Tom Evans placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables, the highest ever placing by a British male. His result was a complete surprise. He arrived on the start line an unknown, by the end of day one he was a dark horse turning the heads of journalists and runners.
It was no one day wonder. Evans matched the Moroccans stride-for-stride and pushed them all the way to the end. His result was a breakthrough performance!
Not happy to become a multi-day specialist, Evans has since tested himself in mountain races, the Eiger Ultra 101km and the CCC – in both races he placed 4th. With a road marathon coming up, Evans now looks ahead to 2018 and a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (HERE) where he will coach and run, quickly followed by the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.
I caught up with Evans and fired of ten quick-fire questions.
Images from the 2017 TCC with Anna Frost, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Elisabet Barnes, Chema Martinez, Tom Owens and many more.
- You placed 3rd at MDS this year, quite a result, what has the following months been like for you?
It’s been pretty crazy since that surprise result at MdS. This year, I wanted to find out more about my running and really learn what my strengths and weaknesses are. I raced in the Eiger 101km and the CCC. Both went really well considering 95% of my training is done in and around London. I have been juggling my military career with my new-found love of running.
- How did you train for MDS and what top 3 tips worked that you can pass on?
My training for MdS was pretty limited as I was away with the Welsh Guards in the build-up to the race. I managed to get a week long trip to Lanzarote to focus on the race and get some quality miles in my legs. My top 3 tips are:
- Train how you race. Train with the kit and food you are going to use.
- Heat acclimatisation is so important. It can be done anywhere hot eg Bikram yoga!
- Stay injury free. If you start developing a niggle, get it sorted ASAP! Better to turn up less fit but injury free.
- You have followed MDS with mountain races, the Eiger and CCC, is this to broaden your skill set – what is the attraction?
Yes. I wanted to develop my running skills in all different environments. I love being in the mountains and discovering new places. The mountain races have really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I think to be a top quality ultra-runner you have to be a well-rounded athlete. I have learnt so much in the mountains that I will use in the rest of my career.
- Technical trails, climbing and challenging terrain will be in abundance in Costa Rica, is that one of the attractions of the race?
I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I love traveling and I also love running so thought that this was a perfect opportunity. I am really looking forward to the varied terrain in the race and pushing myself to the limit.
- What else attracts you to TCC?
TCC is an iconic race that attracts a great crowd. I have loved spending time getting to know lots of different athletes in the past 6 months. I love that everyone has come from a different background and all have such different stories to tell.
- Heat and humidity in Costa Rica is brutal, very different to MDS and other races you have done – how will you prepare?
I am going to be doing lots of my winter training at St Marys University who have got one of the best chambers in the country. This will help me to understand the effect of humidity and heat on my body. I am also going to Lanzarote for the Pre-MdS training camp. This will give me a great opportunity to do some heat training in great company.
- You are not self-sufficient at TCC so you can run free – is that an appeal or do you like self-sufficiency?
I am really looking forward to being able to run free and use the aid stations. I have heard great things about what is on offer at the aid stations, especially fruit, which is far more appealing to another energy gel! Having said that, I do like all the preparation for the self-sufficiency races. I am a bit of a sports science nerd and like doing all the research before the races.
- Any races before TCC?
Yes, I am in my final block of training for Frankfurt Marathon. I am using this to focus on my speed and efficiency before going back to the longer distances. There are a couple of great UK races in December and January that I will probably look to use for training. I will also be racing the XC season, I think the fast training is really important, even for ultra-runners. I don’t want to race too much though, I want to make sure that I am fit and injury free on the start line in Costa Rica so I can give it my all.
- What does the future hold beyond Costa Rica?
There are a couple of big races that I am targeting for 2018. The first being the World Trail Championships in Penyagolosa in May. After that, I am going to be focussing on fast 100k races, with ambitions to race in the 100km World Championships in September. I will also be doing a couple of UTWT and Skyrunning races, but haven’t fully worked out which ones. There are so many amazing races all over the world but I don’t want to race too much too soon!
- And finally, Michael Wardian from the USA has won TCC and placed 3rd at MDS – he is back in 2018, is the battle on?
Michael is a fantastic athlete and one of my inspirations to get into running. It will be a honour to be on the start line with him in Costa Rica. I am really looking forward to the journey and I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!
The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.
TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.
You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE
The Coastal Challenge
Website (UK) HERE
Website (Global) HERE