As I’m sure you’ve seen through the Facebook group, Strava, and (hopefully) the various Weekly Run Downs on here, barely a day goes by where Nigel Evans isn’t running somewhere, usually doing a marathon/ultra marathon. This Meet the Member article focuses on Nigel and his Phoenix running endeavours, hopefully it can be of use to anyone considering trying out there events! Enjoy…
Q) Hi Nigel, for those members that don’t know you, could you introduce yourself? How long have you been part of the club?
A) I’m Nigel Evans, 54 years old, married to Liz Evans who is also a member of Sandhurst Joggers and I live in Farnborough, having moved from Sandhurst 2 years ago.
I initially joined Sandhurst Joggers around 1999-2000 but then moved away for a period only to re-join when I moved back to the area a few years ago.
Q) And for those members who don’t know what does Ultra marathon/timed event running involve, can you give them an idea?
A) These events consist of running as many, or as few, laps of a 5.3km (3.28 mile) out and back course as you want in the 6 or 7 hour time limit, and apart from Marathon specific events, completing just 1 lap makes you a winner and you will receive one of the awesome medals, so these events really do cater for all abilities.
1 lap = 5km
4 laps = 1/2 Marathon
8 laps = Marathon
9+ laps = Ultra Marathon
Another advantage with these events is that you may set out to run a Marathon but if you decide when running you want to do a shorter distance, you can by reducing the laps you run. It’s totally down to you and how you feel on the day.
The ethos is really about encouraging and enabling runners to achieve things they may feel are impossible, be that your first 5km, 10km, half Marathon or even a 50km.
The encouragement and self-belief you get not only from the marshals but the other runners lap after lap during these events is fantastic and you also get to visit the feed station at the end of every lap.
I really did not enjoy Marathons until I ran Leon Hicks 100th Marathon which was a Phoenix event held in Walton on Thames and absolutely loved the lap format and the brilliant atmosphere, from that day I was hooked.
Q: How many marathons, Ultra marathons and timed events have you completed?
A: My first Marathon was London in 2000. 15 years later (yes I enjoyed my first Marathon that much!) I did my second at Loch Ness in 2015, followed by my third which was London again in 2017, where I proposed to my now wife Liz at mile 25 (thank god she said yes!!)
Having participated in numerous events over the years including Triathlons, Ride London 100 and many 10ks and half marathons I decided to focus on the Marathon distance last September.
Compared to a few of my friends in Sandhurst Joggers I am very much a newbie to Marathon running having run 28 Marathons so far with 4 of those being Ultra’s and one 50km.
I completed my 12 Marathons in 12 months challenge earlier this year, and on July 21st I will complete my 26 Marathons in 52 weeks challenge (actually 46 weeks).
Personally I need to set goals to motivate myself, so in April 2020 I will be doing the ‘Phoenix 10 in 10′ event, running 10 Marathons in 10 days. Phoenix Running are also offering a ’20 in 20’ challenge at the same time if you fancy it!!
My long term goal is to join the 100 Marathon Club, so a long way to go for me yet.
Q) Is there one event that stands out for you as being a personal favourite, and if so what made it so memorable?
A: I really love the Pilgrim Marathon , it is a tough but very beautiful scenic route with great views once you get to the top of the hills! Loch Ness is also a must do!
Q) You’ve also got quite the medal collection, is there one medal that is a particular favourite of yours? Whether it be for the design, or the story behind it.
A: Sorry, but I need to pick 2 for this, and one was not even from a Marathon. Both are about what they have represented in my life and not about the design/size of the medal.
1 – 2013 Windsor Olympic distance Triathlon – because this event was my focus for over a year as a way to deal with and recover from a very difficult period of my life, crossing the finish line of this event was very emotional for me marking the end of a long personal journey and the modest medal has huge significance in my life.
2 – 2018 Phoenix Running Remembrance 100 Marathon – I entered this event because my Dad was a navigator in the RAF during WWII, unfortunately my Dad passed away at the age of 93 last October 5 weeks before the event so I ran this for him.
Q) For those who may be looking to get into running the Ultra marathons and timed events, what words of advice would you give ?
A: Embrace the challenge, build up slowly and get your body and mind accustomed to the longer distance, higher mileage and the time you spend on your feet. Have self-belief that you can achieve far greater things than you think you can. You will be both inspired and humbled by the people you will be running with and making new friends with along the way.
Finally, keep smiling!
Q) In 3 words , describe an ultra-marathon experience….
A: Challenging, humbling, resilience!
Q) Where can people find out how to sign on to these events?
A: Check out the links below
Phoenix Running events are held in Walton on Thames, which is only about 35 minutes away, and many of the Saturn running events are also local taking place in Egham and Earley.
I haven’t personally done any SVN (Saxons, Vikings and Normans) events yet, but have heard great things about them so plan to do a few next year.
As mentioned earlier, I need to set myself goals and the Global Marathon Challenges in my opinion are great for this.
Q) Have you got anything else you would like to say? Thanks for taking part!
A: If you have any questions or concerns about running longer distances, then utilise the wealth of experience we have in this great club.
The saying goes, “if you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon. If you want to talk to God, run an ultra”.
A massive thank you to everyone who has advised, encouraged, inspired and run with me on my journey so far!
Hopefully some of you are feeling inspired by Nigel, and sign up to a Phoenix/Saturn/whoever event, whether it be marathon, ultra marathon, any distance really! My thanks go to Nigel for being so willing to participate in this article, and in general for being such an inspiring runner! It won’t be long until the next Meet the Member, so make sure to keep your eyes on your emails! Until next time…