In September this year, Jeremy Goddard, 51, an oil-field engineer, will be entering the Grand to Grand Ultra, a 270 kilometre, seven-day staged race on a course that stretches from the rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Grand Staircase, a range of mountains in Utah. He has been a marathon and ultra runner for several years and has recently been running more multi-day ultras.
First a bit of form
I have been running since 2010, when I entered the London marathon. I was under-trained and unprepared and it was horrible, and afterwards I decided I should have done better. So I continued training and ran the Dublin marathon later that year and took more than an hour off my time. After that I joined my local club and kept running, and then in 2012 I discovered that ultra marathons existed. I ran a few in the UK, both single and multiday, before competing in the Comrades Ultramarathon in South Africa. That was an amazing experience and I worked it in as part of a family holiday.
In 2017 I ran the Atacama crossing – a multi-day self supported ultra marathon - and really enjoyed it. The Atacama Desert was a place I really wanted to see and what better way than to run through it! Running is very important to me for many reasons and I regularly volunteer at my local Parkrun and with the juniors’ section of the club.
How did you come across the G2G? Why are you doing it now?
During the Atacama Crossing, one of the many friends I made was a Polish chap whose friends had just done the 2017 Grand to Grand and said it was really good. It just stuck in my head, and when I got home I looked at the race profile and pictures and I was hooked!
This year, after nearly 30 years in the oil industry, I have taken voluntary redundancy, so completing the Grand to Grand will give me a very positive memory. I hope to do well in the race. I like multi-day races because of the extra challenge of managing your recovery and nutrition between each stage.
So far this year I have done a 50-mile race and two marathons, and as part of my build up I will enter another four or five marathons plus one other ultra (‘The Plague’, 60 miles along the Cornish coast ). Two of the marathons are on consecutive days and I will run both with my backpack at the starting weight for Grand to Grand (10kg). Both marathons I have done so far have been on really hot days, which I’m taking as a good omen for Grand to Grand! When training with the backpack I fill it with books to get the right weight – you get some strange looks when people ask what you’re carrying!
The majority of my planning for the Grand to Grand really took place last year, for the Atacama crossing – the races have a similar format and things went well there so I shall just repeat them. Before that though, I spent a lot of time researching nutrition and kit. On nutrition it was in order to get the right calories and also the correct ratio of carbs, protein and fat. I tested all the food before I went and it worked really well. I also checked my kit and pack – I did a 24hr race as a two day run, stopping and camping overnight so I could test all my gear and different foods.
I am a little obsessive about planning, but I believe that it really pays off. That said, I know I need to change my breakfast choice – after a few days in the Atacama, trying to eat the porridge was like forcing down cement – if I hadn’t needed the fuel I couldn’t have eaten it!
Most daunting aspect?
I don’t really suffer from race nerves and I’m actually really excited by getting out there. I know it’s going to be tough but I relish the challenge.
And what are you most looking forward to?
The beer at the end is a definite! I usually stop any alcohol at least twelve weeks before.
I am really looking forward to the scenery and meeting all the other runners, but ultimately it’s the solitude and facing the challenge – you really get to understand what you are capable of when you are out there on your own.