Name: Emma Stuart
Hometown: Penrith, Cumbria (although originally from Sligo, Ireland)
Sport: Ultra Running
I'm a relative latecomer to the sport as I only started running in 2018. Before that, I'd only ever run for a bus and have fond memories of coming last at all the school sports days as a child! I did a couple of half marathons, then jumped straight to ultras, which is where I really found my feet and now I love them!
Get to know Emma
Tell us about your successes so far?
I only had a year of racing under my belt when the pandemic hit, so I feel like I've missed out a bit. That said, I completed a 60km ultramarathon round my garden during the first lockdown (527 laps).
In 2019, I ran my first ultramarathon – the 50km Manx Mountain Marathon. I was 2nd lady, and that surprise success really gave me the bug! Since then, I've won the Keswick 50km, Yorkshire Trod 50km, Lakeland 50, The LAP, The Montane Cheviot Goat and the Lady Anne's Way (where I was second overall).
What are you working on? What are your goals for the future?
Two of my biggest goals are to race the Spartathlon and Western States, but the qualifying criteria means that both will be a few years away. I’d also love to have a bash at the Barkley Marathons, but the secretive entry process still eludes me…
This year, I have a couple of big races which I'm focusing on, including the Lakeland 100 and the Arc of Attrition early next year. I also have a few ideas for projects I'd like to tackle but nothing set in stone yet!
Why do you run? What do you love about running?
I love running because it’s the simplest of all the sports and one of the most natural. I love the fact that it’s accessible to so many people simply because you don’t need anything other than a pair of trainers to get you out the door. It can take you places you will never go with a car or even a bike and it gives you the chance to see spectacular and awe-inspiring scenery all over the world. There’s a phenomenal community that has built up around this sport that means you will be supported whether you walk a parkrun or race in the longest ultramarathons in the world.
In today’s busy society, it’s so easy to spend a lot of time ruminating and worrying about things in your daily life. Running is the one thing that switches my brain off and wipes the slate clean. I don’t need to think about anything else except where I’m going or where my next foot placement is going to be. I particularly love ultrarunning because there’s a huge mental element to the sport which is often underappreciated. Going deep within my own head and and pushing myself far beyond what my mind thinks I’m capable of is hugely rewarding and makes you realise the greatest barrier to your own achievements is often not physical capability but mental resilience.
Which Scarpa shoe is your favourite?
I absolutely love the Spin Infinity's, which I wear for most of my big runs. They are phenomenally comfortable and they just bounce along the trails.
The Ribelles are superb for my shorter days on the fells as the grip is phenomenal and they are extremely light and fast.
Tell us about your best day running?
Too many to think about! If the sun is shining, the scenery is magical and the trails are flowing, it's a good day for me. In the UK, my favourite route is the Yorkshire Three Peaks. I don't think you can get a better trail, even if it is sometimes very busy!
What do you do away from your sport?
I'm a farm animal vet, so I have quite a physical job. It's often long hours and I sometimes work through the night, but I always think it's brilliant training for ultrarunning. I also have a huge interest in sustainable farming practices and the climatic impact of agriculture, so I spend a lot of time focusing on that topic.
Money and time no object, I'd do the "Triple Crown" - the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail but I'd link them all together using other trail networks to create a mega-multi-traverse of the US.
Keep up with the latest from Emma on Social Media