Sky High for Terry Conway
Arguably the man of the moment on the UK ultra scene is Terry Conway. His success at the Lakeland 100 in 2011 with a sub 22 hour finish and course record for what actually is 105 miles of hard running on a super tough course was seen as a break through run.
In 2012 he returned to the Lakeland course buoyant after setting a new course record on another tough course, the 95-mile West Highland Way. His CR at this event was significant as the previous course record was set by no other than Jez Bragg.
So, in late July Terry lined up on the start line in Coniston to run 105 miles of what the English Lakes had to offer. Before the race started it was all ready being touted as a potentially great race. Paul Tierney and Barry Murray would be taking part along with previous winner Stuart Mills. In addition to this was the young upstart Ed Batty who had placed 5th in the 50 mile event the previous year and was coming to the longer race with the intention of running hard.
In the early stages of the race Ed Batty pushed hard while Terry, Paul, Barry and Stuart marked each others moves. With 50 miles covered Ed had over a 30 min lead. Was this young lad going to steal the glory from the experienced guys behind?
In Terry’s words “I needed the loo and didn’t want to go ‘al fresco’ and with the next checkpoint not too far away I upped my pace a little”. This upping of the pace quickly eradicated 20-mins of Ed’s lead and with the blink of an eye a 20 min deficit became a 20 min lead. Running on the terrain that Terry calls ‘home’ he left the chasers behind and in the words of Race Director, Marc Laithwaite, “Terry ran into the finish line at Coniston as though he was finishing a 5k”. Not only did Terry win the race but he annihilated his own course record by 2 hours crossing the line in 19:51 for the 105 mile route.
Nobody doubted Terry’s ability as a runner but this win in that time confirmed for me that he was now at the pinnacle of UK ultra running. I had discussed with Terry what his dream scenario would be. His answer I guess was somewhat predictable;
“To race the best! to take part in Western States, to run UTMB and to take on the Skyrunning ultra series”
This is a dream that we as runners and more importantly as ultra runners all have. However, for pretty much all of us this will always be a dream. In Terry’s case he has the ability to potentially ‘race’ in this environment and therefore if the ability is there then surely a chance should be created…
Making dreams happen
I sent an email and contacted a couple of close friends in the business. I was well aware of an opportunity available for the right person! In actual fact I had personally been asked to ‘look out for’ a possible contender.
An introduction was made, emails were exchanged and I am pleased to say that Terry Conway will now be taking part in the next Ultra Skyrunning race at Cavalls de Vent in the Pyrenees in late September 2012. He will be representing Canadian company Arc’teryx who are slowly progressing into the ultra scene with a new clothing range called Endorphin.
This is incredible news for Terry but it’s also incredible news for the UK ultra community. Terry is a popular guy and I know this news will be welcomed with open arms.
Of course Terry now has some pressure on his shoulders. Not only is he getting the opportunity to race on a wonderful and tough course but he will be going head to head with the likes of Anton Krupicka and Anna Frost. It’s an incredible opportunity.
Following in the foot steps of Jez Bragg, Ian Sharman, Ellie Greenwood, Tom Owens, Andy Symonds, Joe Grant, Lizzy Hawker and Nick Clarke to name but a few of the Brits who are currently dishing it out on the world ultra stage, Terry now has an opportunity to announce himself and hopefully fulfil some of those dreams he has told me about.
He will need some adjustment to this style of racing and of course he will be looking to find his feet at the Cavalls de Vent event.
If he finds his feet, the SKY may very will be the start and not the limit of what he can offer the ultra world!