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***Guide Spotlight - Simon James***

Guide, Founder, Admin, Logistics, Photographer and General Dogsbody, this week, we introduce to you Simon James!

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! With a marathon PB of 2hrs 37mins, and completions of the 87 miles Ridgeway Challenge, finishing 5th in 16.5hrs, as well as 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, Simon is as passionate about running and the outdoors as anyone can be. SImon lives in Tring with his wife and two trails dogs, Bailey and Lottie.

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.

~ Can you describe the inception of RtW?

In 2013 I 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. I wanted to combine my passion for the mountaineering experience (including Mont Blanc, Manaslu, Denali), where you collectively share the experience, with running on the trails. I have completed some major routes (Hadrians Wall, GR20 in Corsica, Haute Route, and Trail du Mont Blanc) in a self sufficient style, and as fantastic as these were, I felt they lacked the team spirit I enjoy with mountaineering.

~Favourite distance to run?

Since hip surgery a few years ago, I now have to restrict my distances quite significantly. In the Alps, where we spend much of our summer, there are a number of races that just include ascent, with the finish line at the summit. Running uphill puts far less pressure on my hip joint, so as brutal as these events are, it allows me to still run as hard as I can, without risking damage.

~Where do you enjoy trail running the most?

I grew up on the Gower Peninsula in Wales, which has stunning, vast beaches, so I will always have a soft spot for running there. Since moving to Hertfordshire, my wife has shown me such amazing trails in such close proximity to London, I truly think you can really find beauty anywhere. I love the mountains, and since a first visit to the Alps in 2007, I've been completely hooked. Balcony passes, narrow ridgelines, massive vistas over glaciers, its hard not to fall in love with those trails.

~ Best thing about being a guide for RtW?

Sharing the outdoors and my passion for trail running, with others.

~ Favourite trail snack?

Chocolate Crepes! They fit perfectly into the front pouch on my running pack. Delicious and easy to eat while running. I love wild blueberries when we find those on the trails out in the Alps

~ What is your biggest motivator for hitting the trails?

A sense of freedom and adventure, and I love the simplicity of running.

~ Funniest memory from the trails?

Wiping out in mud in front of a shocked family as I came around the corner on a trail in Suffolk! The look on their faces!