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The Pack / Katie Roby / Trail Running

Q&A with Merrell Pack Leader Katie Roby

Katie Roby Q&A

1. What drew your interest in fell running and when?

I’ve always done a bit of running, joining local clubs as I’ve moved around the country.  When I moved to South Wales 2 years ago I was keen to try something a bit different and found a fell running club called MDC who have provided the inspiration with their great series of Tuesday night fell runs.

2. How did you become an ultra marathon runner? Did you run a lot of marathons before and how did your experience in fell running help you?

Well, it sort of happened by accident.  There are a brilliant series of ultra-marathons in Wales, organised by Might Contain Nuts, and I was nudged by a couple of people from the fell running club to have a go as they were on my doorstep.  After a bit of resistance (i.e no way, I can’t run that far!) I caved in, entered and am now completely hooked! I’ve not done too many marathons; a couple of road ones which weren’t my cup of tea but had my eyes opened to a whole different world of running when I did the Monte Blanc Marathon in 2010. 

3. Is there any specific area or terrain you enjoy running the most?

I really, really enjoy the off road stuff.  For me, running is an excuse to do a bit of exploring, see some views and get some fresh air!  Put me on a rocky path, with a few hills and a bit of mud and I am completely distracted from the fact I am actually running.  There are some lovely long ridges in the Black Mountains that I particularly love; especially on a quiet summer’s evening.

4. What inspired you to work for the Mountain Rescue team and did your job as a physiotherapist have any influence on this decision?

The Mountain Rescue team is a really invaluable resource who provides a brilliant service to those who use the mountains.  As someone who uses them regularly I was keen to get involved and see if I could use my outdoors skills a little more constructively than for my own self-ish enjoyment.  There was also an element of wanting to use my medical skills outside of the hospital environment.

5. Tell us more about the training for the mountain rescue team?

I’m currently nearing the end of my initial training with the team.  We train one evening a week and then one Sunday a month.  On joining our navigation was required to be of a certain standard but other skills such as searching techniques, rope work, casualty care and radio communications have been covered during our weekly evening training sessions.  Once deemed competent, we become “probationers” where we are given pagers, can attend call outs but are under supervision of another team member. 

6. What expeditions have you done and which one was the most challenging?

I’ve been fortunate enough to go on a number of expeditions with the Officer Training Corp, one to Peru and the other to the Himalayas and have recently got back from an independent trip to Kyrgyzstan.  The most challenging was the expedition to the Himalayas, mainly because I was involved in the planning and leading of the trip.  Suddenly there were 18 other pairs of feet and dodgy tummies to be worrying about . . . .

7. What skills does it require to lead Officer Training Corp expeditions?

All your standard leadership qualities are important but the ability to deal with strong characters, particularly as a small female, was a skill I developed pretty quickly! Your own personal skills/fitness/organisation also needs to be spot on so that you can be of use to the rest of the team!

8. Is there any location you're dreaming of going to one day or any race you would like to participate/win?

Where do I start?! At the moment there seem to be an endless supply of fantastic UK based races to choose from but would love to attempt some more multi-day events, maybe even in warmer climates!!  Am always open to suggestions!

9. Tell us more about the Pembrokeshire coast path you are planning to do this summer?

St Dogmaels to Amroth, 186 miles, 35,000 ft of ascent/descent over 6 days, aprox 30 miles per day.  Some superb scenery if the wonderful Welsh weather allows us to see any of it.

10.  What are your plans for the rest of 2013?

In mid July I will be attempting the South Wales Traverse with some friends.  It’s a 73 mile route, taking in 31 summits over 610m (2000ft), totalling 5000m of ascent.  The challenge is to do it under 24 hours and I am tired just thinking about it.  I will also be doing the final Might Contain Nuts Ultra marathon of the 2013 series, the OMM and the Brecon 10 Peaks!


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