Ben is TORQ's research specialist. He holds a 1st class honours degree in Sports Science and is currently completing the highly regarded IOC Diploma in Sports Nutrition.
Here at TORQ, we have recently started putting together a Performance Trail Running Team to go alongside the TORQ Trail Team, which has recently been featured in Trail Running Magazine. Much like our Performance Triathlon and Mountain Bike Team, the line-up will be made up of domestic athletes at the top of their game. We are pleased to announce the first athlete on the team as Tracey Dean...
“Inspired by a friend to pick up the running baton again I did so in 2010 and ran and ran and ran with it. In fact I ran so far that I found my way in to the world of mountain and ultra distance trail running.”
“I was 'sporty' in my youth; I was doing anything that involved physical mobility and movement. I represented the school in dance and athletics, primarily running cross country, 1500m and relay. I faired well in both areas, however fell off the pathway during my latter teens and hung up the pumps and the 'jazz shoes'. Over the years, I experienced other sports, spending five years kick boxing reaching a high level before again taking off the gloves.”
“I adore the outdoors. For years I've wanted to find a cave to live in and survive off the 'fat o the lan' experiencing the natural environment in its truest form. Now my son has grown into a fine young man, perhaps I’m in a better position to do that? The point is that running has taken me closer to the serenity, peaceful and humbling place that feels like home. My first mile run in 2010 had me believing that I was incredibly unfit and, further, that I was hungry to do it again. I had friends that were running and so, little by little, I ran further and before long I was training with a passion. I would regularly tag along with other runners on short fell runs. However, my risk taking nature saw me attempt 18 miles over trail and fell with a friend who was regularly running on this type of terrain. You can't liken this type of running to road and tarmac; eighteen miles took 4 and a half hours. It's a different beast with the ascending and descending and the conditions under foot. The experience took me to a place where every ounce of ego was stripped from me and I was left with a rawness that I'd not seen for a long time. My legs were screaming, I was in pain, I was tired, I was cold, my nose was running and I didn't care, I was shaking from lack of fuel, I was moaning and fighting tears. It was true grit, and ultra trail and fell running does this trick; you forget the challenges that you put yourself through the week/day before, you are left with an underlying feeling that something great happened during that last 38 mile run over the beautiful mountains. Why can't you remember.....because you are so in the moment that nothing else matters. You are experiencing nature, you are listening to your footsteps, you are responding and adapting your movements over the technical terrain, you are pushing and pulling, flying and plodding, shuffling and skipping and dancing. Why would you not want to do it again?”
“So, in the three years that I've been running, I started to compete about 18 months ago. The folks that I've been dragged around the mountains by are strong experienced fell runners. I have had to 'keep up'. I'm proud and I'm a 'fighter' so, not wanting to be left behind (see proud fighter), I kept up and believed that I might actually try myself in competition. I tried a half marathon on the road and then two full marathons. I disliked the distance and had no idea what I was doing in terms of pacing and fuelling; it was a disaster. However, rather than leave me demoralised, I knew I could do better than this. So, I trained some more. I started to enter longer distances as, during training, I found that It usually takes me 2-3 hours to 'warm up' then I find my groove and can keep going and going. I started to win mini mountain marathons in a mixed team and believed that I could fair well in single events. I targeted a few races and poured my heart and soul into them. Training on the terrain, racking up the miles, cross training and getting into my fuelling and strengthening. Mountain and trail running is my life; I live and breathe it. I won my first major race in 2012, the Lakeland 50 miles race - I smashed the women’s record and it left me hungry for more. I knew I'd barely scratched the surface of my capacity and it left me eager to continue. My last race, 'the Hoka Highland Fling' in Scotland, gave me the title of the UK's Ultra trail running champion and gave me a selection to represent Great Britain in the World Ultra Trail Championships in July 2013.”
Home: Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire
Favourite Place to Travel: Where the mountains are.
Favourite Food: Things that grow and can be picked
Favourite Read: 'Feet in the Clouds' by Richard Askwith, Robert Macfarlane
Favourite Artists: Devendra Banhart, John Butler, Oh Land, The Lumineers, (too many)
Inspiration and motivation: Realising your own potential and giving yourself the best chance to bring it to fruition. Falling at the first hurdle is the motivation to do it again now that you are wise enough to understand why you made yourself fall in the first time around.
How I Relax: 8 hours running in the mountains
We are hughely proud to welcome an athlete of Tracey’s calibre to the team and look forward to following her racing over the coming season. Shortly after this report was written, Tracey was selected and went onto race the World Trail Running championships in Llanwsrt, North Wales, so look out for the report from that soon.