after having put on a fair few stone (almost 70lbs heavier than I am now) I decided to get serious and try to get fit; and at the same time I found ultrarunning.

 

What gives you that drive?
Running is an integral part of my life. It offers challenge and escapism. I practice mindful running when I am out a few times a week and it also helps me stay healthy. It is starting to influence the choices my kids make too, in a positive way.When I started to look at running properly back in 2011, I set myself the challenge of beating all my PBs up to marathon distance in 2012, just a personal goal. The reality is I wanted to lose weight as I was ridiculously heavy and out of shape. The times were pretty modest in relative terms; we are talking 3:43 marathon, 1:36 half, etc., but I’d never been racing fit. After a successful 2012 I started to get the bug and found ultra running. I had a disastrous DNF (did not finish) at my first ultra but enjoyed the experience loads.
Ultra running is like a way of life. An attitude. A spirit. And I was drawn to it. I trained harder, became more engaged in the sport, improved my diet and condition. After a while I become competitive; not winning but towards the top ten / top five. And this is how the story goes. There wasn’t one epiphany moment where I decided I would be such and such. It was an evolutionary process of me as a person and runner. Before I knew I was working with a coach and aiming to win ultras, which is pretty much what 2015 was about.Since then I have been lucky enough to pull on Scotland and GB vests. Win a couple of decent races and get better despite getting older.What keeps me going? I guess two things, 1) I am doing something I really love and enjoy – that makes motivation very easy to come by, and 2) this is fueled by the fact I am enjoying exploring the limits of my potential.
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24 hour world Champs!

Favorite distance? 

100 milers are my favorite… It’s epic! The 24-hour event comes a close second though.

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West Highland Way Race! 🙂

Favorite surface to run on? 

I am quite happy on all surfaces; it’s the act of running that I enjoy most. That said, if I had to choose it would be trail. I run hills, flat, trail, track, and tarmac and from 50k to 160 miles… just not that mountain sh*t, I am scared of heights. I see 100 mile+ races on varied (but runnable) trail as my preferred place to be.

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The future champ!
Favourite running route?
Anywhere in and around Croy Hill where the Antonine Trail Races take place.
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What has been your best event to date?
It’s a hard one to choose from. I think my best experience was the West Highland Way in 2016. It was a great day out and such fine weather that we got to see Scotland at its best.
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Team GB!
Have you got a go-to running shoe?
HOKA. I love the support and stability of them. Of course, being an ambassador for them means I get to try lots of pairs. For trails the Challenger 4’s are amazing and I wore the Elevon shoe at the recent 24 hour European Championships and they were frankly amazing.

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Tell us about the European 24 hour championships!

The European 24H champion is an International Association of Ultrarunners event, and this was the 22nd running of it. Dan Lawson (GB) was the defending champ. It features the best runners from all over Europe. The primary aim is team medals and the 3 best cumulative distances count. GB men came 2nd to the French, and ahead of the Germans. The women’s team, despite only 3 starters, took bronze. Poland were the winners with Germany 2nd.
I finished 11th overall with 244.4km despite a period of 3 hours overnight where I fell ill and was sick for a few hours. I’d dropped to 32nd during this time. I was agonizingly just 210 meters from 10th and was finishing faster than anyone else in the field. I was really pleased with how I recovered and know I can ran quite a bit further.

Is there anything you couldn’t run without?

 A smile.

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Your go-to post-run treat?

After a long run I love some eggs and potato scones. 

What does the future hold for James Stewart?

Unknown at this stage. I don’t have any ultras booked in. I decided to have no distractions in the future and it helped. There are so many events on my bucket list it’s hard to know where to start. Fitting them all in is the problem!

James is without a doubt a highly motivational and inspirational runner. He has a relentless drive and an endless smile that makes him the incredible runner he is today. To keep up to date with James’s shenanigans, CLICK HERE FOR HIS INSTAGRAM.

 

Love – Live – Run and get out and hit the trails!

Thank you for reading!

Follow my progress on Instagram – @loveliverunuk

Check out our Facebook events – facebook.com/loveliverun

#loveliverun #improveyourrun #trailrunning

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