Ryan Sandes ran 100 miles at home during lockdown… but now he is preparing to take on 100 miles in the Drakensburg!
Western Cape, South Africa (22 April 2021) – It’s been a year since Red Bull Athlete and ultra trail runner Ryan Sandes ran 100 miles at home due to covid restrictions, and now he’s preparing to take on the same task by signing up for the Drakensberg 100 miler taking place on Friday, 23 April.
37-year-old Sandes is a local and international trail running sensation, competing on all corners of the globe.
The Red Bull team sat down with the trailblazer to discuss his preparations ahead of the ultra-trail.
What have you been integrating into your preparation for the Ultra-Trail Drakensberg 100 miler?
My preparation for UTD has been a little different to how I would normally prepare for a 100 miler. I did a shorter, more intense block of training until about two weeks ago as my initial plans for 2021 was to run two races in Europe in April and May, but due to travel restrictions, this could not happen, so I decided to enter UTD. I was supposed to run UTD last year, but unfortunately, the event was cancelled, and I had to run 100 miles around my house. Haha. Luckily I have been running 100 milers for a while now, so I think my muscle memory will get me through a 100 miles, and I will also probably be feeling physically a little fresher, having done less volume in training in my build up.
You will be running amongst the majestic mountains of Drakensberg; what are you most looking forward to for the run?
We will be running for like 24 hours, so the sunset and sunrise are always really spectacular. I will also be running on some of the sections Ryno and I ran during our 2014 DGT FKT, which I have actually not run since then, so that will be pretty cool. Racing at home is also always really rad!
Why did you choose to run the 100 miler?
I have never raced a 100 miler on home soil, and the 100 miler is the main event at UTD so I guess it was the logical decision for me. 100 milers are my favourite race distance.
The endurance aspect of these events must take a toll mentally; how are you able to maintain focus during races?
Running a 100 miles is a huge mental challenge. I focus on breaking the race down into bite-size chunks, like just getting to one aid station at a time, and before I know it, I am crossing the finish line. I have never run the race before, so the new scenery also helps me stay focused and be present in the moment.
Leading up to an event/race that you are about to take part in, what does your diet look like? Is there a nutrition regimen that you follow?
I actually try to keep my diet leading up to an event pretty normal. For the race, I will be using a mix of solid foods like potatoes, bars, fruits and then some liquids like gels, Red Bull, electrolyte drink etc.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on sport as a whole – almost exactly a year ago; you ran 100 miles around your house in Cape Town under the constraints of the Lockdown regulations in South Africa. You mentioned that that was likely your hardest hundred miles mentally. What do you think you learnt from that experience that you think you can use for this weekend’s race?
Yes, it has been a crazy 12 or 14 months. Running a 100 miles around my house was mentally a lot harder than I expected. The big take out is to try and stay present and not stress about the things you can’t control. During a 100 miler, so many things can go wrong, and I always say it is the person who stays calm that does the best. I really just want to enjoy the race (well, most of it, I think the final 40km’s are going to be tough) and running in some pretty epic mountains. It’s always special to run at home with friends and family on the route.