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Words with Nicky Spinks

By Nicky Spinks
27, Jun, 2019

We grab a chat with fell runner Nicky Spinks ahead of the Saunders Lakeland Marathon

We managed to catch hold of Alpkiteer and Inov-8 athlete Nicky Spinks, fresh from her successful Double Paddy Buckley and days before she heads to the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon to find out what's the big idea with all these big runs. She also gives some tips and advice so best read on...

1 - Is the Barkley Marathons as hard as they say? Do you want to go back for another go?

The Barkley Marathons are as hard as it’s reputation as I found out! There are a lot of factors that make it so but it was the weather that finished me off in the end. I just completely underestimated it as had Steph Case and Billy Reed who I was running with. I should have taken a lot more clothes on the second loop. And so having made such a ridiculous mistake I would like to go back and try again but this is all dependant on getting an entry!

2 - Which was toughest, the double Paddy Buckley, double Bob Graham or double Ramsay and why?

The Double Bob Graham went well although I did have bad patches. The Ramsay was so hot for so long that it was very unpleasant for a long time. I also got a lot of blisters as my feet had swelled so much. I finished happy although disappointed at my time. I got over this and when I attempted the Paddy I knew I would continue if I was over 48 hours. Doing an anti-clockwise then a clockwise round it became obvious earlier on that I was behind time. I was also sick and found it hard to eat. I spend 8 hours being miserable before having a good talk with my supporters which boosted me and I decided to give it my best shot. After that I was a lot more cheerful and finished happily again.  So between the Paddy and the Ramsay the Ramsay was more unpleasant but the Paddy is harder because of the rocky terrain. 

3 - What is it about running you like so much and do you ever think you'll ever stop enjoying it?

I hope I’ll never stop enjoying it! After a big challenge or race I have a couple of weeks usually where I’m not bothered about running but then something always comes along that I want to do. A race sometimes or a local run on the moors in nice weather with my dogs. I have more things and places I want to run in so No I don’t think I’ll be giving up anytime soon.

Nicky Spinks and her husband Steve

4 - Tell us about your past Saunders experience, how did it go?

I used to do the Saunders many years ago starting in 2005. And always with my husband Steve Burgess. As I became fitter it became more difficult for us to run together andenjoy it so after a memorably hard one where I took Steve up the direct line to Fairfield he refused to do anymore with me. That was about 2010. We did the LAMM last year and really enjoyed it so entered the Saunders this year as we were looking for a low key enjoyable event to do! I’ve ordered a few beers with our milk for Saturday night!

5 - Have you done any specific training for the Saunders this year?

This is a tricky one as I did the Double Paddy in May and so have been recovering while Steve has been building up to the Saunders. Our good friends Amanda and Andrew Heading have entered too so we have that mini competition between ourselves that I know so many other teams will have! I did Steve a training plan which he has been following however silaging put paid to a couple of weeks training. We have tested the kit though and have spent a couple of nights out trying out our new Ordos 2 tent which were very impressed with! 

Nicky's kit for a mountain marathon all laid out

6 - Tell us about your kit, what are you wearing and packing? (if you have your exact pack weight that would be amazing?)

I’m away in Chamonix at the moment but have a pile of kit in my spare room all ready to be packed when I get home. The weather will make a big difference to what and how much we take as there is nothing worse than being cold and wet during the day but especially overnight. At the moment We both intend to wear Koulin shorts and tee shirts. We hope to get the pack weight down to about 7kg each. 

7 - Which do you find more important, weight or comfort? and when should you sacrifice one for the other?

As above we tend to do a bit of both weight and comfort. I always use the Numo sleeping mats as I’ve spent too many nights feeling the cold and damp coming up through the tent floor. These mats are great as they can be packed in any way to pack better in the pack. I also hate being hungry and so will pack three 800 calorie Expedition food meals to eat between both of us for dinner. We also like to have a treat of chocolate and a little flask (vanilla essence bottle) of rum and black or whisky! 
Where we save weight is on clothes. Ok will always wear day 1 clothes on day 2. Minging I know but after the initial unpleasantness it’s fine!

8 - Do you have any weight saving tips?

Wear the same clothes for Saturday and Sunday. Eat all your uneaten Day 1 food overnight so you don’t just carry it on Sunday too. Use a strong zip lock bag for water carrying. Take some silver foil folded up as a lid and or wind break. 

Nicky on the Barkley Marathon - ph. Summit Fever Media / Inov-8

ph. Summit Fever Media / Inov-8

9 - What food/fuel are you taking on the Saunders and how do you work out what you need?

We take a small canister off gas as it’s always been enough. We make sure we disconnect the gas from the stove overnight as once it leaked out overnight. And we keep the canister near us and put it in the sleeping bag as soon as we wake up to warm it up as it’s works better then. 
We take Expedition food meals for dinner - two spicy ones and then one pudding to share. then easy make porridge oats with sultanas for breakfast. 

10 - Will you be doing any warm down exercises at the overnight camp and/or after you finish? 

I very much doubt it! We have ordered a lager and a sprite and hopefully will cool down having a lager shandy before putting up the tent and getting dinner ready. If it’s cold we will get the tent up first as I get cold very quickly and so like to get inside ASAP. The Ordos 2 is huge inside and we can both move around in there together!

11 - Finally, what's the biggest piece of advice you could give to all the new and younger fell runners out there?

Take your time working out your routes and trust your own navigation. Don’t get distracted by what other people are doing - my husband tells me I’m not allowed to chat to people as that’s when we go wrong. And he’s right there! 
If on the Score class keep a check on how long it’s taking you to get the first few points. Have a cut off point where you say “Right now we have to head for home”. It’s also a good idea not to be tempted by points that are taking you further from the camp/finish. 
Work with your partner and help each other along. If you see they haven’t eaten for ages then offer them something. Before you get to camp make a plan of what you’re doing when you get there. Is it drinks first, or tent up, or food? If one person is jiggered then the other person can help them by looking after them. 

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