This is the third in an occasional series where I'll share conversations with athletes in the world of adventure sports. This time I'm speaking to Joanne Thom, a gym assistant manager from Edinburgh, Scotland, who has quietly been making progress in the UK over the last few years with top-place finishes in a number of national and international events.
- Kingscavil Hill Race - Second place 2016
- PTL Ultra Trail Mont Blanc 2016
- Trans Alps MTB Race - Seventh female pairs 2016
- 10 Under the Ben - First female pairs 2016
- Glentress 7 MTB - First mixed pairs 2016
- North Coast 500 mile time trial - 36 hours 2016
- Tierra Viva Adventure Race - Second team place 2016
- Strathpuffer 24hr MTB - First female pairs 2016
- Open 5 Race 2015 - First mixed team/3rd overall
- Relentless 24hr Mountain Bike Championships - First female Pairs 2015
- Raid in France AR - Second team place 2015
- Dingle Marathon - First female 2015
- European AR Championships - First team place 2015
- Glentress 7 MTB - First female pairs 2015
- Strathpuffer 24hr MTB - First female pairs 2015
- D33 Ultra - First female 2014 (and new course record)
- Glen Ogle 33 Ultra - Second female 2013, First female 2014
- Jedburgh Ultra 40 - First female 2014
- St Begas Ultra - Second female 2013
- Speyside Way Ultra - Second female 2013
- Glencoe Marathon - First female 2014 (and new course record)
- Kelso Marathon - First female 2014
- Bowhill Duathlon Series - First female 2012, 2013, 2014
- Solstice Triathlon - First female 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
I spoke to Joanne outside Lifescycle, Scotland's first dedicated indoor cycling and spinning studio, the week after she completed the 2014 Glencoe Marathon, an off-road 42km race with 1608m ascent, where she finished first female (and fourth overall) in a new course-record time of 3 hours 49 mins.
Q1: What attracts you most to your sport?
Joanne: Being outside! I just cannot express how much I love being in the hills, surrounded by beauty. Scotland has some gorgeous places for running. Since taking up ultra running my knowledge of Scotland has vastly improved. I just love being out on adventures.
Q2. What’s your training programme and how do you fit this in around work?
Joanne: I pretty much train 6 days a week, main sessions I try to do weekly is a long 3/4 hour run and a main speed session, which I normally do with Edinburgh AC. The rest of the week is just building miles on my legs. The good thing for me is I love cross-training as well. So I am happy to swap a day's running for a muddy adventure on my mountain bike. At the moment I am working full-time and also at college full-time so life is pretty busy just now, but nothing has came between me and my training regime yet!!
Q3. What’s your diet?
Joanne: I don't have a special 'athlete' diet. It’s an ongoing joke that I eat so much. I just can’t get enough food and I’m always looking forward to my next feed. I'm definitely not a fussy eater as I seem to love everything, which can only be a good thing! My diet is perhaps not the best but I burn a lot of calories so to just eat can’t be a bad thing!
Q4. Who do you admire most in your sport?
Joanne: It has got to be Kilian Jornet, a long-distance trail runner from Catalonia. Kilian has won the French Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (three times) and the US Hardrock 100 ultra marathon. He is the current 2014 Skyrunning World Champion.
I consider Kilian Jornet to be an inspiring man who never gives up when challenged with a new adventure. He's given me the belief that, if you put your mind to something and believe in yourself, it can be achievable. I've applied this to numerous marathons and triathlons that I have taken part in and have managed to surpass my own expectations. If I met Kilian, I would thank him for giving me the confidence to believe in myself.
Q5. What’s next for you?
Joanne: I've just finished competing in a 7 day adventure race ('Raid in France') with a top team from the Lake District. They have asked me to join them and compete for Great Britain at New Zealand's premier adventure race, Godzone. So my goal at the moment is preparing for that.
Joanne Thom is currently looking for sponsors. You can contact her through her Facebook page.