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Runner Interview: Nicky Spinks (@NickySpinks)

All opinions are our own and never influenced by brands. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here's our process.

Runner Interview: Nicky Spinks

  • Location: Mirfield, West Yorkshire, UK

Nicky Spinks Runner

When and why did you start running?


I’ve run all my life off and on. As a child it was quicker running when I had to fetch the horses in or to visit my friends on another local farm. I started road running at 17 when I moved to Manchester. I worked in an office and piled the weight on. Then I stopped running when I met my now husband in 1991. He was (and still is) a farmer – that was enough exercise for anyone at the time!

I adapted back into farm life and grew stronger, so started running again in 2001. I’ve been running on fells and trails since then.

Describe your ideal race or adventure challenge

My ideal race is a fell running race preferably over 20 miles long and which puts navigational skills to the test. My ideal conditions would be gentle rain and mist (or as fell runners call it, clag).

The 2016 Wasdale Fell Race in the Lake District (34km / 2750m ascent on one of the worst days of the year weather-wise) was a classic example. I absolutely loved it!

Nicky Spinks Runner
Nicky on Esk Pike – Photo credit: Lee Procter / Inov-8

Tell us about your favourite trail

Being a runner of varying distances I have one favorite of each.
The short run is from my home in Mirfield – it’s my speed work run. I run 100m down from the farm and climb sharply up to a golf course. Then my three dogs and I do laps of the golf course, sprinting up the hard-packed trails and cruising down the lovely soft grass.
The long run is somewhere on Bleaklow (High Peak area) – not very mountainous in the grand scheme of things and even though I’ve run there thousands of times it never ceases to amaze me how I can find new routes and views.

My ideal race is a fell running race preferably over 20 miles long and which puts navigational skills to the test.

What has been your biggest running / adventure challenge to date?

Every year I challenge myself to something new. Last year it was the Double Bob Graham in the Lake District – a 132-mile route, which included around 54,000ft of ascent, bagging each of the 42 summits twice (clockwise and anti-clockwise). I stepped into the unknown and wasn’t sure what I’d achieve. As it turns out, I set a new fastest overall time 45 hours and 30 minutes.

Nicky Spinks Runner
Nicky on her way to Great End – Photo credit: Lee Procter / Inov-8

TK Note: See below the interview for a link to watch the awesome Film produced by Inov-8 documenting Nicky’s massive Double Bob Graham Round Challenge, ‘Run Forever’

Tell us about your greatest running fail, we’ve all had – or will have – them at some point!

In 2006 when I attempted the Paddy Buckley Round (66 miles with 28,000ft of ascent) in Wales. The weather was wet and I got very cold. I stopped eating (big error) and finished the circuit outside of the 24-hour limit. A lesson learnt the hard way.

What advice would you give to a new trail runner?

Road runners are always surprised how much slower they are off-road. They amuse me, stopping their watches all the time when we have to walk. To them it doesn’t count if you’re not running! Off-road running is much more relaxed – it’s ‘time on feet’ that matters, not the miles you put in. Take the time to plan a nice route, buy some maps, seek adventure and run with your dogs or a friend. Take some nice food with you on the run and enjoy the views.

Nicky Spinks Runner
Nicky on ascent of Fairfield – Photo credit: Lee Procter / Inov-8

What is your favourite bit of running kit, and why?

The Inov-8 Roclite 305 trail running shoes. I wear these for almost all my training runs. They are super-comfortable and the grip is fantastic on all different kinds of off-road terrain. I also never leave the house (unless it’s hotter than 20C!) without my Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro. It’s such a versatile jacket.

Off-road running is much more relaxed – it’s ‘time on feet’ that matters, not the miles you put in. Take the time to plan a nice route, buy some maps, seek adventure and run with your dogs or a friend. Take some nice food with you on the run and enjoy the views.

What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?

I’ve a place in the new 170km Ultra Tour Monta Rosa in September. At only 50 entries, this will be such a contrast to the UTMB in 2016. But I am so looking forward to it. I much prefer the quieter trails to the busy ones. And I turn 50 on April 22nd, which happens to be a Saturday, so for my celebration I’m planning to run a Joss Naylor (a challenge of 77km over 30 Lake District summits named after the legendary fell runner) in the Lake District.

Nicky Spinks Runner
Nicky Spinks head shot – Photo credit: Lee Procter / Inov-8

Finally, What do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?

Farming is full-time….. and more! I like baking cakes too. I find it relaxing and then give them away as prizes at the races I help organize! I also coach juniors at Penistone Footpath Runners AC and seniors through my website. On top of that, I host ultra running coaching days.

Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed Nicky. You are a true inspiration and I hope to draw on some of your advice for upcoming challenges in 2017. Happy Trails and best of luck with your upcoming ‘Joss Naylor’ 50th birthday challenge!

Social media links:


Watch ‘Run Forever’, a full-length documentary of Nicky undertaking her Double Bob Graham Round challenge, here:


Mentioned in this Interview and recommended by Nicky:

Inov-8 AT/C Softshell Pro

Inov-8 Roclite 305 Women’s


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