Twelve months on from smashing records in the Drakensberg Grand Traverse, ultramarathon star Ryan Sandes is preparing to enjoy himself at the upcoming Red Bull Wings For Life World Run in Franschhoek.
THE RED BULLETIN: Any tips for this year’s Wings For Life World Run?
RYAN SANDES: Set yourself a training plan with small goals, then extend yourself maybe once a month to see how you’re doing. Have an idea of your weekly mileage, but also listen to your body so you don’t push yourself too hard. You could run on or close to the route in advance so you have an idea of what to expect. Then reward yourself afterwards with some wine-tasting.
How has your form been?
I picked up glandular fever late last year, which meant no running in December and very little in January. I was quite run-down after a long year, and initially I thought it was just a virus, but I’ve had glandular fever before and it tends to return when your immune system is low. It’s taught me to be more careful and not overtrain or push myself too hard, which doesn’t come naturally.
What were your best moments last year?
There were three: winning the Transgrancanaria in early March, breaking the record in the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryno Griesel later that month, and then coming second in the Ultra-Trail World Tour. Ryno and I had wanted to do the Drakensberg Traverse for a long time, and running 207km in under 42 hours was a great achievement.
What are your goals for this season?
I’ll be focusing mainly on two 100-milers: the Western States Endurance Run in the US in June, and the Grand Raid in Réunion in October. They’re totally different: Western States is relatively fast – you start in the cold, sometimes snow, and end in heat – while Réunion is very technically demanding because of its difficult mountainous terrain and major ascents and descents.
What’s the state of endurance trail-running right now?
People are starting ultras so much earlier nowadays – like, in their late teens – and then burning out in just two to three years. Which means the age when you are really competitive is dropping and there’s an even greater turnover. There’s almost too much racing.
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