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running, race, people, sport, trail, bit, project, runners, started, research, survey, ultra, uk, book, thought, kinds, years, long, fell, trail runners
Carl Morris, Edwina Sutton, Gary Thwaites
We've been super lucky to be joined by Carl Morris. Carl is conducting some research
So the trail Ultra project is short. Remember the title? Yeah.
I went off script. I did two things wrong. Closed the window. And I went off script. Back on script and rewind. Where are you? What's the view from your window? And have you been for a run today?
Yeah. So thanks for having me. I'm gearing up. So I am in I'm at home. I'm in Otlley in West Yorkshire. It's just north of Leeds the view of my window. It's okay. I've got a small fell outside my house at 7am. I have been through a run up the chevron. So you've caught me actually on a training peak. So I've been out this morning and I'm going out again this afternoon.
what's on the plan today? Double run?
Yeah. So just a short half hour in the morning, and then two hours this afternoon?
Oh, when is it a specific session?
So I've got my first 100 miler and a couple of weeks two and a half weeks Ultra Trail Snowdonia. So I'm trying to I'm trying to teach myself to run a bit slower, because that's gonna be the problem. So yeah, sort of slow, easy, but with lots of elevation. That's what I'm going to record at any of the course, haven't No, no, no. I've done lots of climbing in Snowdonia, but never only running so I don't know, which is one of the attractions of it.
You're quite comfortable on that sort of gnarly technical climbing terrain. Oh, yeah.
No, that's, that's what I love. Yeah, that's
when I only say that because I got a client doing it. And she record leg five and six, just over the weekend as her last, like, sort of training days. And I think she was, yeah, she's quite comfortable on that sort of terrain as well. But I think it's going to be it's going to be a big test. Because we're thinking, Oh, it's like the UTMB of Britain, but like, UTMB, there's no, there's never actually need your hands. Yes.
Am I correct in thinking this is part of the new UTMB?
Pretty much the only way to get into UTMB in these
aspirations for utmb? Yeah, yeah,
yes. Yeah. So we looked at UTMB. Why not?
Okay, well, maybe by the time this is probably will go out at the same time, as you'll either have just be about to do it all have just done it. So
be carrying me out of a ditch somewhere, maybe we'll see.
Can you share us a little bit how you got to where you are. Now we're going to talk mainly about your research project. But we felt was quite good to kind of paint the picture of like, why you would want to do this sort of project. Tell us a little bit about your personal running journey and how you find yourself to be I don't know, to be honest, I don't even really know what a researcher is. So maybe you can tell us a little bit about the day job as well.
Sure. Yeah. So. So it's interesting, I guess, because my own running background has partly prompted the project really, because I don't I don't come from a running background. This has come up in a lot of the interviews that I've done. Everybody says particularly British runners, I did cross country at school once hated it, never run again. And pretty, pretty similar with me, really, I do come from a strong kind of fell walking background, it's been always a very important part of my sort of childhood and, and adult years, and obsessed about climbing and mountaineering really since the age of 13. So look at the mountains, but but but never, never running at all. It's not really something I thought I would ever do. You know, work life, family, all of those kinds of things took over. And again, this is something that comes up a lot into my kind of early 30s, you know, getting unfit and that is ticket running really just to get a little bit fitter. The first and only road run I've ever done was the first run, I thought if I'm going to continue this, I can't I can't do this. So I started running off road and gradually just fell into fell running. But was really inspired by some of the longer stuff. Like Gary, I'm a bit of a Bob Graham obsessive. And, you know, that was kind of an aspiration early on, really, I just kind of really fascinated by that longer, mountainous kind of running. And it's evolved from that, you know, sort of into Ultras and, you know, sort of aspiring for multi day efforts or that kind of thing, really. So running is a really important part of my everyday life. Now I'm gonna totally embraced it in every single aspect of everything that I do. In terms of my day job. I mean, I'm, I'm an academic, I'm a sociologist. I've been to a few universities. I'm at the University of Central Lancashire now. Because I'm a sociologist, I can work in the humanities That gives me a lot of freedom to look at whatever interests me really, there's not huge amounts of money in that area of research. And if there's no if there's no money, there's nobody telling me what to do, which is the good thing. So. So I've had a big project, which I finished last year. And something completely unrelated, really, around media and religion. book coming out in that area, and I wanted something completely new, something fresh, something you could really get into. And I thought, I'm going to combine my two passions really work and running, and and do a project on that.
I don't know how it works. But you have to pitch an idea for funding and then it's a yes or no.
Yeah, so if you want research, so there's there's two types of research funding, the university has its own funding, and they basically give me time to go and do research and small amounts of money for their research. If you want to have a bigger project, where you maybe hire research assistants, people to work for you that kind of project. You need to pitch an idea to a funding body, it's really competitive, really difficult to get money like that. And you have to align yourself with whatever the funding body might want. Yeah,
it can't. Yeah. Do you have anybody working for you? Is this purely you driving this project? No.
So I've got colleagues that I work with at the Centre for Applied sport at the university, and some of my colleagues are doing research on running. So we're kind of, you know, sort of doing parallel projects and sort of feeding off each other, that kind of thing. Now, I don't have anyone working for me, that'd be that'd be nice, in a way, but at the same time, because I like to do it, you know, I like to go out and do it. So I don't want to pay someone to do it for me,
if you lecturer at the University as well. Yeah, so a large
part of my job is teaching during the autumn in the spring and Mark,
over the last I thinking you're very professional on Zoom, how's that looked over the last couple of years? Students asleep on Zoom, not saying your lectures,
turn the camera on. So I don't know if they're asleep or not? Yeah. Yeah, I know. That must be really. Yeah, but at the same time, I've not insisted on that either, because I think some of them are at home, going through some difficult times. So the thing that we've really struggled with is their personal crises that students are going through lots of mental health issues. You know, people just really needing a lot of support, we've had to be quite flexible, I think. And I know that's, that's widespread, actually, students feeling quite isolated, and alienated and not having all of that interaction.
Really, we all know, we go to uni, for the social and that sort of growing up that huge growing up transition from leaving home and like, learning to be an adult, even though you're not really still a child, but then not to have that and then but then having to like, learn how to work in a lecture environment, but without like, any, it must be, it must be really hard for you as well. But now it's sort of back students back, you're back in their lecture halls, what they called the lecture theatre. Yeah,
yeah. So we're back. We've been on campus this year, which has been great. But there's still a lot of that legacy, I think students who are struggling during COVID Yeah, they're still struggling, really. So I think, I think we're getting school leavers now, who again, have had a bit of a strange, you know, time at school towards the end of their A levels, all of that kind of thing, really. So there's a legacy. I think that's going to be going on for a while now.
I worry about some of the really young children who have missed, you know, few years of kind of social skills that they would have got maybe it's some kind of preschool situation where yeah, my oldest, my daughter, my oldest child, she's doing GCSEs. Now, so yeah, it's been quite interesting. to two and a bit years. Yeah, it's a wild time for them. Curious where you're at with your Bob Graham round journey your car.
I don't know how many attempts have had because I don't know whether they counted as real attempts or not. So maybe three, I was always motivated by doing it solo. I was really wanting to do it by myself. And, you know, I supported a friend on his background about a week and a half ago, actually. And it was amazing. I mean, the energy or the people there at Hollister for him. It was really special. And it was really nice to be with him on that journey. But I've always really quite fancied the idea of just being by myself self supported solo in the mountain. So I kind of tried it three times. The first time was Reki. I did it. You know, I know you like the details. Gary. Did it. I did anti clockwise starting a night in the morning, which is really weird and unusual. And probably a mistake. I did like five, four and three because I was doing it backwards. Yeah, this two years ago. Really good time that ran in 12 hours to done mail and so two thirds. Yeah, and I didn't feel too bad. But then I was going up onto that final bit. And it was nighttime. It was 10 o'clock at night, nine o'clock at night. And just the idea of never run by myself in the dark for an extended period. And I don't know just the enormity of doing that at that point and hadn't brought me gloves. It was middle of summer. I didn't think it's gonna get cold but you do start to get cold. Yeah, really. So I just thought I'll treat that as a rookie, I'll drop out. That's fine. I came back a few months later in September shouldn't have started. The weather was atrocious. I'm always the optimist. I looked at the weather report and thought it's gonna be better than it says it's going to be better and wasn't. It's far worse. Yeah, so I did, I did the first few legs in torrential rain in the dark by myself, about 10 hours and I got around to done mail and stuff like that, you know that. That was just a Reki. You know,
I love this. I love it. I'm gonna use this Metro.
But I came back last year and I really was gonna go for it. This time, I actually got a tracker so that people could follow what I was doing. And I shared it with my family and friends. And you know, I'm going through at this time, I've got enough experience now. I got all the way around that it's four legs. I did that clockwise. I got all the way around to Honister it just taking me a little bit longer than I'd expected. The weather hadn't been brilliant. For the first part, I grinded about 20 hours to harvester. And other I did that classic thing I think, you know, in your mind, you start to rationalise dropping out and it was, it was kind of like, it's probably going to be a deep bit dangerous scrambling. Dan Robinson, my legs are gone. You know, it's all greasy. Now. It's actually really really cloudy. Can't see anything dark. I've got what I wanted. I've got a 20 hour day in the mountains. Who cares? I'm not going to be in the club anyway, because it's a solo thing. Yeah. So I dropped out of Hollister, you know, kind of quite happy with the decision for about 10 minutes. And then I was gonna
say that, yeah, you're gonna get in the car, and then it's.
So I'll be back. I will go back. I was gonna get back this May. But I broke my toe in March. And then I had COVID. And it just didn't seem sensible to try and squeeze it in.
Sounds like what you need about when you sort of getting leg five ish. You just need Gary to pop up and give you some words of words of wisdom, with a chia charge bar and calories or cup of tea and be like, make more. All right. You can do this. You safe, and then maybe just follow for like half an hour at a safe distance and then not
pure then there was Eddie, I love it. Yeah. It's so it's super tough. Because, you know, there's moments. I was quite fortunate on the successful one. I never had many laws.
Yeah, but you have like 1000 people. Exactly. Yeah. It was like
Forrest Gump. At some point. It was pretty embarrassing. That sometimes Yeah, that distraction is just enough to keep you going on when I'm not yourself. I really want to do a solo round. But thankfully, now I can do that. Because some Donnie wants, like a proper Bob or a supporting Bob or a comfortable Graham around so. So yeah, I do fancy a soul or Bob. But yeah, it's really tricky, because you've just got nobody just to offer you a little bit of wisdom or bit of motivation, just when you need it with them. I can see Fingers crossed. So you move on to me. I'm going to get the trail altar project. I'd love to know more about a project. Sure.
So I'll tell you the, I suppose the inspiration for the project, because that's quite relevant. Really. As I said, I was going to I wanted to do something on running, I wanted to combine my academic and personal interests. So I was going to do something very specific on media and running. Because that's kind of in my wheelhouse, really. And I started doing the background research with the project. And it was just really quite apparent. There's almost nothing that has been written by academics about trail and ultra running from a kind of cultural and sociological perspective. All the research out there is has been done by sports psychologists and physiologists and nutritionists and all that kind of performance based research. There's a tonne of that out there. And I'm sure it's all really valuable.
Most of it on men. Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. Well, David Roach, he goes on about that a lot. Actually, you know, the sports coach. Yeah, about the lack of research on women and the need for that. But yeah, I mean, that kind of stuff. I have no no clue about anyway, really. But the kind of softer, human centred, sort of historical sociological stuff, there was just nothing out there, really. So it's out there to do a smaller, very specific project quickly, gathered steam, I thought, I'm just gonna do something a bit more ambitious, actually, really. And the other thing that really kind of caught my attention was the I started looking at the statistics for the growth of the sport. I had to put together a load of racing sistex for race finishers for
wondering where these were the stats on race finishers, where were they from?
So there's a there's a there's an ultra marathon website, d u. V, it's a German website. And the Milroy, the sports historian, has been helping them compile results, and you can't compile them on the website. So I went through and I got all of the race results for the trail and ultra aces, put them on a spreadsheet, crunches numbers did all that kind of thing, from the sort of 1980s onwards for both for both the United States and for the UK, and it was able to put together then, you know, a sense of the growth of the sport. So,
that right there was it like 18 100% for UK growth.
1,800%. Yep. So that was between 2009 and 2019. Because then we had a slump because of COVID. So yeah, so there were 18 times 18 times the number of finishes in 2019, compared to 2009 in the UK, which makes it one of the fastest growing sports, right, you know, massive you, I think it's 30,000 race finishes, I think something like that 33,000 race finishes in the UK. So I don't know what that would have meant back in 2009, but not very many.
It's still tiny, though, to keep it in perspective, you think, one mass participation Lord, we're simulating the Great North Run, just in one event, you've got 1000 Plus finishes. So it's still quite, it sounds enormous when you think of that percent. But yes, it's quite small.
That's right. Yeah, compared to road running. Yeah, it's absolutely tiny. But you just know that there is something in the growth of the sport when all of these big shoe and apparel companies are suddenly releasing a range of trail running shoes, and all of that kind of thing, and really trying to promote it. So. So but you know, the sports growing quite quickly, and nobody's documenting it really, you know, I mean, people are doing incredible work, kind of in terms of community history, and kind of media production, you know, podcasts like this. And, you know, a lot of the kind of websites are doing great work, but nobody's kind of putting this together in a slightly more formalised way. I guess, really documenting it from an academic perspective, and spending a real amount of time on it. So that's, that's what I wanted to do as I thought, okay, you know, nobody's doing it. I could do this right?
On top of the younger, but then also in the US and massive growth, but only only seems crazy, only 300%. Have you found I've got an opinion, what the difference is why there's such a percentage wise, huge growth in the UK compared the US.
I don't know the US started at a slightly higher level, there's been more of a tradition of ultra running in the US than there has in the UK, which is really interesting. Our races have tended to be shorter. Whereas the US
as we got so far to run, it's much smaller island.
I think they have no Capstone they land on because compared to us, I know we had both done on last week, we talked about land on land ownership. But I think there is real issues in the States with people accessing land. So maybe that is a reason why.
Yeah, there is there is a problem with land ownership. Yeah, there's a problem here as well. I mean, it's increasingly a problem here. I mean, oftentimes discussion with you is really interesting, because land ownership and access, it's a problem here. So let's can
we break the project down now. So we've got your sort of your why of why you wanted to do it, your history and running. And now can just go into a little bit more detail about the nitty gritty of the project. And we should say right, from right from the off, now we're going to ask all our listeners to participate in the survey for you for your project. So sell it to them, tell them a little bit about what they're going to be asked what you're trying to find out a little bit why you're trying to find that out? Yeah,
great. Thanks. So I suppose in terms of what I'm doing, there are three things I've got this survey, which you've just mentioned. So that has gone out across both North America in the UK, it's very detailed. It's trying to collect really the first, you know, detail sort of demographic and, you know, sort of survey based set of data for trail and ultra runners. And I'm using those terms quite vaguely, because, yeah, there's explore those terms. And maybe we can come back to that. So that will collect a lot of information about who runners are, you know about what they think but what they do you know, about levels of education, about the type of running, they do their income, all kinds of things, ethnicity, you know, gender. So there's a survey, and following that up with detailed interviews with both runners, sort of everyday runners and those working in the profession, you know, from race directors through to athletes through to podcasters. So, go, you know, have this kind of wide set of interview data as well collecting stories. And I'm also doing some archival research as well around the history of trail and ultra running. And that's one of the things I'm working on writing about at the moment actually. And they're going to be kind of broadly three parts to the the project as it comes out. The main output will be a book, and I'm going to bring together the history of running trail and ultra running from the 19th century onwards, sort of Victorian pedestrian ism through the early races.
I'm very nervous when they they were a big spectator sport, the early Victorian races.
It was Yeah, I mean, most people don't know much about this at all. It's like a hidden history. But Victorian pedestrian ism was the first modern sport. And they were huge. I mean that, you know, 50,000 people going to watch someone run around the track
they like to read was reading something about them. They tried to keep him awake. And they were like shaking him and sticking needles in him. And
they did all kinds of really, really peculiar things. It was really interesting. Yeah. So you had a six day race, because they couldn't run on the seventh day, because it was a day of rest and Christine Britain, right. So a lot of the early Ultra running records were set during this time. But I mean, you know, much further than that much further than six days, you know, talking about sort of 2000 3000 mile runs really quite incredible feats. And it was surrounded by gambling, there was loads of gambling, it was all about betting and money and all sponsored by the ale houses, you know, all these NS which were paid to come so they could sell booze. And lots of shenanigans as well, you know, sort of people being hired to go and beat people up beat runners up to stop them doing what they were doing. And
so, there's a movie here, for sure.
I wonder what the turn of events was because it sounds proper of like rock and roll. And but then obviously, this, like even running today really isn't watched. Like that, apart from maybe like a world championship or an Olympics. I wonder what the timeline fits for the kind of people turning away from athletics plays?
Yeah. Well, I mean, I can kind of tell you really, in some ways, it was towards the end of the 19th century. And it was because the sport had become seen as a bit shady bit dodgy. Yeah, you know, people weren't sure any more about putting money down on some of these races. Because they're all fixed when they went all fixed, but some of the work that could be. And it was because, you know, in Britain, there was football and cricket started to become very popular. And us it was baseball, so they were replaced by other spectator sports.
It didn't take these days, you could sort of Yeah, yeah, that's right.
Someone for 90 minutes or six days? Yeah.
Yeah. So I mean, I want to trace that history I want to bring to because that's actually been written about quite a lot. And there's been bits on fell running, you might have read some mystery children's books on the history of fell running. There's nothing really about the history of trail running in the US, for example, there are some websites and community projects out there. But I want to trace that history through and bring and really connect or connect the dots from pedestrian ism through to fell running. You know, looking at the early history of the town, Mahara, for example, in Mexico. I mean, you know, I'm looking at an amazing race there in 18 6700 miles, eight women, one of whom had given birth 10 days before she Yeah, yeah, she bandaged her breasts because she you know, she had just given birth to his nursing her child and, you know, was simply a bit sore and swollen, but she went and ran 100 miles, and swollen. She won the race. Edie, you'll be pleased to hear. Yeah, I want to trace all of this history through right through to the establishment of the big trails, like the Pennine Way the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, which will being done in the UK, and North America at the same time, through to the birth of amateur trail running and fell running in the 1960s and 1970s, to the present day. So there's a really long history that hasn't been brought together before. And I'm doing a lot of the archival research around that and really trying to preserve some of it will make it make it more available for everybody, for both American readers and for British readers. So we can learn about one another's different heritage. And we can see the parallels there and the connections as well. So that's the first part of it the history side. Then I want to look at the modern sport of trail and ultra running. I want to ask the question, what are we talking about when we use those terms? But they're both American terms? I mean, yeah. But they're becoming more and more popular in the UK. Some people don't like that, and they're resistant to
it. The off road, wasn't it a bit off road running or crystal? Trail is for definitely in the sort of last five years, isn't it?
I prefer the more neutral term I use uses off road endurance running, because that just is a
more hardcore, doesn't it? It's not snappy,
and it doesn't make sense to well, it just makes sense to American sort of, you know, runners, but trail and ultra running has kind of cachet on both sides of the Atlantic, I guess. Yeah. So exploring what we mean by that, and the way in which the sport is growing, and looking at some of the institutions around the sport. So, you know, we can think about some of the different governing bodies, you know, that like the American trailrunning Association, for example, but then we can think about private enterprises as well. So UTMB you know, is becoming A dominant presence in the sport isn't it really, you know, for better or worse. And I know people have got quite strong views about that. So I'm just trying to tap into some of that and think about that scene at the moment about what's happening and how the sport is becoming established. Because, you know, with other sports, what you find is that in those early years, they they do become established, and it's hard to undo some of the structures that get put into place. So that is a bit fraught, now. Huge rapid
growth as well, rapid growth is actually never really good. Is it? Because things are quickly put in place with no backup? And potentially no reason as well. And then it's very hard to change.
I mean, I mean, UTMB is obviously fast becoming the, I suppose the kind of world series set of races, you know, the kind of the World Cup of rail not running, isn't it really right, like self proclaimed, though, isn't it? Today is self proclaimed. But then at the same time, all the elite athletes want to race in UTMB. And they see it as the pinnacle of their running career don't know if they can win that race and do well in it, you know, you've got Jim Wamsley is moved to France, so that he can can hopefully win UTMB this year, that's his plan.
Still? is on the start line, isn't it? It's just killing ants on the start line, unless you get stung by
It's not gonna happen. Sorry, I interrupted you. Yep. Keep them.
Yeah, so So that's the second part of the project to look at, to look at some of those institutions, but also to look at some of the issues in in Trello, not to running some of the issues around diversity. So if we think about the background that runners come from, is still very much a privileged sport, in some ways. You know, the barriers to access for ultra running can be quite high, in some respects, I think isn't cheap, always. And it's a very, it's a very white sport, as well. You know, people from a non white background, very well represented in this sport. There's lots of really good work that's being done on that, you know, like black trail runners in the UK, for example. But just to try and engage with some of that conversation, and, you know, again, with the fast growing sport, we need to ask why it's not growing so fast, in certain parts of our society. Issues around gender really interesting, and sexuality. You know, you know, I mean, it's, this is a, this is an issue for many competitive sports. But if we think about, you know, transgender athletes, non binary athletes, and then we still have a men's race, and the women's race, you know, in pretty much all races, those are only just being grappled with, with really. So to try and explore some of those conversations and to, I don't have to, I suppose, help bring a lot of the work that which has been done out there already to the forum to put it into some kind of accessible form for, for everyday runners to engage with? And then the final bit, is the bit I'm personally most interested in, which is, why do we do it? Because this is a question I'm always asking myself, like we all do, every morning.
Even today, like why, why do we do it? Yeah.
Because you know, at the end of a race or a long effort, you're often miserable. Sometimes, you know, looking forward to the end, and then five minutes afterwards, you're booking your next race. Yeah, making the plans. So why do we like to suffer so much? I don't know. I don't know what the answer is to that. So I wanted to explore that really well. Why did why do people do it? What's their motivation for doing it? Got lots of ideas around that. You know, one of the one of the reasons the history of this is quite important is that some of those early runners, people who are going out to the mountains and the Victorian period, they were inspired by the Romantics, they wanted to escape the Industrial Revolution, kind of mechanised nature of work, all of that. And I don't know, I think there's something to be said for, you know, we've gone through a digital revolution last 1020 30 years, a lot of work is now in front of a computer. It's quite sedentary. We spend a lot of time in front of screens. I just wonder if there's something there about the general growth in nature based sports, including travel that can be linked to that.
Are you seeing this trend or with your with your answers to the survey, you've seen a trend? I don't know.
Come through the survey in detail yet. There's too much data to handle at the moment. I can tell you from the interviews that I've done, and the general sense. A lot of the reason people take up Ultra running certainly and trail running as well. They do tend to be older, doesn't tend to attract younger people in quite the same way. And the descent tend to be a general dissatisfaction with something in their life. Really, they're searching for something right? They want adventure, they want something and that's that reason for doing You know that the dissatisfaction that you might have, whether it's something as mundane as just children around you all the time and wanting something for yourself, or it's something more serious, like, serious health issues, for example, or, you know, sort of maybe sort of alcohol dependency, you know, these kinds of things. That's the thing that helps push somebody out of the door, it seems often to the case, not always, but often.
I do think about that sometimes when some people maybe replace an addiction, with exercise. I just worry sometimes what do they do when they can't exercise? As a kind of category? Yeah, well, what happens then? super interesting.
Well, we're just grumpy, aren't we? Yeah.
I think I think maybe dissatisfaction is a word that it's it's speaking from somebody who I often find the why of why I do this quite hard to answer. And often it's not any. And I think a lot of people will recognise this. It's not actually the running, and the actual being out there. Love that love being out. But it's actually what it gives to me that I take back into the rest of my life that we are missing from our life. And it's not that I'm dissatisfied with my life or love my life. But it's that, that life is hard. And as and not hard physically as such now, and I sort of, I searched that out. I want that physical hardship almost because I almost feel like we've given so much now in life is too easy to click. And you get that instant satisfaction from buying something or connecting with someone is so easy, but actually going out on the trails and going on, recreate
it sometimes. I remember, it was Sarah Perry's Bob Graham round, the weather that we had to endure on leg four was horrendous. But I absolutely loved it. It was and I remember just saying to my friend, Neil, this is this is exactly where I wanted to be. But it was horrible. But you just can't recreate that in regular life, I wonder.
Yeah, but that's one of the ironies. Isn't it really, I mean, dissatisfaction, we can be dissatisfied with happiness currently, that we can feel to cosseted and you want that adventure. I mean, adventure is uncertainty, right? We many of us live in far more certain and stable environments than you might have done 100 years 200 years ago. But, you know, adventure is uncertainty. It's difficulty. It's challenge. So, you know, I think I think that's a big driver of it, surely. Yeah. But it's really, this is what I want to do. I want to collect the stories because we all have our own ideas about what it is that drives us out there. And I'm just intrigued, and I think other people are about why do other people do it? What is it that gets them out the door training all the time? Because it's hard, isn't it? You know? Yeah,
I'd love to know what the answer is for diversity and more inclusivity with genders and race. I'm a great believer, you know, you live in a poor working class area. And I do believe that you don't generally you can't be what you can't see. And that's a large, sweeping statement. And I think it's super important, but I really don't know what the answer is to it. I'm super privileged. I'm a white, middle aged man. But I would love to see more people of colour or women on the start line. But I honestly I don't I don't know, I chat with my wife about this quite a lot. And I, we don't know what the answer is why I feel compelled to just enter everything I see. And she is guilt. I don't know what it is guilt leaving the home. I don't know what it is. But yeah, I'd love to know what the answer is.
Yeah, so I'm starting to get some ideas about this, really, because one of the things I ask is the kind of origin story of where runners have come from and how they got into the sport and how they started running Ultra sort of distances in particular. And I was a little bit, I suppose, a little bit surprised by it really, in some ways. Most people do it because of some kind of a personal connection to somebody who already does it. So maybe someone from your running club, somebody, you know, you see that they've done it, that they've run a race like that, and you think, Oh, maybe I could do it. Or maybe you're invited to do and, you know, come on by friend, come on, let's go and do this race. It's 50k or whatever. So there's a sort of personal connection there, that that gets somebody it gets their foot in the door. Right. And, I mean, research has shown that actually sort of access to the outdoors, you know, to the lake strip, all of that kind of thing has predominantly been, you know, a kind of white form of white privilege. In some respects. It's not something that non white communities often which have been more urban based if, you know, a tradition in or access to, so there just isn't this culture and there aren't those personal connections there. And I think the reason There is, you know, a big growth in the sport, but it isn't today in non white communities is that there aren't those just doesn't exist there in the same way. So the kind of work that black trail runners are doing, I think, is really the answer to it. It's about trying to grow it, it's about trying to get that sort of, you know, that hug that nucleolus of, of non white runners who then can help, you know, kind of expose others to the sport really into Bring, bring them into the fold.
That's super important, I think to say I just walk into dominantly doing my wife, where I live is pretty football dominant. And they had little athletics track painted on the field. Nobody's on the athletics track at everybody playing football, I'm thinking, that's why where's the next generation, they can't see anybody running around this track. It just seems so it's so important. You see the black trail runners, it's people to be seen.
And with younger people, I mean, it's about inspiring them. I saw a really interesting thing. So I was at a race a couple years ago in Lake District, and we were getting changed in the school, it was standing at school were getting changed in there, you know, sports hall or whatever. And, you know, it's looking at the board the bulletin board, you know, like you get in
school and I can read all the notice boards.
I'm gonna straight on it, you know, like looking at what they had. And actually, you it wasn't like a strict you'd expect them to be promoting kind of fell running. And you know, the kind of grizzly old man invests that kind of traditional right, the traditional picture, you have a cross country and fell running. That's what I thought of it when I was growing up. But it was actually there, this big poster of Anton Crowe picture the you know, the American runner. Looking very. Yeah, I was gonna say sexy. I don't know if it's the right word, maybe. But, you know, Anton, like, oh, yeah, he doesn't wear many clothes. But I thought, You know what, no, maybe that's the answer. Yeah, that kind of to glamorise a sport in some ways, too. So it's not running around in a soggy vest in the rain, like we've probably spent most of our time doing. But to give it that sort of sexy, slightly Americanized appeal, I don't know, you know, maybe there's something there for younger people.
Something there for Gary's
like, what's your vanity number? Well.
So we talked a little bit about the project, how can people get involved in this project? Everything we could talk to you forever about all the different streams and threads that you can have? There's so much you can you're going to pull all together, it's such a loaded amount of data, I think you are going to need to employ that researcher system. How can people most people will be listening to this probably on a run, but when they go home? What can they click on to find the project? How can they get involved?
Yep, so thank you. So we've got we've got a project website. And it's really, really easy. It's trail, ultra project.com. So you can Google it, or just put it straight into your internet browser, that will take you to the website, there's there are some resources on there, there's loads of information about the project people can take a look at. But the main thing is that we have a survey, which should be open now for two or three months. And if you could go and spend 10 minutes of your time filling out a survey, that would be absolutely fantastic. Fantastic. So that's it really.
It's quite painless, don't worry.
Scary can do it. Anyone could do it. And overall, what is your sort of like, aim of the of the whole project? What you're going to do with the data I know talked about a book, is it also like education, you're going to be like, do you grasping at straws? If I do, like sell it to people who are interested in like, sponsz? How they do? How, like you just talked about, like how we do market trailrunning having market races? Is that sort of where you're going to be going with some of the data as well.
Yeah, so So definitely, the book is going to be the main output. And that should be coming out maybe towards the end of next year. And that's, by the way that's going to be written not for academics, it's going to be written for runners. So very
nice. Academics tend to
go down rabbit holes and get tied up in all kinds of I don't know, you know, overly indices, and yeah, yeah, so I don't, I don't want to do that. I want to make something which is authoritative and and get, you know, detailed, but engaging so that we can all enjoy
a reason, like, this is what we found, and then a good story as to like you've started telling us about the sort of Victorian
Yeah, so there'll be a book, but then, um, hopefully, because there is very little research out there on this and you can't generate research funding for other projects and for, you know, some kind of what we call impact work, working with organisations on specific issues, you can't generate that funding without research justification. And because there's no research, there's no justification. So around some of these areas around gender around diversity, you know, whether that's class based diversity, ethnic diversity, whatever, it'd be really, really good to work. with some running organisations, maybe some races or whatever, to do some work around those issues to get some funding to actually, you know, address some of these real world problems. I mean, I don't want to paint a negative picture of the sport because it's fantastic and it's growing and you know, it's full of wonderful people but I guess there are some challenges and it'd be great to do some work around those in the future.
And then also to feed it in I guess other people as well and say, Here's my you take this part of the project this is what I found this is what you could then do some either more research on it, or this is this is where the sport needs work because we're all big fans of the sport, but it has no support structure you know, it has no grassroots as you say like at the school it's got no grassroots participation and it's sort of started and coaching UK Athletics have started sort of run leader coaching but really there's no like formal coaching qualifications. There's no formal system that people are interested that they can sort of feed through so all that sort of research that you're doing not directly linked but actually indirectly would be a huge what an enormous parcel of work you would come you're going to come up with Yeah,
so check out Yeah, trail butcher project.com listeners go over then. Do the survey is awesome. And yeah, were you are
we expecting a signed copy now? I guess. Well, you're gonna need to read it out for Gary, you're gonna need to read the audio version of what we read.
Yeah, so where are you ready about you want about 1000 questionnaires filled in
1000 was a decent sort of credible target really a bit of a stretch target actually so really pleased to be well on the way to that we'll
smash that after Friday.
You know, get our families on it. We'll be there will be
awesome to be one of the quick five let's do it. Okay, I've got six again here to struggle to account.
Yeah, maybe. Oh, yeah, that's a good ones. Or maybe number six. Get rid of them.
Okay, Kyle, you are just political for a superduper long trail run. I listened to a podcast music or just the sound of the shape and the trickling water in your feet to Patrick on the trails for each week, what
a super long run. Yeah, don't listen to anything on a super long run.
That's brilliant. If you're going to enter a race typically would you go for maybe like a defined route event like say the Lakeland 100 Or would it be a hardcore point to point fastest route fell race?
Oh, well, I like long things really. I like I like fell races I like you know, choose your own route kind of thing. But at the same time, they don't tend to be as long as I like. So yeah, I can I guess a marked amount. Long Lakeland 100 style race. Yeah.
Okay, I suppose this kind of answered question three, but I'll go for anywhere. If you could only do one and get the medal or the certificate at the end. Would it be successful UTMB or silver 24 hour Bob Graham round
UTMB I think the Lake District is on my doorstep running me out so hard to get into so I feel awful saying that now actually. I feel like it's somehow kind of let the side down. I don't know. Yeah,
mesmerising the UTMB podcast we don't judge. Yeah, no.
Money Baking Company.
Would it be you're going to read a book would you would it be kindle a book or a traditional book? Sorry, or an audiobook?
Oh, I can't get into audiobooks at all. I do find them difficult. I don't know why. A traditional book. I've got a Kindle. But yeah, I like paper. I like the smell of paper, spilling coffee on it, all that kind of things.
You sign up to your next race and you get to the box where it says do you want a t shirt? Or do you want to plant a tree tees or trees? What do you go for?
Oh, yeah, family tree. Yeah. That's how T shirts back they've tried to force them on me sometimes and
I listen to blanking on the name though. Also trail turned on podcast with Dan and James. And he was saying like event organisers almost think they're doing him a favour by handing him like 500 or news T shirts. And he's like, no, no, no, don't produce the T shirts. It's it's pretty simple. I think you've answered again this one already but yeah, my oldest friends or a solo run losing yourself on the trails.
Solo run. Yeah, both good. But yeah, by myself out there for a long time is better
out by yourself out there as well. Nice to coming on the show. I'm going to remind you again, it's WW dot trail ultra project.com. Go and fill out the survey help. Come on, do it. And you'll know you have a little bit. You've had a little bit of a say in the book that he's
Yeah. And also potentially shaping how we treat the trails and how the sport evolves.
I hope so. Yeah, I think so.
Thank you so much. Good luck with the research Good luck with the book and go and get that book. Were around done. No more excuses.
Thank you, Eddie. Thank you, Gary, so much. Thanks.