Ultrarunner Tom Evans prepares for his biggest race at Olympic marathon trials
Like many, ultrarunner Tom Evans has struggled with the lack of races in lockdown. The former army captain burst onto the ultrarunning scene in 2017, coming third in the six-day Marathon des Sables, and last year he set a new record in the Tarawera 102km Ultra Marathon, in New Zealand. But he has had to adapt to circumstances and is now setting his sights on the marathon in the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
We talked to the 29-year-old about swapping the trails for the pavements, his mental strength, the Olympic marathon trials and his role as a Garmin ambassador.
You’ve set your sights on the Tokyo Games. How did this happen?
‘At the beginning of the pandemic, Tokyo was not on my list whatsoever – I very much planned on staying on the trails and running long rather than running fast. I guess what the pandemic has taught me is that I like structure and I’m a very goal-orientated athlete and person. I have to have goals, whether it’s “Today I’m going to list 10 things on eBay” or something bigger; I have to set goals and achieve those goals. It’s the same with my running, with there being so little opportunity to race, I thought I need something to set my sights on and if something is going to happen, it’s going to be the Olympics.
‘[With the lockdown restrictions] we couldn’t drive to run or go on training camps, which is how I would normally do my trail running and my ultrarunning. It’s all been very much running from the door, so I’ve been running a lot more on the road, which has led to running a bit quicker and that’s opened my eyes to what I could run at the marathon trials at the end of next month.’ [The event will take place on a looped course in Kew Gardens, London, on Friday, March 26.]
How do you feel about the trials?
‘I’m really excited – for me, it’s really unknown. I think I’ll be able to take a lot of lessons I’ve learnt from ultrarunning into the race and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. It’s been great fun training for it and to now get the opportunity to push myself to the limits and see what I’m capable of.’
‘You know that during a marathon you’re going to hurt and you know that when it starts to hurt, the training that you have done before is what’s setting you up to keep doing it. I go into a race saying, “I know this is going to hurt” and when it starts hurting I think, “Bring it on; I’ve done the training, I trust myself and I knew this was going to happen and now it’s happening, it’s no surprise.”’
posted Tuesday February 16th
by Jane McGuire