We recently caught up with friend of the magazine, Tobias Mews, who has put pen to paper and written about many of the most iconic races that he has done, to find out more about him and what inspires him as a runner and a writer.
Hi Tobias. First of all, can you tell us how the idea for your new book came about?
I’d always wanted to write this book. Having done almost 200 races (from cycle sportives to Ironman triathlons), it just seemed like the natural progression – to write a sort of racing memoir. By chance, I was approached by Robin Hervie (author of Why We Run) who at the time was working at Aurum Press, to see if I was interested. Besides being flattered that they should ask me, it was a no-brainer to say yes!
You are someone who puts their body on the line when it comes to writing about running and adventures. Have you always been like that?
The simple answer is ‘No’. It’s all happened by accident. I didn’t really start running properly until I was 31 (I’m now 38). I’d just left the Army and was looking for a new identity. So I took up ultra running. That was back in 2008 – which was when I also signed up for the Marathon des Sables.
In the past you have tackled some pretty iconic races yourself. What would you say have been the most challenging and rewarding?
It’s incredibly difficult to answer. Almost every race has offered something different from 1 milers along the Mall to muddy obstacle course races. But I think the ones that stick out the most are the OTILLO, Dragon’s Back Race, GODZone and UTMB.
We seem to be seeing massive growth in runners wanting to go beyond the traditional running distances and explore more and more extreme distances and places. What do you think about that?
There was a time when running a marathon was enough to impress your mates down the pub, but nowadays it doesn’t cut the mustard – not unless you’re running one super fast. There is obviously a supply and demand thing going on – where as more and more people run these races, more new ones keep appearing. Of course, a big factor is that people are discovering that if they can run 26.2 miles, then they can probably run 30, etc.
And then there’s the fact that trail running is, in my humble opinion, ‘sexier’ than road running. With 90% of the population living in an urban environment, getting outside and onto the trails is an endorphin rush. Add in a map and compass and you’ve got yourself a fully fledged adventure.
If you could pick only one more race to do yourself, which one would it be and why?
Just one? That’s so mean. And rather hard to choose. I guess it would have to be something properly epic and an environment that I’d not been to before – which means it would have to be a cold race – probably the Yukon Artic Ultra or similar. If you’re going to hurt yourself, you might as well do it properly and go out with a bang.
Finally, if there are readers of Like the Wind who are looking for inspiration for their own running challenges, what would you suggest that they do or go or read to get fired up?
Firstly, read my book! Second, enter a race. Try to choose one that is slightly beyond your current abilities. That’s the only way to get better – by striving to go further, faster or higher. And by having a goal set in stone in the diary, you’re committed. Some people follow training plans (I don’t), but the best way to prepare for an event is to make your ‘training’ fun. See it as part of your lifestyle not a chore that you have to fit in daily. Run with friends, creating DIY challenges, enter other races as preparation. My motto has always been ‘Race to Train’ which means one race is training for another.
50 Races To Run Before You Die, by Tobias Mews with a foreword by James Cracknell, will be out on 3 March 2016 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Published by Aurum Press. You can find out more about Tobias at www.tobiasmews.com or follow him on Twitter – @tobiasmews.