Last updated: 19-Feb-19
By Kathryn Bullock
Many congratulations to Tom who was the overall winner of the 2019 Instagrammer Award with the most votes and we encourage you to visit his Instagram page.
Tom sent us a great picture of himself proudly holding up his prize – a Suunto Baro 9 watch. Tom is a keen ultra runner and our Community Manager Luke asked Tom a few questions about how he got into ultra running, his worst moments and his future running plans.
We wish Tom all the very best with his running.
Q. Who is Tom Wake?
A. By day I’m Lead Developer at StrategiQ, a Marketing Agency in Suffolk, and runner by morning, night and literally any other time where I can fit some miles in! Originally from Derbyshire, I now live by the coast in Suffolk with my, very supportive and understanding (when it comes to Ultra Running!), wife Pip.
Q. How and when did you first get into ultra running?
A. I’ve always been into sports and for many summers whilst at University I worked as a Windsurf Instructor. My inactive university years, with late nights DJing, took their toll on my fitness and I decided that I wanted to do something about it.
I started out as a road runner and gradually built up my race distances. Taking on the marathon was my first real test of endurance and whilst training for the likes of Paris, London and Berlin I was introduced to the world of trail running.
A few friends took me on runs around the local trails and soon I was hooked. Instead of focussing on another road marathon I signed up to one of the Sussex Coastal Trail Series events and dipped my toe in with 34 miles on the Seven Sisters. It was a baptism of fire – I was done in by the end, however I really enjoyed running the longer distance, getting off-road and the rest is history!
Q. Favourite race?
A. That’s a tough one! I’ve returned to Race to the King, a double marathon, a couple of times which I love for the trails, rolling hills of the South Downs Way and the finish line at Winchester Cathedral is pretty spectacular.
I think for the challenge, terrain and all round enjoyment it’s got to be the Lakeland 100.
Q. Worst experience during a race?
A. Ultra and trail racing isn’t easy, there are so many variables that can impact upon a race. Here’s a couple. In my first trail marathon, a 27 mile self-navigational race, I took a wrong turn at the top of a hill – running downhill for around a mile instead of heading straight across at the top. After a few minutes of hanging around at the bottom of the hill wondering why the instructions didn’t make any sense, I realised that I then had to run all of the way back up, not what my legs needed!
More recently, in last year’s Lakeland 100, I’d been running for 80-90 miles through all conditions; blistering heat, rain, thunder lightning and hail. I reached the Ambleside checkpoint and was absolutely fine to begin with until I started taking on more fluids and nutrition and instantly felt pretty awful. I went dizzy, was struggling to see properly and had to rest on a wall behind me. I was determined to finish the race and kept telling myself to try and not to pass out!
Luckily, thanks to the brilliant volunteers I managed to have some soup and then set off into howling winds and hail to finish the race, not feeling my best but I got it done!
Q. When did you start blogging?
A. Working as a web developer I’ve always had some sort of presence on the internet – creating my own websites for fun and somewhere to post my updates and photos. My blog sort of evolved over time on various iterations of my website and it most recently landed on https://tom.run.
I used to be a big Twitter user for sharing stories and images, however that changed in the last couple of years as I started to make more use of Instagram. I love following other runners, brands and races on there – there are so many inspirational photos, stories and I’ve also made some great friendships through the platform.
Q. Salomon ambassadorship is very cool, how did that come about?
A. Salomon is a brand that I’ve always connected with when ultra running. I’ve used their kit for years from shoes to packs and I’m always motivated by their social feed content, their ethos of “Time to Play” is a perfect fit with my own running.
When the opportunity arose to speak to them about becoming an ambassador for the brand, I jumped at the chance. I’m looking forward to lots of adventures with them this year.
Q. Mountain, Trail, Desert, Snow, Jungle or Road?
A. Mountains – although there aren’t many near where I live in Suffolk, possibly one the flattest counties in the UK, so I make the most of them whenever I get the chance!
Q. Dream ultra?
A. It may be a bit of a cliche but I really want to head to Chamonix and take on the UTMB, I never seem to get lucky in the ballot for that series of races.
Failing that it’s got to be the Western States 100.
Q. Any exciting running lined up for 2019?
A. I’m returning to Lakeland 100 again with the aim to improve on my time from last year, I finished in 14th with 26:30 on the clock, I’d love to try and go sub 24 hours on that course.
I’ll be heading further South for the Autumn 100 in October, which I’m looking forward to taking on for the first time.
I’m also keeping an eye out for other ultra challenges at the moment and currently attempting to plan the logistics for an attempt at the Bob Graham Round – one of my bucket list challenges, so watch this space!
Also many congratulations to our overall finalists:
Jon Baguley, Lucy Bartholomew, James Dunn, Hannah Leith and Therese Sjursen.
And to our regional winners as follows:
Asia, Pacific – Winner Lucy Bartholomew, Finalist Hollie Woodhouse,
Europe – Winner Therese Sjursen, Finalists Kilian Jornet and Emelie Forsberg
North America – Winner Sally McRae
UK – Winner Hannah Leith.
A big thank you once again to everyone who took part in the 2019 Instagrammer Awards. We enjoyed visiting your Instagram pages and we wish you a very successful ultra running year.