October 28, 2020 | Written by: Sensia
This week we’re showcasing Mike Nash, originally from Johannesburg now based in the UK. Not only is he an excellent Engineering Manager, but he is also an incredible ultra-distance runner which requires phenomenal physical and mental endurance.
Mike explains that his life outside of work revolves heavily around running, and a lot of his training and motivation is centred on races. But with races cancelled this year due to COVID he turned to intrinsic motivation and took on two extraordinary and ambitious challenges.
Mike’s first feat was the Bob Graham Round; a challenging 102km loop starting and finishing in Keswick in the beautiful Lake District, North of England. Including 42 peaks and over 8,000m of vertical gain with no set path, Mike also needed to navigate for himself. Even more impressively, it had to be completed in under 24 hours!
This challenge began in 1932 and to date, less than 2000 people have completed it. Of those, only around 1/3 who start it complete it in under the required 24 hours. This is no ordinary challenge, there is no set path, so the runners must rely on their own navigation skills as well as incredible fitness and endurance.
Usually runners would be encouraged to have pacers who navigate and mule for them, but not in 2020. This was a solo event and Mike’s only support was his girlfriend Katy who supported him at the road crossings.
“I set off at 3am with freshly tapered legs, plenty of snacks, my girlfriend Katy as support at the road crossings, and the nervous excitement that comes with knowing that a wonderful big effort is ahead. 20 hours 34 minutes later I touched the door of the Moot Hall, back in Keswick, having completed a wonderful journey around some incredible mountains, steep hills, rocky trails, bogs and scree.” Mike Nash.
He makes it sound so easy! He really is an elite mountain runner completing the challenge in only 20 hours and 34 minutes.
We know his work for us is fantastic, but we think Mike might be superhuman.
Just six weeks later he completed the eyewatering Trail of the Dukes of Savoy (TDS); a 145km route from Courmayeur to Chamonix in France, with over 9,000m of vertical gain.
This time Mike had a friend running with him as he thought it “sounded like the perfect way to spend a day, catching up with an old friend, occupying time in the mountains.”
Again, he persuaded Katy to support them, but at a more human start time of 6am. Neither of the runners had done any of this course before and didn’t know what to expect. All they knew was it had a reputation for being a difficult race. Driving 145km is hard enough, never mind running it!
Mike’s thoughts on the day:
“As with most, if not all, ultras where you are pushing personal boundaries, there were highs, and lows. All the while feeling incredibly lucky to be able to experience the absolute joy of moving through the mountains under your own energy. Watching an amazing sunset from a mountain pass, running through the night and witnessing the sunrise; with it the warmth and alertness that has slowly faded during the night-time hours.
We arrived in Chamonix 29 hours 20 min later, a much different experience to my Bob Graham, where I had only myself for motivation and strength during the low moments. Being able to share this with a friend changes the nature of the challenge, and both are equally special in their own way.”
Just 29 hours and 20 minutes to run 145km through the French Mountains!
Here at Sensia, we are in awe of his extraordinary strength and determination. We all go the extra mile, but Mike takes it to the extreme!
So glad he is on our team.