Introducing Jodie Gauld: from Tajikistan to Tintagel
We chat to ultra runner Jodie about her running miles, her ambition to run across Asia with her UK and Canadian co-runners Jody Bragger and Gabriel Ghiglione, and about living the local life in Cornwall.
Introducing Jodie, an inspiration in the world of long distance running. She ran through one of the most remote places on Earth, just for fun, and made a film about it. She then continued to take on some of the toughest challenges for ultra running.
How did you get into trail-running?
A: "I guess there have been a few layers to this journey. My family is very outdoorsy and as children we had the freedom to venture, mainly I grew up on a small-holding in Cornwall, in a cottage that was being renovated. As my parents developed the small-holding, and with a frequent task being having to find the animals that had escape, we became natural adventurers. This has never left me and since, if I go to a new place, I have to explore the surrounding through curiosity, taking the paths I come across - trail running was a natural step.
"Back to childhood, our days out included trips to the beach, where I remember dashing bare foot across rocks to get to the best rock pools, looking back now I wonder if this was training for the technical trails that I now love!"
"I have always run, I loved sports day, even from being a toddler. All through school, I'd enter every race I could and PE was my favourite. I got into athletics and then kept up running to keep fit. When I went away to Uni, I joined several of sports teams but the athletics society had ceased, so I kept up my running anyway and again I found I got to explore and know my new city.
"I actually joined a circuit training group in the city, sometimes we'd go out for a social run and then one day they invited me to a race in the Lake District. So, in July 2014, at the age of 21 I took part in my first race since athletics... a 50 mile ultra. It was beautiful, the trail community is so welcoming and encouraging, it was tough but I finished it! I was hooked and curious to see what else the human body could achieve. I've been back to the Lakeland 50 or 100 every year since."
What did you learn from running in Tajikistan during your Running the Roof filming and has this changed your running in any way?
A: "Running in Tajikistan was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not say "no" to. The experience taught me so much in so many ways. Physically, I have learnt how key recovery and acclimatising to your settings is. For instance both myself and JB had done an extreme ultra only about a week before and this was definitely felt! Plus, I have run in the mountains tons, but I underestimated the power of being so high at altitude, we started at 1500metres on tired legs and continue UP the valley to over 4000metres - I wish I had discover Kora base layers before encountering the freezing nights! I've always had in mind to respect nature but the trip definitely taught me to be best prepared.
"I also feel like I have learnt loads in what to expect and what it takes to organise, this trip largely happened because JB is the king of logistics and I hope I have absorbed some of his expertise.
"We're lucky that we have the amazing film by Sourcy to remind us how amazing that experience was. Plus, to hear from people across the globe that they've felt inspired, is inspiring in itself. If another amazing adventure gets discussed, I will say yes!"
How do you prepare for your epic runs and what are your most important considerations during the race?
A: "Always having been sporty I guess I've had a base fitness, but I definitely had to build my endurance when I first got into ultra running. Since, I feel I have maintained and gradually built that endurance, as well as take a focus on stretching and strength training, which has helped to avoid injuries. Something I have learnt to do is to really embrace the recovery time if I have even a little niggle or of course after a race.
"Before a race I will ramp up distance training or practice skills suited for the race, so if it's going to be mountainous, then I'll hit the hills. About a week before, I'll tune training right down, but this is mainly because I am terrified of being clumsy and inviting an injury right before the race. I also make sure to eat well and get loads of sleep. On race day, right until the word "GO" I am always full of nerves."
For me I am driven largely by passion and joy, I absolutely love running and exploring, whether that's solo or sharing the experience with an awesome group of people.
"During the race nothing else matters, my mind will flit through basic things such as have I eaten/drunk anything recently/what does my body need, I take in the views, I chat to other runners, interact with the volunteers marshalling and ultimately I'm here to enjoy as much as I can, taking in the views, enjoying the trails and try to smile throughout."
What are your best gear & kit tips?
A: "Good kit is key! Often in trail races, ultra races especially, there is a mandatory kit list - this is the minimum kit you must take. Race organisers don't make these items mandatory for fun and I have learnt how important these items can be to your safety. Personally, I've started races in a heat waves and then been caught in a storm several hours later, having the mandatory kit as well as good kit, has meant I've continued in the conditions, where other have dropped."
Investing in great kit for me has meant finding the things that work for me, that do their job and in theory last a lifetime!
"My favourite kit items are my Ronhill Shakedry waterproof (it's so light and actually waterproof!), my race vest (like a very lightweight backpack that hugs you and stores your kit, water and snacks), my trail shoes, a great pair of SealSkinz waterproof gloves and my favourite tops the kora Neema SS Crew for all occasions, then Yushu LS Crew for when things get a bit colder. For ultras or multidays these are perfect too because of the material, they are suitable for all conditions, they also keep fresh so I've been able to keep kit to a minimum and reduce changing time/faffing!"
What have you planned for 2022 and beyond?
A: "It's pretty exciting that the world is opening up again and I'm making the most of it to take on more adventures. I kicked off the year with potentially the event that scared me the most, The ARC of Attrition (over 100 miles of Southwest Coastpath in the middle of winter), we lucked out with weather and I had a blast.
"Next I'm taking an unlikely trip to explore one of the Caribbean islands, with my partner, for some much desired vitamin D, plus there will be a mix of water sports, trail adventures and screen-detoxing. From one extreme to the other, I'm stoked to finally put my snowboard to use, after having it for over 2 years, as I'll be visiting a friend in Chamonix to hit the slopes.
"Otherwise, this year I'm taking on a few local races to explore new local routes, including Cousin Jack and KVK. We'll be capatalising on the long Easter weekend to take part in niche 50 mile trail race in Nice, France. Similarly, over the 4 day weekend in June, a group of us are heading to Hungary for an ultra.
"I'm super excited for Love Trails Festival to return this July, a festival all about, running, outdoor adventures, music and good vibes. I'm always in the same place the last weekend of July... Lakeland 100 has become an annual pilgrimage to reunite with friends and soak up the beautiful Lake District. A few things seem to all fall around the same time, as I got a place for UTMB (Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc) and just a few weeks later I'm heading to Slovenia with some friends for the Julian Alps Trail Run, luckily the race organisers have let me drop down a distance as I am still so keen to explore this place. Hoping too, to get to Cape Town towards the end of the year, fingers crossed."
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