Top sky and mountain runner Robbie Simpson has joined some of the UK’s finest trail, fell and mountain running talent at the Salomon Trail Team UK for 2014, bolstering the team to be one of the strongest domestic trail teams in the world. With such talent as Ricky Lightfoot, Tom Owens, Angela Mudge, Andy Davies and Emma Clayton already on the UK team, Simpson’s addition to the squad for 2014 will create even more interest for the team on the UK and global stage.
The world-class team of UK athletes will be unveiled at Coed y Brenin, Wales this weekend, as the 11-strong team meets for the annual training and product summit, along with its fledgling squad of five junior athletes, Salomon Avenir.
The full line-up of the UK-based team for 2014 is:
2014 Salomon Trail Team UK
Salomon Avenir line-up for 2014
Speaking about his move back to the team which helped kick-start his international career some 4 years ago, Simpson states:
“Over the summer I was in the Alps for four months and started seeing some of the new Salomon range at a lot of big races. A few months later a conversation at a wedding with Tom Owens was what got things started. He suggested trying some of these shoes I’d seen to see how I found them. My feet are a bit strange so I wasn’t sure if they would get on well with them. After trying the Sense Ultra I knew it was the perfect shoe for mountain racing and it suited my feet really well. I tried some of the other new shoes like the Fellcross and got on very well with that too. After that I knew it was the right decision. I was very fortunate that Salomon were prepared to give me a chance on the team for 2014.
“It will be great to be working with some of the world’s top mountain and trail runners. I would say already I’ve been learning from these athletes for at least five years now and they have been definitely helped me develop. Angela (Mudge) has won pretty much every race I’ve competed in whether in Scotland or Europe so she knows so much about how everything works. Her knowledge has been very valuable to me and I still have a lot to learn. Tom and Ricky also have a lot of experience and I am very keen to learn from them too; especially about the long mountain and trail races which they are so good at. I’m hoping I can continue to improve and be a strong addition to the team.”
Commenting on some of the changes to the product in the last few seasons Robbie is impressed with what he has seen to date:
“Lots of very great kit has been developed in the last few years! Now there is a great range of off road shoes that can cope with anything from fast smooth trails to thick mud and fells. Previously the range was a bit restricted so there was a lack of a very light racing shoe or a very aggressive fell shoe; this has changed now. The Sense Ultra is one of my favourite shoes that I have tried and I look forward to using it on the mountains this season. It’s incredibly light and fast but has enough grip for most conditions. I’ve run up big hills on rough terrain in the shoe but also set road PB’s in it! I think this would be perfect for most Alpine races with reasonably good trails and also for flat races.
“The Fellcross is another great shoe that gets taken out for the really wet or muddy conditions. It has very aggressive grip and is also very comfortable on long runs. I think it would be the best shoe for most UK hill and fell races. As well as these I have tried the Fellraiser which is another shoe with very good grip but it also copes well with firmer ground like forest tracks. It’s perfect for runs of mixed terrain where you need good grip and it is very comfortable.”
After another very strong season in 2013 which saw the Scot pull-off a tremendous 5th place finish at the world-renowned Sierre-Zinal race, Robbie has spent some time this winter honing his speed on the roads of Scotland, with PBs and wins at such events as the Cupar 5 (24:02) and a win at the Inverness Half Marathon (66:03) only this weekend. Looking ahead to the coming year he concludes:
“The aim is to run at the European and World championships plus some other big mountain races like Sierre Zinal once again. Last year I was very happy with my season in the Alps but this year I want to perform even better. I’m planning to go to the Alps for a few months over the summer so I can focus on preparing well and get used to racing against some of the world’s best. In the months before then I will be aiming to improve my road PB’s and also to do a few hill races to get in as good shape as possible.”
Commenting on Simpson’s addition to the team for 2014, team co-ordinator Matt Ward states:
“We are very pleased to see Robbie back with Salomon in 2014. He was on the squad as a teenager, which was perhaps a little young for someone to be thrown into a brand team with so many top-class internationals and this is one of the reasons that we brought in the Avenir squad project with senior team ‘mentors’. Robbie is now 22 and has matured over the last 2-3 years to be one of the UK’s brightest trail and mountain running talents, so naturally we are very happy to have secured him on the team for the coming season.
“However, the UK team is much more one one athlete. We have some of the best athletes in the world on the team for 2014 and Robbie will hopefully gel into what has been a phenomenal set-up under the guidance of Tim Lloyd over the last decade or so. This weekend we will all meet in Wales to discuss the season ahead, look at product from our main sponsors Salomon, Suunto, Petzl, Super Feet and Kinetica, share some runs on the amazing trails of Coed y Brenin, and hopefully have a little fun whilst we are at it!”