Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade reports from the TORQ Trail Team assessment day in London
There’s a whole new concept in trail running teams coming and it’s going to be awesome! The objective is to build a trail team with all the benefits of a professional team, with kit sponsorship, nutritional and training support, but it will be made up of non-elite athletes. I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’ as this can rarely be applied to people who run ultras in snow and rain and cover distances that would make you quite tired in a car. But this new trail team will be less Kilian and Lizzy, more, well, me and you.
TORQ sports nutrition are on board as the sponsor of the team (although they are looking for others as well) and what a fantastic brand to be involved with. They only use natural ingredients, there is nothing artificial in their products, they research rigorously and use the latest developments to give their athletes that extra edge, all with a focus on long-term health.
Photos: Positivity is catching! Stuart Mills and runners at the TORQ Trail Team assessment day in London © Roy Belchamber
Potential members of the team were asked to apply with a bio, some information about races they have done and will be doing this year, and thoughts on why they should be part of the team. These applications were whittled down, a very painful process for the people in charge, and 80-90 athletes invited to attend assessment days in London and Church Stretton.
The venue for the London get-together was the Parliament Hill Lido on Hampstead Heath. Despite the cold weather it was a beautiful venue (though the water didn’t look that inviting) and slowly lots of wiry runners started to appear. Despite being called an assessment day it was really a day to meet the other runners, the people involved in putting the team together, listen to some talks and then, of course, have a run!
The first speaker was Martin from TORQ. As a mountain biker and Ironman athlete he had a very good understanding of the needs of endurance runners and he gave a really interesting and informative talk on nutrition and why TORQ products are so effective. We also got to try a few of them and they taste very good, which has to be priority number one!
Next up was the hugely inspirational Stuart Mills, winner of the Lakeland 100 in 2010, as well as many other ultras, and sports science lecturer. He embodies positivity to the point where he doesn’t use the words ‘pain’, ‘suffering’ or ‘hurt’. He only recognises the word ‘challenge’. He had some very interesting things to say about building confidence in your running, your perceived rate of effort under different circumstances, nutrition, hydration, targets, you name it really. I could have listened to him talk all day long and he has a fascinating blog at http://ultrastu.blogspot.co.uk/.
There was also a talk by Gavin, a physio from Backs and Beyond. Injury is obviously always a big issue for ultrarunners and Gavin gave great advice about making sure you stay symmetrical so that muscles are working in balance. He advocated working individual muscles which you know to be weak, rather than always working sets together (eg on gym machines).
Then it was out for a run on the Heath to top off the day. It was just a short social run and it was hugely enjoyable. It was a fantastic day to meet people, learn from experts and find out more about the TORQ Trail Team programme. It’s a brilliant new concept and I love the idea that non-elite runners can experience the benefits of a professional team and most of all enjoy being part of a team of runners competing in events as a team. I think that most of us are into running because of the camaraderie and the people we meet and this is an unparalleled opportunity for those runners they will pick.
I hope this project is going to be a huge success. If any brands are interested in supporting the team please get in touch with Run247 and we’ll pass your interest along.
Learn more about the TORQ Trail Team and follow the progress of the project here: http://www.facebook.com/TORQRunning
I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners, and I'm an ambassador for WAA Ultra.