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The heat is on for Mimi Anderson

by kirsty
Thursday 31st July 2014

Interview: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade talks to the Marvellous Mimi about her her record breaking run in Cypus and her next challenge

Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade talks to the Marvellous Mimi about her her record breaking run in Cypus and her next challenge

Kirsty Reade: Huge congratulations on your phenomenal run at the Cyprus ultra, where you smashed the course record by five hours and were the first woman ever to complete it. Can you tell us a little bit about the race and the conditions?

Mimi Anderson: Thank you!  The race is held just outside a small village called Vasa Kellakiou, about a 45 minute drive from Limassol up in the hills, absolutely stunning.  The course is made up of two loops, a lower loop that then joins onto the larger upper loop, a total distance of 21km.  The trail itself made of mostly dusty gravely jeep track, some areas of which have huge ditches created by the rain during the winter months which are fine during the day but can be treacherous at night, other sections are very rocky with a huge amount of steep descents and ascents. Some of the descents are extremely steep which ends up playing havoc on your quads!  There are several CP's along the course so loads of water and each competitor has to sign themselves in and out of the main CP at the finish of each loop. 

At the top of the small loop there is a "Get me out of here" point where runners could turn left and head back to the main CP where their race ends, or you turn right to continue along the upper loop (trying to remember to turn right kept me very focused as the race went on!!)

There is no shade along the course and I believe that on the second day the temperatures soared to above 50 degrees!  Once the sun comes up you can feel your energy levels being zapped by the heat. 

Four different races are going on at the same time, a 21km, 50km, 50 miles and 135 miles (217km). I was racing in the 217km event, which meant that I had to run 10 loops and at the end of the 10th loop I had to go out again and do the lower smaller loop before finishing.   

This race was tough for three reasons, the distance, heat and the mental aspect of doing laps added to the challenge.

KR: A lot of people dropped out because of the extreme heat. How do you train for and cope with running in such high temperatures?

MA: The heat was very intense and I could feel my energy levels being drained, especially going up the steep hills.  In the past I would have done some training in a sauna, this worked well for my double crossing of Badwater and various other events, but unfortunately I no longer have access to one.  This time I wore a few more extra layers while out training and tried to do my runs during the hottest part of the day - thankfully we had a few good days of hot weather before I left for Cyprus!

I felt that I did everything right during the race in terms of coping with the heat.  I wore a legionnaires hat, my X-Bionic Fennec top & shorts and a bandana that I had used in Badwater (this I was able to put ice in - a fantastic bit of kit), as well as a Buff on my wrist that I would soak in water at every opportunity.  All these together really helped to keep me cool.  

My electrolytes worked well.  I used Elete in my bottle and every half hour I would take an S-Cap, if I noticed that my hands were beginning to swell up slightly more than usual I would take one more S-Cap but reduced the dose during the evening to one per hour. 

KR: You told me that you were just doing this race as a training run! Had you intended to really go for it or did you just find you felt better than you thought?

MA: I very nearly didn't go out to do the race.  Due to my injury from The Spine race in January my left knee cap keeps twisting outwards causing it to be painful when I run and because I have my big run coming up in September I didn't want to cause any further problems.  However, being a typical Scot I hated the idea of money being wasted so I flew out there (not telling anyone) with the plan of finishing the race in once piece.  

My knee was strapped up and caused no pain at all so my confidence just grew as the race went on and each lap I seemed to feel stronger and better.  As my aim was to finish I had no pressure which was fantastic but very much did my own thing - I actually felt remarkably calm and relaxed, loved it!

KR: You are known for your positivity and enthusiasm. When it gets incredibly tough in races, how do keep yourself positive and motivated to keep going? 

MA: In this particular race I never had a bad moment.  I had an unexpected Irish support team who looked after me, which really helped each time I came into the main CP, fantastic bunch of nutters and made a big difference to me knowing they would be there to cheer me into and out of the CP.  They looked after me beautifully.  

I kept myself positive by thinking about what I would really want to have when I arrived at the CP, initially I thought about fizzy water, this always quenches my thirst then as the race went on I dreamt of iced coffee, so you can imagine my delight when I finished, I think it was lap 4, to have a marvellous cup of iced coffee put in front of me - it felt like a birthday present, so I ran out of the CP feeling like a new woman with a big smile on my face!  

My motivation to keep going was simple - I just kept counting down the laps. I had decided not to use my stopwatch as I didn't need to know the distance as each lap was the same and equally didn't want to be pressured to keep to a certain pace. I knew how long it would take me to get to certain points along the route and if I got there slightly quicker than the previous lap I would give myself a hefty slap on the back and tell myself “good job done Mimi" (sounds daft when you write it down!)  Finishing lap 5 was a big motivator, now I could start counting down!  

If I ever have a really bad patch in a race I will picture the finish line, me running through it with everyone cheering me on and remember that feeling of elation when I finish a race - works well for me.

KR: What's your next challenge? Can you tell us a bit about it and why you are doing it?

MA: My next big challenge starts on the 24th September.  I will be running 2,350km along the Freedom Trail in South Africa together with another marvellous lady Samantha Gash from Australia.  We plan to run approximately 80km per day for 32 days, that's 64 back to back marathons!  The trail itself is technical, requires navigational skills, a level of scrambling, river crossings and quick leg turnover on the flatter sections to cover the necessary distance, so you can see this really is going to be a massive challenge.

The reason for the run is to raise awareness and funds to set up a social enterprise business in the Free State that will employ a dozen women to make re-usable feminine hygiene products - sanitary pads to you and me, with the goal of supporting the girls to remain in education.  1 in 3 South African girls once they reach puberty miss out on 4/5 days of school per month because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads, instead they stay at home and use anything from old rags and newspapers -  in-fact anything they can get their hands on, eventually dropping out of school altogether; can you even begin to imagine being put in that situation?  We are collaborating with Save the Children who will oversee the project and educate on subjects such as Puberty, Menstruation, Safe Sex and HIV.  Our aim is to raise £27,700 to set up the social enterprise business, half of which has already been raised through fund raising events and the very generous donations from people on our Pozible Campaign. 

KR: How does Freedom Runners compare to some of your other big challenges (world record for John O'Groats to Lands End, world record for crossing Ireland on foot, double Badwater, to name a few)?

MA: My other big challenges took a lot of organisation but nothing compared to the work involved in setting up this run. Samantha and I first began talking about this project in August 2012 and since then have worked tirelessly to get this project off the ground.

The logistics required for the run are massive.  Once we got the schedule together, (Andrew King of D4 productions provided us with a huge amount of help on this as he knows the route well) we then needed to sort out accommodation along the route.  This has been done through the Freedom Challenge guys (the Freedom Challenge is a mountain bike race along the same route) who have spent years putting together the route and a huge amount of time getting the support of the local communities.  We will be staying with local farmers or in community houses each evening which will be an amazing experience and will add to the overall feel and atmosphere of the run.  

Other challenges that we have to think about are safety, luckily for us we have been given our own personal protection officer (www.nicholls-steyn.com) who will be with us for the duration, together with fundraising for the expedition side of the event as well as for the social enterprise business - all in all I have found this side of it to be way more of a challenge then the training. 

KR: What are the biggest challenges that you and Sam will face?

MA: One of the biggest challenges Sam and I will face during the run will be the navigation side.  The majority of the route isn't marked, so we will have to map read as we run, this obviously is going to slow us down, mix that in with the difficult terrain we will be covering each day means that we will be out running each day 14hr plus, this will only get longer as the event goes on due to tiredness.

The other issue for the crew is working out where they can meet us as there will be sections each day where the vehicles will have no access.  This is because either the land owners don't allow vehicles on their land, the terrain isn't passable by a vehicle or there are fences in the way which is fine for someone on foot or a bike but obviously not by a car.  They will have to find an alternative route to meet up with us on the other side - not as easy as it sounds as a lot of the roads in the areas we are running aren't marked on a map.  As someone said if they're not marked it means they shouldn't be driven down by a vehicle!  There are many more issues that will arise during the run but these will have to be dealt with as we go - certain things you just can't plan for. 

KR: If you succeed in hitting the target you have set yourselves for donations, what will the project be able to achieve?

MA: When we hit our target the project will achieve a number of things.  

  • In setting up the social enterprise business to make the re-usable sanitary pads it will bring employment and money into the rural community
  • By providing the girls with the re-usable sanitary pads (that should last for between 3-5 years) it enables them to remain at school and continue their education.
  • Enabling the girls to complete their education empowers them to make choices with their lives.
  • This in turn will have a positive impact on their communities
  • Be able to earn a better wage
  • Give them more confidence and a healthier life.

As you can see, by providing the girls with re-usable sanitary pads the impact it has on their lives and the lives of others is huge.

You can support this project by donating via the website or pledging an amount in return for a fantastic reward via the pozible campaign: www.freedomrunners.org  and  www.pozible.com/project/183111#description


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

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. 


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