Last week 2 of the athletes I coach Allan Anderson and Andy Day lined up at the iconic 153 mile Spartathlon in Greece.
The Spartathlon is my favourite race, it follows the footsteps of the Greek Messenger Pheidippides from Athens to Sparta. I have been lucky enough to run and finish this race twice myself, I know how hard it is, often billed as the hardest race on Earth.
Allan and Andy had slightly different goals going into this but the end goal is always to finish it, so many don’t!
Andy and I have been on this journey twice before, I started coaching Andy leading up to his first Spartathlon 3 years ago, he accomplished his goal that year of finishing the race. The following year he wanted to go faster, we adapted the training, always in a progressive manner, with the fitness comes confidence and Andy went into his next one in far better shape than the first and chipped a good amount off his finish time.
This year Andy had his sights set higher, having won 3 races and podiumed at another 3 already this year we knew he was in great shape. We spoke back in June and Andy joked about his most recent win being his last trophy of the year, I suggested it may not be, the First British runner at Spartathlon gets a trophy, he laughed it off and reminded me of the talent in the field, don’t be so sure I thought.
Fast forward to last weekend, Andy came into Sparta in 27hours and 53 minutes, as the First British runner. This on a ridiculously hot year too. Although he doesn’t look it, Andy is 52! He is proof that if you put in the work you’ll get your rewards.
Andy asked me yesterday if I think he can go faster… my answer to him, Definitely! If we keep on progressing the training and he continues to respond to it he will continue to improve, yes eventually things must slow down but he has a good few years left yet… Watch this space! Congratulations mate, what a run, an inspiration, I want to be just like you when I grow up 😁
This year I was lucky to be back in Greece for the race, not to run but to crew Allan. Allan has been on quite a journey leading up this, some tricky races, lack of confidence and self belief, and an extremely busy work and family life.
Having worked together for a few years now we’ve chipped away at results, some good 100 mile finishes and then at the beginning of this year a great 24 hour run where he finished 2nd and Tori and I were lucky to be there to crew for him (and make sure he didn’t spend too long resting in the portaloos 😊)
Working with Al is wonderful, he completely trusts the process, is happy to put everything into my hands in terms of his training, and then when we’ve been there to crew him he just wants to be told what to eat, drink, when to sit down, etc. He’s a coaches dream really.
When Allan found out he’d got into the Spartathlon this year it was with mixed emotion, a race that’s been the focus of everything for 4 years the elation of finally getting in but also the doubts about finishing it. I knew that if he did the training and worked on his mindset and belief that he would do it, he covered all bases.
Being there to crew for him alongside Tori (my wife and worlds best crew 😊) and Jamie (Jamie is a mutual friend and introduced Al to the Spartathlon 4 years ago) was a wonderful experience, I knew by being there he would get it finished, he would trust us and the process.. That’s exactly what he did with plenty of time to spare.
As a surprise Allan’s wife Claire and his two sons Murray and Arthur were waiting at the finish line for him.. The best finish he could have asked for!
Al… What a journey we’ve shared, your mental toughness and focus to get this done is something I’ll always try to tap into in my own races. What a run and what a finish, I couldn’t be happier for you mate and can’t wait to see where we go next, the future is exciting ❤️
Finishing the Spartathlon cannot be underestimated, the starting field is made up of 380 of the best ultra marathon runners on the planet, only 46% of them finished this year! Andy Day and Allan Anderson were 2 of them!
As a coach and a friend I couldn’t be prouder.
I say it all the time, being a coach and getting results for athletes is easy when the athlete listens, follows the plan, and puts in the work! These guys make my job easy!
Congratulations also to all other finishers in the race, you were all amazing and some big inspirations for me watching and being there seeing the suffering throughout. Sorry to those that didn’t finish, there’s no shame in not finishing this race! Im sure you’ll be back…
As for me, I won’t be crewing at the Spartathlon next year, I’ll be racing, perhaps with Allan and Andy 😉