What Sailors Look Like

Join us to find out what Sailors Look Like with guest blogger James Elson joins us in between sailing trips to the Caribbean and intensive training for his next running event.

Tell us more about the style of running you do

I run principally ultra-distance events, that refers to anything over a marathon in distance, though I enjoy road marathons too. The events I compete in principally now are quite varied. In the last four years or so I have specialised in 24hr timed events where you aim to complete as much distance as you can usually on a small looped circuit or even a running track, over a 24hr period. I have represented Team GB twice and have a PB (personal best) of just over 151 miles. I also compete in long distance trail events, usually 100 milers (non-stop) and have completed 20, most on very hilly or mountainous terrain. Some of the bigger and better-known races I’ve competed in include the Barkley Marathons, Badwater 135, UTMB, Western States 100, Leadville 100, Spartathlon, Marathon Des Sables and Comrades. Over the last 15 years I’ve finished ultras on all 7 continents including Antarctica.

How much training and what type of training do you do? 

I average around 100 miles/14 hours of running per week during the buildup to events. Usually on local roads and trails but often Also in the Lake District and Snowdonia, two of the jewels of the UK.

How long have you been running like this?

I started running long in 2005, and have completed well over 150 marathons and 75 ultra in that time.

What does running mean to you?

It’s my main hobby, how I relax, the thing that I enjoy the most but also the way we earn a living as a family, and a hugely important community that we are involved in.

Do you run competitively?

Yes, all the way up to international level

What other sports do you do?

In the past I’ve been most successful at cricket and tennis (both county level) but more recently golf. Sailing was a big part of my life in my teenage years.

When did you first go sailing?

I was 13 when I went on my first boat; bareboat in the BVI.  It was a 54ft beast called Buds Four.

How competent a sailor are you?
I know my way around a boat and am proficient at certain skills but I would not skipper alone.

Are there any comparisons between running and sailing?

I think the principal of both is the same, it’s just you, nature and making a safe and successful journey by keeping it as simple as possible. Long haul sailing and endurance running, particularly in the mountains or the desert, obviously hold a lot in common, both are tests of perseverance, overcoming difficulties, problem solving, experiencing nature in its rawest form.

What are the major differences you have found between your running career and your sailing?

Running is an incredibly simple exercise. Lace up a pair of shoes and you’re off, from anywhere, anytime. With sailing that holds true if you live near the coast.

What motivates you to sail? 

Experiencing the power of the ocean. Being in nature, getting away from the crowds/other people, and striving to sail better and learn more about how to work with and read conditions

What do you love about sailing? 

The freedom it offers to travel to new places that can be so hard to reach any other way.

If you could use three words to describe your sailing experiences, what would they be?

Freedom, fun, relaxation


James Elson photograph credit Stephen Ashworth

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