Introducing BRC member profiles.💚
To kick us off there can be no other choice than someone who is training to undertake the toughest race on Earth.
Profile 1 is none other than Andy Wheldon.
1. Please Briefly introduce yourself.
Andy Wheldon, live in Brentwood and joined BRC in 2018.
My running journey started by seeing others run.
It was the London marathon that piqued my interest in running – we lived in Blackheath through the 2000s and each year used to watch the start of the race from our doorstep, in awe of the runners jostling for position in that first mile. It wasn’t until 2011 however that I secured a place and ran it for myself. That day was a turning point for me and I have now completed 22 marathons and ultramarathons as well as full Ironman races in Hamburg and Zürich. I joined BRC in 2018 and have enjoyed every second of the Monday, Wednesday and Friday club runs…
2. What events if any do you have coming up?
Like everyone, my 2020 schedule was badly affected by Covid-19, although I did still manage to compete in three ultra-marathons: Pilgrims in February [66-miles in 2-days across the North Downs] and two 33-mile coastal ultras [Suffolk and Dorset] in October and December. I had been due to race Marathon des Sables in April and I am currently scheduled to compete in the rescheduled race this coming April. The Marathon des Sables or MdS is a 6-day, 156-mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert that is commonly regarded as the toughest footrace on earth! Temperatures often reach 50 degrees in the daytime [no place for a pasty Englishman!] and fall to around freezing at night. The race is also fully self-sufficient, so competitors have to carry everything that they need for the whole race on their backs – typically a pack of between 8-10kg. I am also due to compete in the Camins de Hèr ultra-marathon in the Pyrénées in July, a 65-mile race with 21,000 ft of ascent – this as a stepping stone towards the UTMB 2022 dream!
3. What does running mean to you?
I love the emotion and energy of running and cannot imagine a life without it… Some of my most amazing life experiences have been gained through running – from running the streets of Venice, Seville, San Sebastián, Zürich, Hamburg and Paris to the trails of the North Downs and Jurassic Coast [as well as 26 lengths of Southend Pier!]…
4. What is your best BRC memory?
Before joining BRC in 2018 I had always seen running as a solitary sport, a way of getting some headspace. Since joining the club however, I have thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of the midweek sessions as well as competing for the club at various races including the Essex cross-country meets and Essex Way relay. My favourite memory however would have to be the Benfleet 15 in 2020 [and not just because Ben fell over twice] – an absolute mudfest and so much fun running with so many BRC runners.
5. Proudest running moment?
As the kids grow up my proudest running moments are undoubtedly watching them start to enjoy their running and being able to run with them. Whilst Parkrun, triathlons and school sports days are distant memories, lockdown has provided us with the opportunity to get out and enjoy the trails in South Weald and Thorndon as a family – great memories from a tough year! My personal moment would have to be either completing Ironman Zürich [a brutal bike course and I’m no cyclist] or the Jurassic Coast Ultramarathon, which was 44-miles and 10,000 ft of ascent – an unforgiving trail course in mid-December [just think three times Benfleet 15] and the first time that I had ever run further than marathon distance…
6. Best bit of running advice you could give or have been given.
The best piece of advice that I’ve ever been given? Probably at the start line of my first Benfleet 15 back in 2017 when a fellow competitor leaned over and told me that I was going to struggle in my road shoes! After sliding down the first hill, I bailed out, my only DNF! Actually, my favourite advice is that “tomorrow is promised to no-one”. No matter how much we enjoy running, there are always reasons to put off training and races to the next day, the next week or the next year – but I’ve tried to resist the temptation to do that in recent times and to get out whenever I can – I always feel better afterwards. The structure and friendships at BRC have really helped me to do that – the club sessions provide that structure and bumping into a fellow BRC runner on a solo run is always a nice boost! I just can’t wait until the Covid-19 restrictions ease and we can get back to normality as a club!