20–21 Jan 2024 41 days to go! #RunShow Tickets

Gavin King

2014 was the year everything changed for me as I began running.
Running wasn’t something I’d previously been drawn to but I found myself at a point in my life where I needed to find an escape. My dad, being seriously ill, reminded me of the value of life. Not only did I need to find an escape for my mental health, I wanted to feel like I was making the most of my life whilst I was still young and able.
This wasn’t going to be easy, I was working a full time job and trying to juggle being a freelance photographer. I contacted several climbing and kayaking clubs but had no response, it was then I saw a post on Instagram for an obstacle race and after a quick Google I roped in my good friend Rob to run 16 muddy, wintery kilometres leaving us with only eight weeks to train.

My first training run was all over the place, I started fast, died quickly, felt sick, my body felt sore and everything seemed really miserable! I didn’t give up though, I kept going out and started to listen to my body. The runs slowly got better as the weeks went by and when I crossed the finish line of my first obstacle race, I knew I was hooked!
I began running several OCRs a month and unbelievably I qualified for the OCR world championships on multiple occasions.
After several years of obstacle races I slowly started moving into longer distance events. I entered Rat Races “Barrel of Laps” a 2 mile lapped race while carrying a 9 Gallon/40 litre beer barrel (that’s enough to hold 86 pints of your favourite beer).. Unbelievably I came first covering 34 miles. Not only did I come home with a trophy (a small keg of beer that I refused to drink), but it had given me my first taste of ultra running, the seed had been planted and it quickly grew.
It was at Barrel of Laps where I met The Happy Runner (Vic Izzy Owens) and we instantly formed a friendship. I asked her if she fancied a running adventure and two years later in 2019, after much planning, we found ourselves at the official start plaque of the beautiful but brutal coastal path of Anglesey. 135 very tough miles of hills, varying weather and breath-taking views. We achieved the FKT for a self-supported team running the route. At that point I’d never ran more than 42 Miles , this was a massive achievement for me, not only physically but also mentally, giving me the confidence to take on some more challenges. I spent the next few years building up the mileage in my legs, exploring places I’ve never been to before, running along skylines, forging running friendships and helping others achieve their running goals.

In January 2021 I took on Mark Cockbain’s Frozen Accumulator, running the distance of the days of the month, running 1 mile on the 1st all the way up to 31 miles on the 31st. Totalling 500 miles/800km for the month.

In April 2021 I challenged myself with two local FKTs. I completed them both unsupported:
The Gipping Valley, following the route of the old river towpath into Ipswich – 26.6km
The Sandlings, a mixed trail of Heathlands, forest and river paths – 93km

June 2021 on home turf I ran ROC24 and achieved my sub 24hr 100 miler, placing fourth overall. This was the longest I’d ran without any real rest stops.

Despite the fact I’m very self doubting of my running abilities, it has given me so much confidence in myself. I’m always on the look out for new challenges, I’m eager to see what I’m capable of and with the running community and the friendships I’ve made along the way, I know I can find the confidence to keep testing my body and seeing what I’m capable of.

Running has helped me find myself and an inner strength I never knew I had. I feel comfortable as an ultra runner, tying up my laces and heading out for a long run is what I love to do. You’ll regularly see me outside in all weathers running my local trails.