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Interview with Jenn Gaskell

by editor
Monday 3rd October 2016
Tags  Montane   |   Jenn Gaskell
Montane athlete Jenn Gaskell is certainly a fan of adventurous races. Despite still being only 28 years old she’s already completed the Montane Spine Race, Dragon’s Back, UTMB and Montane Tor des Geants (twice). This on top of her mountaineering, adventure racing and her day job as a mathematical physicist. We caught up with her on her return from this year’s Montane Tor des Geants.

1. You’ve just come back from Montane Tor des Geants. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The Montane Tor des Geants is an absolutely awesome race - 330 km with 24000m of ascent - and 24000m of descent! It's so much fun and a completely immersive race. You run through the most amazing scenery, up some really brutal climbs, all fuelled by top Italian food - and the volunteers are so enthusiastic no matter what time of day you see them! I actually felt quite sad when I saw a sign saying we'd done 270km, as I realised it would be another 51 weeks until I could do it again!

Jenn TDG

2. You seem to like races which are an epic personal challenge (Dragon’s Back, TdG, UTMB). Are you a competitive person or is it more you vs the mountain?
The beauty of the really long races is that you see so much all in one go - like the entire length of Wales or a 25 day hiking route! It really is like living a whole year of your life in a week, often with the highest and lowest moments of your year within 20 minutes of each other! It's nice if you finish in a competitive position, but it's more about enjoying such a massive experience and sharing it with the runners you meet along the way.
3. Which of the events you’ve done have been the most challenging for you and why?
The Montane Spine race was very tough, I attempted this when I was very young and not so good at looking after myself! It was very cold and I didn't eat enough, after 160 miles or so, I was a total mess curled up in the snow! The Montane Tor des Geants is brutal too, it was actually harder the second time as I wanted to go faster now I knew I could finish it!

Jenn Gaskell 1

4. What are the key kit essentials that you swear by?
Poles are really useful for the alpine races. I also love my Montane vest pack as it has just the right pockets (so now I eat enough!) and the Montane Minimus jacket comes everywhere with me.
5. What does the future hold in terms of ultra running?
I'm quite open to new challenges, I often sign up to races last minute! But I will certainly be heading to the Montane Lakeland 100 as it has such a great atmosphere...and I'd love to do another lap of the Tor!!
6. You do mountaineering, adventure racing, ironman, ultra running - if you could do any event in the world or plan any sort of adventure, what would it be?
I think it would be brilliant to have a non-stop footrace across all of the Alps, including over the 4000m peaks! It would be hard to get the right weather window, but I guess bad weather sections could be replaced with mountain biking/rollerblading/swimming! I really like races that feel like a humongous experience.

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