The next member of the TrainAsONE team we want to introduce you to is Grant Vernon!
Not many people can claim to have found their passion at their stag do, but Grant can! After a very active childhood and having dabbled in triathlon, OCR and half marathons Grant decided to take on the Jurassic Coast Challenge with some friends for his last blast as a single man – “3 marathons over 3 days along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset … for my stag party! Having never run a marathon this was being thrown in the deep end! However, it didn’t put me off, since then I’ve chalked up in excess of 25 marathons and ultras with distances up to 100 miles.”
Grant was hooked and soon he was roping even more friends into his adventures. “I’m always looking for the next big challenge and I hope that I inspire people with my crazy adventures. If you ask my colleagues, I think they’d agree that I’ve had an positive effect on them. Several have taken up running and a couple have now completed ultras. The most notable being an unfit smoker and drinker who I turned around (by way of consistent nagging 😉 from non-runner to ultra-runner! I still live in the South of England with my wife Kate, our dog Monty and horse Harry. When I’m not dealing with information security issues in my IT support role you’ll find me out running the woodland trails on my doorstep and racing anywhere that has hills and beautiful views.”
Grant was an early adopter of TrainAsONE, so he felt it was a no brainer to apply to the team. “I’d had lots of success with the system and I couldn’t help but shout about it. A number of friends and colleagues are all using it now after they’ve seen how passionate I am about it. When the opportunity to apply for the team came up, it was a no brainer as I loved being involved with the system and seeing it grow. Applying to be part of the team was my chance get further involved with the TAO journey as it went from strength to strength. Also having the chance to train with and get advice from the likes of Natalie, Robbie & Ben was a money can’t buy opportunity. The #TrainAsONEteam represented an opportunity for me to take my training to the next level.”
And how did he find his time out in Chamonix with the team? “For me one of the major highlights was the mountain hike. That was a really interesting morning for me, getting to pick everybody’s brains and get some really personal-focused advice. Chatting with Renee made the nutrition advice I had read previously more tangible. You can read as many books as you like but you can’t beat getting the information first hand. As a result I had a bit of epiphany which changed my whole view on nutrition on my return to the UK and I was able to actually toss out some of my foodie hang ups. It was very refreshing and most rewarding.”
Grant has a number of great ultra finishes to his name, including London to Brighton, the Beacons Ultra and the South Downs Way 100. However, as he recently found, ultras don’t always go to plan. “The inaugural Rebellion Ultra by Up Hill Down Dale was 135mile self navigation trail race along the Glyndwrs trail in mid-Wales that started at 7pm at night. I ended up retiring from the event with an injury at 76 miles after 27 hours of rain, hail, wind, fog, muddy fields, soggy moorland, hills, hills and more hills. The winner, a very experienced runner, nailed the course in 41 hours! 2nd place made it home in 49hours which gives you an idea of the difficulty.”
Grant is a pretty upbeat and philosophical chap, so he didn’t get too downhearted about the DNF. Instead he focussed on what he could learn from it. “I took a lot away from my DNF. I learnt that my mental strength is actually pretty solid. This is something that’s been my weakest link in ultras previously. During this race found I could keep moving even when my body was telling me to stop. I learnt that I could get by on less sleep than I ever envisaged (by the time I stopped I’d been awake for 38 hours!). My spirits were up and the smiles persistent despite the physical discomfort. I also realised that in the big scheme of things the DNF really didn’t matter that much. I’d had such a great time preparing for the challenge and that for the most part the race went well. To get too hung up on the DNF watered down the experience to nothing more than a destination. The cliché about it being the journey really is true. Don’t get me wrong, I was gutted not to finish but there was so much good to take away that I didn’t want to disregard everything that went before it. I’ve had such fantastic support and positive feedback from everyone that the DNF seems trivial by comparison.”
As well as ultras Grant keeps his hand in with road marathons too. He’s got a place in the London Marathon next April, and his goal is “to chop a nice chunk of time off my 2017 Rome marathon time, which was Good For Age for London. That was my first road marathon so is a good measuring stick for how much I can improve.”. His other goals for next year include the Snowdonia Trail Marathon and the Beacons Ultra (which he’s roped his friend into, to celebrate his friend’s 40th). We’re looking forward to seeing how Grant gets on in these races.
To finish off, we gave Grant a few quick fire questions:
1. Who in the TAO team is most likely to get arrested?
Hmmm, tricky, I don’t know about arrested but Carl sounds like he’s a gangster with that surname don’t you think? Carl HARD MAN although that said, his Twitter handle is the polar opposite @boneycarl.
2. What’s on your dream race list, if money and time were no barrier?
Somewhere mountainous, with fantastic mind-blowing views. Probably UTMB, that has to be up there.
3. What’s the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked about ultra running by a non-runner?
Do you know what? I don’t think anyone has asked me anything ridiculous. You get the normal questions like “How far? In one go?” or “When will you sleep” but generally I think it piques peoples interest enough to fascinate them. Ultras are becoming quite mainstream now and I think secretly (and maybe not so secretly) lots of people who run see the appeal of going for these long distance events. Compared to ultra veterans I’m pretty much a newbie, so for all I know, it’s me asking the the ridiculous questions. I’m certainly still learning that’s for sure.