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Bears, cougars and wading through rivers; the life of an ultra-marathon man
11:00am Friday 29th June 2012 in News
BEARS, cougars and a chest-high river crossing were just some of the potential hazards facing Andrew Findley when he completed one of the world’s toughest ultra-marathon races.
The 50-year-old businessman from Branksome Park in Poole, was one of only four Britons (out of a total of 412 athletes) who took part in The Western States 100, a non-stop 100-mile race in California at the weekend.
“It was an incredibly tough race but an amazing experience,” says Andrew.
“The beauty of the wilderness was stunning and the friendliness and encouragement of the 1,500 aid station volunteers has to be seen to be believed.”
The father of two completed the race in 21 and a half hours – well within the 30 hour cut off time.
The Western States 100, one of the most prestigious ultra races, is the equivalent of running from Bournemouth to London through a mountain wilderness with the highest peak at eight and a half thousand feet. Temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees but for the first time in the history of the event, runners had to endure torrential rain in near freezing temperatures for the first seven hours.
Runners are also allowed pacers after 60 miles – mainly for safety reasons. Last year some contenders were stopped in their tracks by a bear and had to wait until it moved on.
“Fortunately we didn’t see any bears or cougars but we kept talking loudly hoping to alert any wildlife that might have been lurking in the forests,” Andrew adds.
Last year he competed in the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB) a trail race spanning 105 miles with 30,000 feet of climbing through France, Italy and Switzerland.
Although Andrew only started ultra-distance running two years ago, he was the fifth fastest British runner. Half of the 2,500 runners didn’t even make it past the finishing line.
Last month he won Dorset’s toughest ultra marathon The Oner, a 78-mile race along the coastal path from Lyme Regis to Sandbanks.
“The great thing about ultra running is that it’s not just about how fit you are – it’s also about what’s going on inside your head too.”