Londoner David Hellard has taken part in marathons around the world and holds the course record for Man vs Mountain and Man vs Lakes. In 2016 he finished as the first Brit in the Marathon Des Sables, one of the hardest ultra marathons in the world. He’s even led the London Marathon for 400 meters and beaten Mo Farah twice.
David is the founder of Caffeine Bullet a concentrated caffeine sweet, packed with electrolytes great for athletes and hangovers. He also organises the Beer Belly Running Events including The Great British Beerathon and hosts the Bad Boy Running Podcast interviewing guests about “the weird and wonderful world of running you didn’t know existed“.
Tune in to find out more about how David got into running, his love of caffeine, and what speaking projects and running shenanigans he has coming up.
Oli Russell-Cowan: Were you looking at marathons at that time or was it more about going running with mates?
David Hellard: It probably took a year to do a race. It’s interesting now when I think of myself now. I didn’t really train and had no expectations. Walked halfway through, I think I walked at mile seven of my first half marathon and was appalled to be overtaken by a guy in his 60s who he looked like he should be in an old peoples home in my mind at the time.
I got drawn into that whole chasing marathon times and PB’s. I think it’s almost the gold standard for how people measure themselves. It’s very easy to get drawn into that training schedule.
A lot of people who are runners now. They almost set their new year’s day by it. At the beginning of marathon season, I train and I do this and I’m fit for the summer. You get brought into that and tied into that.
But actually and strange enough, a friend we know in common Pete Rees, it turns out. Along that journey, obstacle racing popped up. I quite fancied doing it, because it was just a really vibrant community and also something new and so fun. You just didn’t know what you’d expect on each race, it was still in the days before Tough Mudder and before Spartan, where no one had really settled on what an obstacle race should look like.
So every single race, you turn up, and you’d be running through fields or running down streets, and you’d suddenly see a huge thing in the distance, and you wouldn’t even know what you’re meant to do. Have I got to get over it or get under it.
So that was just so so fun. But then it all became a bit serious, and a bit too difficult for someone who in essence is, you know, just a runner, really. I mean, look at those lack of guns. I kind of got drawn into ultra and have been now loving it.
I’ve been injured for quite a while recently. But I’d say now, probably ultra is the thing that really excites me. But also anything that is really shiny,
‘Anything different, wacky or unusual. I’m almost drawn to a story now more than results or times.’
Oli: We’ve spoken previously about some of the kind of crazy events that we’ve got on Rad Season and the quirky runs. What do you reckon is the appeal for those type of events?
Hellard: I think it’s just that element of unknown. There comes a time where you can improve as a runner, but the amount of hours you’ve got to spend to improve in a marathon a minute and you’re going to have to sacrifice months. What happens if you get a slight niggle or what happens if you trip on a bottle, you’ve not wasted, but you’ve spent four months trying to build up to something. You’re essentially tossing a coin as to whether you’re going to be happy or completely destroyed by the results of this thing that you’re not always in control of.
Whereas these wacky events, similar to you actually. When we first messaged five years ago, we were just enjoying traveling around Europe. Instead of just going to a city and exploring by ourselves, and we’d try and go to a place when it’s at its best. Normally when they’ve got their own huge cultural event.
Before I was traveling around racing, I was traveling going to Tomatina or Pamplona, or Il Paleo or the Oktoberfest. And so when races come along that offer you not only the ability to focus on a bit of training and really challenge yourself to do well. But then everything surrounding it is massive party and massive fun, because most of the quirky events are full of people who either don’t take it too seriously. Or take it way too seriously in quite an endearing way. Or are there just because they are opening themselves up to something completely new. And people who do that in my mind are fun people. And so when you can combine those two together, it’s just the best combination.Last updated on Mar 15, 2021
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