Our last ultra event of 2023 is almost upon us! 55 miles of harsh winter trails and 12139 ft of lung-bursting ascent await those eager to cram in a wild adventure in the Cheviot hills before Christmas.
Keep scrolling to find out which of our brave #TeamMontane athletes are joining the start line of the Cheviot Goat Ultra this year, what kit they’ll be carrying with them, and their reasons for taking on the race. But first, let us reintroduce you to a familiar face taking part, as well as our newest member of #TeamMontane James Nobles…
James: I’m James, and currently live in the not so mountainous, south-west of England. I’ve been running longer-distance mountain stuff for the last 3-4 years, kick-starting with the Bob Graham Round in 2020. Since then, I have been hooked - focusing initially on the British rounds, then the Dragons Back, the Northern Traverse, and now the 2024 Winter Spine. I love the grittiness of these events and the opportunity to test yourself against some of the most challenging terrain.
Simon: Shwmae! I'm from the South Wales Valleys, I've been running in mud and mountains for about 10 years. I've raced quite a few ultra races around the UK, such as Spine Race, Dragons Back, and Cheviot Goat ;) I've been injured for most of the year, but now back in form and ready to go for it!
What are you expecting from the Cheviot Goat?
James: I’ve not run in the Cheviots before, and given that the Spine ventures up and over those hills, I thought the Goat would be an awesome way to get a little familiar with them! So for me, this race is about learning the terrain first and foremost and testing out some more kit in prep for the Spine. However, I know that once I am on that start line, and the adrenaline kicks in, I’ll end up giving it the beans for 55 miles too.
Simon: I'm expecting to get covered in mud from head to toe, to get soaking wet, to be freezing cold but mainly to have a jolly old time in the beautiful Cheviot Hills. I'm no stranger to this area or this race. It's a super duper-hard day out, but a great day out. Looking forward to cake and cider at the finish in the Ingram cafe.
What’s your favourite ultra to date and why?
James: 100%, the Bob Graham Round. This is where it all started for me, both in terms of ultra running in the mountains and also in meeting others who love the sport. I don’t think there are many other sports where you can put a shout-out on social media, and then get a handful of people who are happy to give up a day / night of their weekend, to come and support a round. The route - all bar the road section at the end - is stunning.
Simon: The Montane Cheviot Goat of course. This is my 3rd go at this race, so I must like it. It keeps pulling me back and I'm excited to get back up there. It's such a beautiful place. The environment is harsh, the terrain is challenging, and it's everything an ultra race should be. I love the atmosphere there, everyone is just well up for getting stuck into some peat bogs and some horrible weather! It's great!
Tell us about your current go-to item of Montane gear?
James: It’s the Phase Nano Jacket for me at the moment. When I first picked it up, I thought “No way is this going to be enough for something like the Spine”. It mustn’t have liked my initial and ill-thought-out judgment, because every time I wear it, it exceeds all of my expectations. It’s exceptionally breathable, really lightweight, and the most waterproof jacket I’ve run in. A brilliant bit of kit and will definitely be wearing this on the Goat and the Spine.
Simon: Right now as we are getting into the wet season it's the Phase Nano Jacket. Cracking protection from the elements and it's such a lightweight waterproof jacket, it's so slick and fast! Paired with the Minimum Nano Pullover pants, a great combo to go out in torrential rain.
What’s the best bit of advice you would impart to anyone looking to take their running to the next level?
James: Keep turning up. I try hard to get some consistency going in my training, and then gradually build things up over a long period. There are plenty of days where a session might not feel as good as you hope, but the important thing is that you’ve done it. This “brick by brick” or “step by step” approach has really helped in terms of my fitness and resilience.
Simon: Anyone who is looking to improve their running. It’s all in their training. It’s time to start looking at speed sessions and playing around with pace. Read books, watch YouTube or get a running coach. There's a lot of resources out there.
Are you plotting any plans for 2024?
James: It will kick off with a bang via the winter Spine and then we will see what the recovery goes like after that. There are loads of races and challenges that I’d love to have a go at - Tor des Géants has massive appeal, as does the Wainwrights.
Simon: Will be burning off the Christmas pudding on the Spine Race to start the year off. I will then be going back to my residency at the Dragon's Back Race in September. I also plan to be competing in a few races in Europe!
Keep up with the action
The Montane Cheviot Goat takes place on 02 December. To find out more information head over to our dedicated event hub, or read our official Cheviot Goat origins story to hear from the race directors.