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Talk and Run with Stevie Kremer

Hot on the heels of meeting the legend that is Roger Bannister at the Henley Literary Festival a short time ago came the chance to meet one of the finest trail runners in the World, Stevie Kremer

She's racing the Mourne Skyline Mountain Trail Race this Saturday in the Republic and Ian Corless of TalkUltra fame (get in on the excellent podcasts if you've not already discovered them!) with Simon from Like the Wind magazine had the idea to break her trip in London and offer 40 of us the opportunity to meet her and talk trail running over beer and chips after fitting in a mass headtorch run round Hampstead Heath.

Far too good an opportunity to miss!  As Shanks' is my preferred method of transportation I also saw the potential for getting a long run in beforehand as heading in to the North London pub venue was an almost direct 25-mile journey via the Grand Union Canal for just over half the way then, less interestingly, London's streets for the rest.

The run went pretty well. I left at 1:30pm ish with an eye on the forecast which promised a soaking if I left it any later even though I'd arrive early.  But then it's a pub, so wheres the harm in that?  I'm running the Country to Capital again in January so it was a partial practice for that beyond Slough Junction round to Bulls Bridge.  The C2C turns left and round to Paddington there but  I carried on to Ealing.  Of course I didn't entirely miss that soaking and turned up dripping.

There are some very odd people who populate canals in the daytime.  One or two desultorily carried what might have been fishing rods in a vague attempt to justify their presence but the rest just stood around staring into space.  No way would I run this at night!  But otherwise it was an uneventful run and 25 miles, 2 gels, a flapjack and a bottle of Lucozade Sport later I pitched up at the Dartmouth Arms, first to arrive.

Exactly one pint later Stevie and Ian arrived plus Marshall, Stevie's partner.  Intros made and it's obviously going to be a good night.  Stevie is very bubbly and extremely easy to talk to.  I asked Marshall something toe-curlingly dumb about whether he runs too etc. and ever since I've been resisting looking him up, sure I'll find out he's UN Ambassador for running, holder of the Western States Purple Heart or something else I should obviously have known all along.  He takes it with good grace anyway!

The rest of the cast show up and everyone intros themselves to everyone else like it's a speed-dating evening before we all head out into the rain and the dark for what I'm sure ended up being about 6 mile round the Heath.  I've never run round it before and couldn't tell you where we went as I'd lost my bearings within 100yds of getting through the gates, but it was nice and undulating and the views out over lit London from the hill were great and everyone's talking races, unsurprisingly as we all share a pretty specialised interest!

I thought the views must be better in daylight but Stevie tells me she likes the dark! I think more for the roaring fire than the inky blackness maybe?   My battered pins held up pretty well as they racked up 31 miles for the day.  The only downside was that I was totally soaked without so much as a spare sock.

Chat over dinner over, Ian interviews Stevie a la TalkUltra style which was fascinating and gave a lot of insight.  Stevie is extremely humble and self deprecating, claiming her wins are generally the result of others' mishaps rather than her ability but you don't become World Champion twice by virtue of someone else's temporary bad patch.

She is refreshingly down to earth about running - it's all about the joy of it, the travelling and the meeting of new people for her.  That said, she is ferociously competitive! 

She eschews all the usual dogma you get in running.  For a start she says she doesn't have a training plan.  Speedwork is key for her and she fits in quality elements wherever possible but it's fitted in as opportunity allows.  She still works full time as a junior school teacher so has to fit training in around that.  Interestingly she says the job keeps her grounded - the kids don't judge a tough training session or disappointing race!  I was also cheered to hear she doesn't follow any special diet beyond 'trying to eat generally healthily' and by the sounds of it, can't cook an egg which we have in common!

Stevie doesn't even bother with getting massages but does advocate the foam roller to nip any niggles in the bud. 

On running downhill (her particular talent is uphill running) Stevie says to get better at it you should run fast repeats, try and keep leaning forward and just go for it basically.  I know this makes sense, and as Ian said, it's when you pick your way down gingerly, your feet spending a lot longer on the ground at a time, that you're much more likely to slip or fall.  But it's hard to mentally release your brakes!

We wrapped up the evening at gone 10:30 after a charity auction for a signed Like The Wind magazine and a shirt, won by Marina, showing some of the tenacity that will see her through a return run at the KAEM (a mere 250km across the Kalahari) in a couple of weeks!

Such a great night!  Thanks to Simon, Ian and Stevie for arranging this, particularly to Stevie for being such great company and I (we all I'm sure) wish her every success on Saturday.

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