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Second Place at the Pilgrim's Ultra ~ Josh Hignall

I am by no stretch of the imagination a natural runner; fitness & running were my least favourite part of rugby training at school & after leaving school and going to university I did no fitness training or regular physical activity for years. When I started to run a few years ago it was to try and get some head space & have an hour without my mobile phone. Little did I know what I had started…

I remember my first run on The Downs in Bristol, I was wearing my brother trainers as I didn’t have any and I don’t know how far the run was as running apps or a running watch were unbeknown to me at the time; it certainly wasn’t far and I certainly didn’t enjoy it. I decided running wasn’t for me after all.

A few days later I decided to give it another go so I donned my brothers trainers again and went out for another half an hour or so; again it wasn’t particularly far, fast or enjoyable – but it was better.

The next few weeks went on like this but I persevered & even bought a pair of my own trainers; eventually the runs became more bearable & I started to track how far I was running – usually 4 miles or so. As many new runners do I wanted to sign up to an event that would give me something to train towards and would push me further.

I signed up to the Bristol Half Marathon which was taking place a few months later in September 2017 & spent the next few months very gradually increasing the mileage until the big day. Lack of experience and an abundance of excitement made me go out way to fast and resulted in a pretty agonising final few miles & I remember crossing the finish line thinking ‘how on earth do people do that distance twice’. That evening I signed up to my first marathon.

After competing the first, I went a bit marathon mad trying to chase the sub 3 hour mark then two things happened; I decided I didn’t enjoy racing on the road anymore & I wanted to run further.

In May 2019 I did my first trail run and ultra, the St Illtyd’s 50km race, with over 4000ft of elevation it was very tough coming from predominantly flat road running and a shock to the legs! The following day when i was sofa bound and unable to conquer the stairs in my house I signed up to The Marathon Des Sables – possibly a little rash and premature after just one trail race/ultra but I had 10 months to train, what could go wrong?

It was at this point that I decided I needed help, I had seen Kerry’s name popping up on social media so I got in contact & we have been working together since last June. Kerry has ran the MDS herself which gave me reassurance and after obtaining where I was with my running/training Kerry comes up with a monthly training plan for me, building the mileage, introducing running with a rucksack and also incorporating strength training into my plan, something I had previously never done.

We have worked through a severe IT Band injury that took me out of running for a month through to a number of successful single day and some multi day races. The most recent being an 11th in the 70km Country To Capital in January & 2nd in the 105km Pilgrims Challenge in February.

With less than two months until I fly out to Morocco, and the pre race jitters kick in, it is encouraging to know that Kerry is only a phone call away to ask about kit, food, training or anything else. I am eagerly anticipating the next couple of months and look forward to continuing to work with Kerry training for my first 100 miler later in the year.


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