Ultra Tom

OCTOBER 2019: Tom Evans (Lewes AC) has been selected to represent Team GB, this November, at the World Mountain Running Championships in Argentina.

This is Tom’s second big target race of the year; in June, he competed in his first ever 100-miler, the incredibly challenging Western States 100 in the U.S.

Not only did he earn himself a bronze medal in the 100-miler, he smashed the record for the fastest overseas time, clocking 14hrs 59mins.

Tom, congratulations on GB selection. What does this mean to you and how are you looking forward to the trip to South America?

Thanks very much Mike. It’s always an honor to be selected to run for your country and this time is no different. I have been working very hard with my coach, Allison Benton, and the AB Training group over the last 12 months and this is a big step forward!

Your performance in California was incredible, particularly as it was your debut 100-miler. How important was it that you flew out there a couple of weeks before the race, in order to familiarise yourself with the course, and how would you summarise your experience of the event?

Western States 100 is an iconic race, it was always my dream for it to be my first 100-mile race. Knowing the course is a controllable factor and for me it’s essential that I spend some time on the trail before. My military career taught me that if you know the ground, you can control the outcome… this is something that I have taken forward into my running. The event itself was amazing, such a special race with an amazing atmosphere. It was a seriously tough race and finishing under 15 hours was very special to me.

You’ve clearly had success over a range of distances and terrains, with victories at, for example, the Bright 10, through to the Mont Blanc Ultra. Where do you think your greatest strength lies?

Allison and I have this conversation quite a lot… as trail running is so varied it’s so important to have a large skill set as different races can throw different challenges at you. My next phase of training and racing will be a bit faster, focussing on cross country and up to a ‘fast 100km’.

And what would you say have been the highlight moments of your running so far?

Good question, I’m so happy with results that I have achieved over the last 24 months and they all have a special place in my mind. I think my favorite highlight was winning the CCC at UTMB in 2018!

To what extent do you think the non-running components of your training, such as cross-training and strength & conditioning, help your race preparation?

They play a huge part in my training, both physical and mental. I was recently a little bit injured and used cross training to make sure that my base fitness didn’t drop too much. My S&C is very specific to the races that I’m preparing for. It can really make the difference when the chips are down at the end of a race.

Having competed for the British Army team, I suspect you’ve always been keen on sport and fitness. How did the running begin?

I always enjoyed running as a form to keep fit but my competitive running didn’t start properly till April 2017 where I raced the Marathon des Sables and finished 3rd. This was the start of my journey and I have still got a long way to go!

You’ve been training with Allison Benton’s group for a couple of years. What would you say are the key benefits of being part of such a group?

Being a part of a training group is a very special thing. It makes the bad sessions good and the good sessions great! We have got a very strong bond in the AB group and the runners are going from strength to strength. It’s really exciting to see how far the group has come and Allison has done such an amazing job!

How was your recent experience of training in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia was amazing. It was brutal and a real baptism of fire. The training was very challenging as it was all above 2800m and training with world class marathon runners. I learnt so much as a runner and also as an athlete. It was a great experience, I made lots of life long friends and I’m already looking forward to another trip back.

And how do you switch off from running? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have turned into a very amateur baker over the last 12 months, my rest days are usually spent baking bread and trying to perfect my flat white…. rather unsuccessfully!

Tom, well done on everything you’ve achieved so far, and we look forward to tracking your progress as you prepare for Argentina.

By Mike Bannister