There was something of an American invasion at the National Running Show in Birmingham, U.K. this weekend as 2017 Barkley winner and 2020 Spine Race winner John Kelly, 24-hour world record-holder Camille Herron, and even Barkley Marathons race director Laz Lake all showed up to wave the proverbial flag and talk to running enthusiasts.
“It went well and there was a big crowd,” says Kelly, who spoke at the ultrarunning stage, whic was hosted by David Hellard’s Bad Boy Running Podcast. “It was cool to see so many people excited about ultrarunning.”
Kelly’s recent win at the Montane Spine Race in 87:53 drew accolades, and while he wasn’t quite as fast as Jasmin Paris last year (who broke both men’s and women’s course records with her 83:12 finish while also expressing breastmilk at aid stations), it certainly earned him the admiration and respect of a few more British fell runners.
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For the list of dreams I never knew I had until they came true: being made into a Lego figure. Now maybe my kids will think what I do is cool. 😆 This was created for The National Running Show this weekend in Birmingham (UK, not Alabama). I'll be on the ultra stage at 14:50 with @badboyrunningpodcast, and probably hanging around for a while afterwards. . . . #nrs #nationalrunningshow #birmingham #notthatbirmingham #weekendfun #foryourmountain #howihammer #selfpropelled #yoursecondskin
Kelly, who is living and working in the U.K. with his family at the moment, told us he has no specific plans for 2020 other than a repeat attempt at the Grand Round sometime this summer–which consists of the Paddy Buckley Round, the Bob Graham Round and the Ramsay Round, each in under 24 hours, and cycling from the finish of one to the start of the next. (The goal is to complete the whole thing in under 100 hours. This represents 113 summits, about 298K of running, almost 26,000m of elevation gain, and 644K of cycling. Last year Kelly stopped after completing two of the three rounds, realizing it wasn’t safe for him to be riding his bike in a state of extreme sleep deprivation.)
Laz, who is often assumed to be something of a sadist by people familiar with the Barkley Marathons, responded with uncharacteristic vulnerability when asked about about his experience speaking at this show:
i am quite nervous.
an old hillbilly mixed in with professional speakers!”
I'd have offered her 20% off the Polar Bear Challenge but Obviously way too star struck to say anything beyond "can I have a photo?" 🤩@runcamille there is always a a free place for you at any Big Bear Events. Amazing crowds at the @badboyrunningpodcast ultra stage.
Nice t… pic.twitter.com/q8rMVaRPfP
— Big Bear Events (@Bigbearevents1) January 26, 2020
Laz has another epic walking ultra across America planned for 2021. He will also premiere a new ultra this year, the Last Annual Heart of the South (HOTS), inspired by the extreme and increasing popularity of his Last Annual Vol State race.
Herron, too, mingled with fans over their mutual love of ultrarunning. Herron has an ambitious schedule of races lined up for 2020, including Comrades (which she won in 2017), Western States and UTMB. (Comrades is only two weeks before Western States. She refers to it jokingly as her “warmup” for WSER.)
“I’ve spent the past few years focused on the road ultras and records, and I’m very excited to transition back to more trail running and racing this year,” Herron told us earlier this month.
In terms of her experience at the conference, Herron was very enthusiastic: “They totally get it in what a trade show should be about,” she told us. “It’s not just about highlighting the brands–it’s about connecting the people in the sport to elevate each other. The had inspirational stages with various speakers. I spoke at both the ultra stage (Fireside Chat with Camille) and the larger inspirational stage… It was packed for both! They needed a bigger area for the Ultra area! … They get it in celebrating the amazing humans and athletes in the sport.”