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Tom Evans, the ultra-running soldier

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Monday 11th September 2017
Tags  Tom Evans   |   UTMB   |   CCC   |   Marathon des Sables
Tom Evans, British Army Officer who finished an incredible 4th in his debut at last weekend’s CCC race at the UTMB, writes about the skills his military career has given him, which benefit his running. 

By Tom Evans
For the last 6 months, I have been juggling my military career with ultra-running. Ever since finishing 3rd in the Marathon des Sables, the doors to the running world have been opened. I have been very fortunate to serve 6 years with the Welsh Guards. I have learnt so many lessons from my time in the British Army that I use day to day in training but more importantly, in my races. I have summarised 10 key points that my military career has taught me.

Tom collage 1
Tom in action in the MdS and the Eiger Ultra Trail 

1. Organisation. When preparing for a race I like to get all of my kit out, ensuring that I have everything. Having the right equipment for the job is so important. You don’t want to be carrying too much, but then again, you don’t want to not have something you may end up needing!
2. Administration. Coming in from a hard training session all you want to do it get warm and relax. There are lots of thing that need to be done before that. Especially in a race like Marathon des Sables. On finishing each stage, I would go into an ‘admin period’ where I would get everything sorted so I was good to go the next day.
3. Mental Strength. There have been times in my military career where making the right decision may not be the easiest thing. However, that’s what defines us as the person that we want to be. I have used this resilience and mental strength in my running. It’s so important to be positive when things may seem like they are going wrong.
4. Looking after yourself. Doing a lot of training is going to take its toll on anyone. I have had a couple of small injuries and strains over the years. Spending time to learn how to warm up and cool down correctly has really helped me to avoid small injuries turning into bigger ones.
5. Looking after people around you. Yes, running is an individual sport, however the community is a very special place and I have met some amazing people on my journey so far. Safety is the most important thing out on a race and if you ever see anyone struggling, it’s always best to help.

Tom finishing 4th in this year's CCC (image ©Kirsten Kortebein)

6. Detailed planning. Training, race calendars, travel, all may seem like nice problems to have but I have had to work hard, with a great team around me, to make sure that everything is leading to improvement. In the Army, planning is a huge part of what an officer does. I have been given the opportunity to test myself mentally too!
7. Control the controllables. There are lots of things in life that can be controlled, having said that, there are so many things that we can’t do anything about. The weather, the terrain, what other people are doing. Sometimes you have just got to knuckle down and get the job done.
8. Risk taking. Risk is something that the British Army has become more confident with. Being an Officer with the Welsh Guards, there are certain times when risk must be taken in order to achieve the end goal. It is the same with ultra-running, risk must be taken at points!
9. Determination. One of the key personality traits for any soldier. Determination is something that must always be present when racing. There are always going to be times when it’s going to hurt but you know you can push on through to achieve your goals.
10. Flexibility. Things in the modern world are constantly changing and it takes a flexible mind to adapt to a situation. This is very true in the British Army but also in ultra-running. Things may not always go to plan but it’s how you modify what you are doing to still accomplish your aim.
The Welsh Guards has given me a huge step up in my ultra-running career so far. The British Army as a whole are at the forefront of sport in the UK and is a great place for any aspiring sports person. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Tom collage


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