FOUNDER / EVENT DIRECTOR: SIMON JAMES
Simon is an International Mountain Leader and Founder of the trail running holiday company Run the Wild. He spent his childhood growing up on Gower in south Wales where he gained a passion for the outdoors.
In 2006 after having put on 20kgs of weight in a job in the City and following a late-night bet with a client he signed up to a 54-mile race across the West Highland Way in Scotland. The longest he’d run before that was 8 miles. He hasn’t stopped running since. A year later, he ran his first London marathon in 2hrs 57 minutes soon after managed to push this down towards 2.5 hours. Since then he has completed many ultras in the UK including the 87 miles Ridgeway Challenge, finishing 5th in 16.5hrs, as well as abroad including the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, 106 miles around Mt Blanc with 10,000m cumulative ascent, and the Marathon Des Sables, a 155-mile multi day event in 55 Deg C heat. Only 10 months earlier he spent climbing Mt Denali in Alaska in freezing temperatures, as low as -50 Deg C. This is where his other passion lies, as a mountaineer. He has climbed some of the highest mountains in the Americas, Africa, Europe and the Himalayas including Manaslu, the 8th highest mountain in the world. He is passionate about running outside of the race arena too, running Hadrian’s Wall in the UK, the GR20 in Corisca, Haute Route and Trail Du Mt Blanc in France, all in self sufficient style. In 2013 he took a year out to pursue both running and climbing whilst travelling. Having set off on many self-sufficient multi-day trail runs over the European Alps, where mountain passes are normally only reserved for trekkers and mountaineers, the idea of Run the Wild was born.
Despite major hip surgery a few years ago, he believes that life is all about your approach, and dedicates himself to encourage others to realise their full potential.
In summer, he is based in Saint Gervais, at the foot of Mont Blanc, and for the rest of the year in the Chiltern Hills in the UK. He is passionate about getting others into the outdoors and is an instructor and assessor for the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. He also guides International Schools on charity-based projects in Tanzania and leads groups up Kilimanjaro.
Simon is a qualified International Mountain Leader, Trail Running Guide and Leader in Running Fitness as well as a Member of the Explorers Club. Qualified Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist. LSSM Dip, IRSM, ITC Certificate in Outdoor First Aid, WMT Advanced Medicine
LOGISTICS DIRECTOR: KARIN VOLLER
Karin Voller is an experienced ultra runner, frequently gaining podium positions in popular ultra runs and multi-day ultras in the UK. She was first GB female over the line on the longest stage of the Marathon Des Sables 2011 & 11th female overall. Her passion for running followed on from representing England in La Crosse for several years. From there she completed a marathon PB of 3hrs 25mins and quickly moved onto longer distances, starting with a solo unsupported walk of Hadrians Wall. Since then she has run in many countries self supported including the GR20, UK coastal challenges as well as the Alps. She is a stickler for organisation, a very experienced trail runner and a valued member of our team with a certificate in Outdoor First Aid.
HEAD LEAD RUNNER (EU): EMILY GELDARD
Emily has been leading Alpine running trips for Run the Wild since 2014. She has many years of experience leading groups in Europe, Alaska, Norway, Africa, India and Nepal. Living in Chamonix, she speaks French and can often be found running around the local mountain trails. Emily has run all her life, (unlike everyone else, she actually enjoyed cross-country running at school!), and got into adventure racing before leaving the UK. She's now completed several Ultramarathons, including the 101km CCC. She also plans to do several races a bit further away from home; the next one on the list is in Iceland.
Emily also works as an English and Geography teacher, but manages to get outside whenever is possible. She feels that running is the most accessible and enjoyable way to discover the Alps. Each summer Emily plans a self-sufficient multi-day trail run with friends, enjoying the simplicity of running through beautiful and wild places with everything you need on your back. She also enjoys climbing, ski-touring and cycling.
Emily is a qualified International Mountain Leader.
LEAD RUNNER: HEATHER OHLY
Heather lives in Kendal and spends as much time as possible in the Lake District. She loves fell, trail and skyrunning in the mountains. In her work as an International Mountain Leader, she enjoys sharing her skills and enthusiasm with clients and seeing their confidence develop. Heather also works as a research fellow in global nutrition, with a focus on micronutrient deficiencies in low-income countries. Balancing these two contrasting roles keeps her motivated!
Heather is a qualified International Mountain Leader.
LEAD RUNNER: ALISTER BIGNELL
Al has devoted much of his life to the outdoors, and is particularly fond of adventures in the mountains. Having discovered the joys of running as more than just training for mountaineering several years ago, he has turned running and being healthy into a way of life since moving out to the Alps in 2006. An avid racer of both short and long distances on road and trail, Al is as motivated by the training required as the actual competition. He has completed ultra races such as the Trail VSB, Trail des Dents du Midi, Eiger Trail, PTL, UTMB, CCC and shorter races including Sierre Zinal, Glacier 3000 and Les Rochers de Naye. Despite finishing well in most of his races, Al is continuing to learn from every race experience and embrace both the joy and suffering that comes from exploring his limits. His most recent success was completing the TDS in 2017 in an impressive 15hrs 50mins earning him 12th place overall and 1st British athlete over the finishing line.
He has several years experience guiding day trips and multi day excursions as an International Mountain Leader, including the full suite of the North Face Ultratrail races (UTMB, CCC and TDS). Whatever your level or ambitions, Al’s enthusiasm and experience will ensure you are well supported to enjoy your trip and come away stronger and wiser.
LEAD RUNNER (UK): MARK HADAWAY
Mark has always had a keen interest in sport having played football from an early age. He went on to play semi-professional football and won national club championships in the process. Cruciate ligament injury in 2005 put an end to his involvement in football, so instead he started training for triathlon. Already a competent runner having completed several marathons amongst other distance events, Mark spent much time learning to swim and improving his road bike skills prior to commencing competing in the sport at a variety of distances in 2006. In 2008 Mark completed Ironman UK in 11.50 finishing 56th in his age group in the process. In subsequent years, amongst ‘going travelling’ and now with a young family, Mark has continued to participate in a variety of endurance sports from mountain biking to obstacle course racing.
Mark holds numerous sports coaching qualifications including diplomas in personal trainer, sports massage therapy and sports psychology. He is currently studying for an MBA.
LEAD RUNNER (UK): ANDY COLLINGS
Andy has been running for pleasure and to keep fit since school. Growing up in Cornwall has meant he has developed a passion for the outdoors. His first foray into long distance adventures began with the Idita Bike in Alaska. This was a self supported 130 cycle on the frozen river Yukon from Anchorage to Knit Lake. Over the last 5 years he has been running ultra distance races and has taken part in a number of events such as the Isle of Skye Ultra, Hardmoors 60 and the Classic Quarter. He has also taken part in a number of multi-day events such as the Atlantic Coastal Challenge and the Trans Britain Ultra. He enjoys the challenges of self navigation and regularly competes in the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM). He is a regular ultra runner but also enjoys shorter distances is a local RD for ParkRun.
Andy is a English Athletics Coach (CiRF) and holds an Outdoor First Aid Certificate.
PHYSIOTHERAPIST: JENNY SHARPE
A keen runner from an early age, Jenny competed in cross country at youth level and developed a passion for the trails and mountains in adulthood, running for the sheer joy of it! Long distances are her forte, be it city marathons, coastal trail races, a 3 month self supported cycle tour of France, or summer and winter tours in the Alps. Jenny is happiest when she is in the mountains or planning her next adventure.
This passion for sport and the outdoors has translated into her career as a physiotherapist. Qualifying in 2006, Jenny built a strong experience base in the NHS before moving to Ghana to work with a premiership football team and academy. On returning to London, she began working for a leading sports clinic where she has treated amateur to professional athletes in a range of sporting disciplines.
Jenny is currently studying for a Masters degree in Sports and Exercise Medicine and is undertaking research into knee pain with a leading team of clinicians. Her treatment focuses on a collaborative approach, strongly based in individualised goals, exercise rehabilitation and movement re-education, assisted by soft tissue therapy and acupuncture. Her passion is injury prevention and keeping people fit for the things they love.
TEAM MASCOTS: LOTTIE AND BAILEY
Lottie and Bailey are sometimes seen on Run the Wild adventures. Lottie (brown and white) is an excellent runner frequently reaching speeds over 30mph (48kph) and is an adept climber. Bailey (black) is more of the endurance hound and has already taken to canicross. Both particularly love trails and trail runners. Lottie likes chasing butterflies and Bailey has an unquenchable passion for tennis balls.