Transvulcania Race Interview with James Scott
- James is based in the Cotswolds, England, UK
Before we dive into asking you all about Transvulcania, please can you tell us a bit about yourself and your running background – when and why did you start running?
I started running in December 2015, I’d ran a bit of cross country in school but after that, I didn’t really run much at all.
One morning in December 2015 I was sat in bed on my day off from work eating a Chocolate Yule log, I looked down at my stomach and saw I was starting the get a bit out of shape and maybe I needed to change the way I did things. I started running on the road to lose my Yule Log belly but me being me I always need a challenge to work towards. A little bit later on in that month I went out and did a 12 mile road run and realised I had the ability to run distance without much training. I entered the Stratford Upon Avon Marathon in April 2016 and finished in just over 4 hours. I enjoyed the marathon experience and when I finished I knew I didn’t want it to be a one-off thing.
I naturally progressed back into Trail as where I live is really hilly, I live on a national trail (The Cotswold Way) so there are lots of beautiful places to run. I fell in love with Trail and never really went back to road. During 2016 I completed the Stroud Trail Marathon, The Scafell Pike Marathon, The Gower Ultra 50 (my first ultra) and CTS Dorset. This completed my first full year running.
What made you choose Transvulcania as one of your A-races this year?
I chose Transvulcania because I saw the video on YouTube and was so inspired by the people who took part as well as the amazing people on the island who cheer you on. It’s a pretty iconic race that’s super tough so I knew it would be a challenge and that’s exactly what I wanted.
How would you describe the course/location?
The location is stunning, La Palma is the lesser-known island in the Canaries but so beautiful. The course itself is very hard, especially for a normal guy like me. The first part of the race is basically uphill to the top of the island which is then followed by a long, steep, technical descent to the finish. It’s a really tough course because of the climate as this changes as you move around the islands. There are Times when you’re above the clouds and it’s super hot and there are also times where you’re in the clouds and it got cold and wet.
The location is stunning, La Palma is the lesser-known island in the Canaries but so beautiful. The course itself is very hard, especially for a normal guy like me.
What were your expectations going into the race?
My expectations going into the race were really conservative. I planned for around 15 hours as you just don’t know how things are going to go. I knew I would be slow on the downhills due to an Injury. My main goal was to finish, manage my nutrition and hydration well and try not to have any lows. Luckily I was smiling all the way around.
How did you train for the race?
My training for the race really focused on long back to back runs with as much climbing and descending as possible. I swim a lot and started cycling. I also did some speed work but don’t really enjoy that.
How did the race go for you? What were the best and most challenging parts?
The race went really well, I hydrated well and met some great people on the way around. I finished in 15:04 which I was satisfied with. I think the hardest parts for me were the long descents as I struggled with my ligament injury. The climb to the top of the island in the sun was also really tough.
What kit did you choose and why? What were you most thankful that you had with you?
In terms of kit I was debating whether or not to use poles, On reflection, I’m really happy I did. I packed way too much food than I needed. I only ended up eating a few tribe bars during the race along with some Ella’s Kitchen fruit baby food, it’s super tasty. I took salt pills for the first time during a race which were really good. A headband and a cap are a must. The aids stations are really good and stocked well.
What did you learn?
I learnt that I can improve, I learnt that managing your body and effort during a race is super important.
In terms of kit I was debating whether or not to use poles, On reflection, I’m really happy I did. I packed way too much food than I needed. I only ended up eating a few tribe bars during the race along with some Ella’s Kitchen fruit baby food, it’s super tasty.
Do you have any advice for other people thinking about going to Transvulcania as a relatively new runner?
Yes! Enter it! Train hard! If I can do it then anyone can.
Would you go back again?
I’m considering returning but before I do I need to shake off this injury and ensure I can run the downhills well without any pain. I reckon I can knock a good few hours off my time if my bodies 100%.
What challenges / races / adventures are you planning for the coming year?
I’m just about to do the Mont Blanc Marathon. Then I’m running the UTMB route over 4 days in August as I didn’t get through the ballot for OCC. in September I’m doing my first 100 miler over the Cotswold Way and then I’m returning to Dorset to do the CTS Ultra Plus 45 miler. I’m considering running the Haute Route in July if I get time.
What’s your favourite running/adventure book, and which songs if any, keep you going when things get tough?
I tend not to listen to music when I run but when I do it has to be Biffy Clyro!!
Finally, what do you get up to when you’re not running or adventuring?
I spend most of my time either training, doing races, or planning my next adventure. I do have a job as well! I love spending time at home in the Cotswolds with my wife and our dogs!
Thank you for telling us your experience of Transvulcania, James! The race sounds amazing and is definitely on our list of events. After reading this I’m sure a lot of our readers will want to give it a crack too! Congratulations on finishing this beast of a course, and good luck for all those amazing events you have on your calendar! Let us know how you get on, we would love to get you back to talk about your experiences!