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Damian Hall on the glitz and glamour of UTMB

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Monday 11th September 2017
Tags  UTMB   |   Damian Hall   |   inov-8   |   Contours Trail Running Holidays
 
 
Once he'd got home, and found his keys, we spoke to Damian Hall about his fantastic run at this year's UTMB, where he finished in 12th place and 1st vet. 

1. Can you tell us a bit about your UTMB 2017 experience - any particular highlights?
 
The start is always orgasmic and the crowds were bigger than ever this year. It was well skill running spells with fellow Brits Andy Symonds and Danny Kendall (don't ever try and match him at a soup drinking contest). I always love the night section and though this year lacked a clear sky, the British weather was pleasingly familiar. I was really inspiring to have Nicky Spinks crewing for me (it should be the other way around) and it'd give me a huge lift to see her and the Inov-8 gang. Crowds everywhere were amazing, but most of all at the finish in Chamonix. I'm hugely grateful to them all.

Damo collage 1

2. You seem to have gone up a gear in 2017, building on a successful 2016, with great performances at Lavaredo and UTMB. What have you really worked on this year to get this improvement? Did you get a new watch? A new aerodynamic top? 
 
Thank you. Though I see what you're saying. I have had two ITRA anti-doping tests this year, which both showed I've got unusually low hemoglobin (probably an iron defiiceny – so if I'm cheating anyone, it's myself). [Ed: I was clearly NOT accusing Damian of doping! He is messing with me]. I've been coached by Ian Sharman for 18 months and it's most likely that. He knows stuff. But also improved technique, thanks to Running Reborn's Shane Benzie. My physio Matt Holmes (Pettemerides Personal Training) also gave me some monster strength sessions after an Achilles niggle in the winter. I also didn't run the 630-mile South West Coast Path this year, which has left me fresher. But come to think of it, some of Inov-8's fancy new clobber is pretty aerodynamic. And I have the same ace Suunto Ambit3 Peak.
 
3. How did you celebrate your UTMB success?
 
Initially by hugging anyone unfortunate enough to be in a 1-mile radius. Then shivering at a bus stop for 30 mins. I can't remember the next bit. But at 4am I was emptying the fridge. The next day I got to stand on a podium, because I'm old. Then it was a long journey home with very tired kids and delayed flights, culminating in unpacking all our gear at 2am in the rain outside our house because I couldn't find the keys. Yep, it's all champagne and strippers at the near-top.
 

damo kids

4. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when you ran down the finishing straight. What did your kids say when you grabbed them to accompany you on the final metres? 
 
I couldn't hear them to be honest. And they were a bit fed up of waiting, in the rain and cold. So it was mostly likely "About time too, Pooh Head." Later my three-year-old son asked "Do you have to do UTMB every time we come to France Daddy?". I said, "YES!", obviously, and signed him up for boarding school.
 

Damo Nicky

5. What was it like having Nicky Spinks as crew/camera woman/your helper for the day? 
 
AMAZING. Unknown to me at the time, she sprinted 1km from a car stuck in traffic with my heavy crew bag – only to miss me at Contamines (my fault, I was ahead of splits). She had a spat with staff who were allowing crews for better-known runners to set-up, but not her. Better still, she magicked a bowl of delicious salty chips out of thin air, just like Jesus (#nickyisjesus). Plus you can’t really whinge about a chafe in the bathing suit area to someone who runs Double Bob Graham Rounds in record time can you? 
 
6. What’s next for you? What events are on your radar for the rest of this year/next year? 
 
For the first time in about 4 years I have no races planned. I'm going to have some time off, then pick 3-4 painfully lumpy races for next year. UTMB for a fourth time? Oh crap. Don't ask me that...

All images courtesy of Matt Brown/inov-8
 
 
Damian Hall is an outdoor journalist and trail ultramarathon runner who's supported by Inov-8 and Contours Trail Running Holidays. You can find more of this sort of hogwash on his Facebook, Twitter (@damo_hall), Instagram (ultra_damo) and Strava accounts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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