Ian Ross is a retired IT consultant living and working in South Africa for over 20 years. He has been running since 1988 – at first shorter races ranging from 8km/10km, to longer races like the marathons. Eventually, progressing to ultramarathons, multi-stage races and ironman events. Let’s hear from Ian what his views on the different endurance events and training for such events:
Ripley: How do you first get into running?
Ian: In Port Elizabeth where I live, there was a relay race against a stream train – “The Train Race”. A very social event, 10 x 8km relay followed by a huge barbecue. I ran for a departmental work team back in 1988 and had to train very hard to build up to 8km. We did the race for 3 years and then I decided to tackle a half marathon with the help of a colleague from work, and then just ran ever greater distances.
Ripley: How much have you accomplished so far?
Ian: I don’t really monitor how many races I completed but it must be more than 300 marathons by now. Plus 22 Comrades, 22 Two Oceans, 3 7-day stage races (Marathon des Sables, Augrabies Extreme, Wild Coast Extreme) and many long trail races in South Africa like the Addo 50 Miles, Amatolo 100km, Puffer, Mutter, Skyrun, etc. I have also completed 8 Ironman and 4 half-ironman events.
Ripley: What is your toughest race completed?
Ian: Marathon des Sables was by far the toughest. The heat, dryness, sand, terrain just wear you down. I only finished through luck and determination, but its extremely worthwhile completing something so challenging.
Ripley: Any difference in doing an ultramarathon like the Comrades Marathon and an Ironman event? Which is more demanding?
Ian: The constant running and hills of Comrades really give your body a beating so Comrades definitely hurts more. But I would say Ironman is much more tiring as I spend more time during the event though the recovery after the event was faster.
Ripley: How do you keep yourself motivated in going back to run Comrades and Two Oceans year after year for 22 years?
Ian: Both Comrades and Two Oceans are great events to take part in. Both have great atmosphere, really good crowd spirit so I always enjoyed just being part of the occasion, and that has kept me going back year after year.
Ripley: What would be the advise you would give to someone thinking of running the world’s oldest ultramarathon, the Comrades Marathon?
Ian: Get a training plan off the internet (Comrades website has some) and stick to it as best you can. Find some hills to train on and do it religiously.
Ripley: Which is easier in the Comrades Marathon? The up run or the down run?
Ian: Both up and down are very tough races. I find the up slightly less hard at the end as the big downhills on the down run punish your quads, so by the time you get to Pinetown your legs really hurt and you still have a long way to go.
Ripley: Any difference in running in South Africa, Great Britain and Singapore? How do you find the running scene in Singapore like?
Ian: Apart from the obviously different weather (hot and humid in Singapore, cold and wet in UK, and sunny and warm in South Africa), the people are the same mix of enthusiast with varying abilities and the same injuries. South African runners talk more during races than in Singapore or UK. The running scene in Singapore looks pretty healthy to me, plenty of people out training everywhere.
Ripley: Do you find any differences in how the race pack collection and races are held in Singapore as compared to South Africa or Great Britain?
Ian: You collect your race pack way in advance while most overseas races are either on the same weekend or on the day itself.
Ripley: You completed the Adidas King of the Road, Singapore edition few weeks ago. What was your view on the race?
Ian: Very hot for me, but really enjoyed it. Thought it was extremely well organized from the buses to the start, the watering points, the bag drop and the finish area – the tent with the fans was a real bonus. ☺ And such a huge crowd for a 10mile race, much more than I am used to seeing.