The Gobi Ultra. A 400km (250-mile) single-stage, self-navigated, self-supported running race. It’s route loosely based on the journey of a seventh-century Buddhist monk Xuanzang and taking in a 3000-metre mountain, all run in temperatures ranging from -20C to 30C.
This what our sponsored super athlete Dan Lawson did and won, and in a record time of 70 hours & 53 minutes smashing the existing record by over 22 hours! We caught up with Dan after the race to find out how he managed such an incredible feat of endurance…
Q: How did you nutritionally prepare for the race? How did Oatopia help?
Dan: The race in the Gobi was self supported which essentially means the organiser just gives you water, so I brought all my food with me. I had to have at least 25,000 calories for the race!! I was able to access my food in drop bags around every 45-50k. The team at oatopia worked with me to produce this ultra flapjack that was basically my food for the whole 3 days, plus some energy drink. The ladies in the kitchen added macca powder to a salted chocolate and banana flapjack. It was delicious pure energy that was my ‘life jack’ for the race. Amazing!!
Q: What motivates you to keep running in the latter stages of a long race when typically – for most humans – the body and brain starts to scream ‘stop!’ Do you experience this?
Dan: My brain shouts STOP! As often as any other runner. Everyone’s brain is constantly shouting. I suppose it’s learning not to ignore it, but to just accept that it’s normal…the mind just wants an easy life! I tend to distract it by looking around at how beautiful the landscape and everything is, and really generating a feeling of gratefulness that I am running this awesome race.
Q: What was the toughest element to the race? The navigation? Terrain? Climate?
Dan: The toughest thing was the sleep deprivation. Counting the day before the race I managed just under 1 hour sleep in 88 hours. By the end of it my head was mush. I was wildly hallucinating and it was becoming increasingly hard not to float off to narnia and lose any anchor I had to reality! Towards the end of the race I had no idea where I was or what I was doing!
Q: How do you feel having completed it and in such incredible record time?
Dan: It’s a nice feeling to get to the end of the race. That was the important thing. Beating the course record was just a plus! It was by far the toughest race I have ever done and it got really gnarly toward the end so I had an immense feeling of satisfaction when I finished.
Q: We love the blue hair! What colour will it be for the next race?!
Dan: Yes blue hair was the choice of my daughter!! Apparently I’m known as the blue devil now in China! Maybe blue is a lucky colour so I might keep it this shade.
Q: As it’s now approaching winter here in the UK, will you be focusing on training and preparing for the 2018 season over the next few months? Or have you more races planned in the near future?
Dan: I have one more race in 2017, a 24hr race in Taiwan where I will try to beat my PB of 262km. Then it’s a bit of rest before into training for 2018 which will involve some shorter faster stuff at the start of the year.
Q: For anyone reading this feeling inspired, is there an ultra-race in the UK or Europe you would recommend for first timers looking to step up from marathon distance?
Dan: The centurion races are great for new ultra runners. The South Downs way 50 miler is a good one or there is a great 55k or 110k in Cornwall called the RAT in August.