How to win the UTS 100 miler - Mark Darbyshire

An Ultra Trail running masterclass saw Mark Darbyshire win the UTS 100 mile event in May 2024…

Mark Darbyshire
By Mark Darbyshire

15/05/24

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The Ultra Trail Snowdonia is a challenging and scenic trail running event held in Snowdonia National Park, Wales. It offers various distances ranging from 25k to 100 miles, with breathtaking views of rugged mountains, lush valleys, and pristine lakes.

 

A stunning vista across Snowdonia

 

Participants navigate through diverse terrain, including steep climbs, technical descents, and exposed ridges, testing both physical endurance and mental resilience. The race celebrates the natural beauty and ruggedness of Snowdonia, attracting experienced ultrarunners seeking a demanding yet rewarding adventure amidst stunning landscapes.

 

We caught up with VOOM athlete Mark Darbyshire, the winner of this years 100 miler, which involves 100 miles of epic trails across the Snowdonia mountain range and elevation which equates to nearly 1000m more than the height of Mt Everest! 

 

 

  

Mark Darbyshire's ultra experience

 

I've been running ultras for about 10 years. Since my Dad moved to the Brecon beacons. This is my fourth year in a row at UTS. I won the 100k in 2021 then attempted the 100 miler in 2022 when it was unfortunately cancelled for bad weather. I then DNF's the 100 miler last year due to blown quads!

 

 

When to enter Ultra Trail Snowdonia?

 

Pretty much the day after I DNF'd the UTS 100 mile last year I knew I had to come back and put it right!

 

 

What's the draw of the UTS event?

 

 

For me, it's a big UK event and I love the mountains of Snowdonia. Mike Jones got it spot on when he pieced together the route and described it as beautiful beyond belief, savage beyond reason. I also like the level of competition it's started to attract with many top runners.

 

 

How to train for UTS 100 Mile? Hours, miles, ascent...

 

I DNF'd the Northern Traverse about five weeks ago but felt in good shape and recovered really quickly. I run to work and back which is about 10 miles a day but don't log miles on my watch or use Strava. Specifically for UTS I did some extra strength work to harden up the quads after what happened last year. I also put in a fair few long slow mountain days either in the Brecon Beacons or Snowdonia.

 

 

What's the biggest challenge of UTS?

 

Biggest challenge this year was probably the night section from Cnicht to Gwastadannas farm it's rough boggy and very difficult to find any rhythm. Plus although not that long seems to drag on for ages. Although it was much better this year than last year.

 

What was your favourite part of UTS?

 

My favourite part this year was probably the Moel Hebod Nantille ridge section - it's where the wheels fell off last year so was pretty satisfying to feel strong during this section. Plus, it's stunningly beautiful with both mountain and sea views!

 

 

 

 

Best moment of the event for you?

 

Best moment of the event was probably flying down the last decent heading towards Llanberis knowing that the hard work had paid off. I also really enjoyed running with Andy Berry for the first 60k. Top fella!

 

How to fuel for UTS? Pre race and during a 100 mile ultra

 

Breakfast was what I always have - 6 sausages, 6 rashers of bacon, black pudding, 8 fried eggs with beans and toast!

 

No, just kidding! I had porridge and yoghurt for breakfast and some sandwiches for lunch. During the race I never really have a specific plan for carbs per hour but just go with feel. I think on average I probably had one VOOM Pocket Rocket per hour.

 

I also had plenty of the VOOM electrolyte drink at crew stops, I knew this would be important due to the heat. At the aid stations and crew stops I tried to eat real food mainly pizza, cheese and pickle sandwiches and yoghurt with honey which gives me a good balance of carbs, some protein and some fats.

 

 

Top 3 most important pieces of kit for you?

 

1) My decathlon trail running shorts. Very comfortable with loads of built in pocket for storing nutrition and phone.

 

2) Coros apex 2 pro watch. It's got a proper map and I could get lost in a phone box!

 

3) Fenix Headtorch. This helped massively during the night to be able to see clearly even on rough terrain.

 

 

Top 3 Tips to Take On UTS 100M?

 

1) Get out on the course because it's technical and steep but also pretty unique. 

 

2) Start slowly and build into the race. It's often easier said than done but pays off big time for the second half and its a long old race!

 

3) Don't worry to much about feeling a bit rough at night it's more than likely things will improve when the sun comes up.

  

What’s next?

 

Next up for me I'll be running one of the Snowdon Skyrace events and then back to the Lakeland 100 miler!

 

 

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