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Interview with Peter Clist

Interview with Peter Clist


Last updated: 06-Nov-18


Peter, who will turn 60 in 2015, started running 30 years ago in an effort to lose weight – and he hasn’t stopped running since. He has completed the Marathon des Sables (MdS) three times, including the wet year in 2009 and wants to run in the MdS30 next year. Other challenges being considered include an Ironman and the Everest Marathon. Read more of Peter's top tips and ultra running experiences below:

Your experience of ultra running

Q. How long have you been doing ultras?
A. I've been competing in Ultra marathons for six years now.

Q. How did you first get started doing ultras?
A. I really wanted to challenge myself beyond marathons. Also, I had suffered repeated injuries so off-road running became more appealing because of the reduced risk of injuries.

Q. What motivated you to start running?
A. I am 58 years old and at aged 28 I was overweight and a smoker. Running was the answer. My first runs consisted of running in the dark with a plastic bin liner underneath for a maximum of 100 metres before I thought I would collapse.

Q. When did you do your first ultra race?
A. My very first Ultra race was the MdS in 2009 – the wet year! We experienced flooding in the desert and because the race was re-routed, ran the longest single stage recorded in MdS history which was 96km.

Q. Why do you keep running ultras?
A. Essentially I enjoy the training and the challenge of competing in ultras. The camaraderie with other competitors makes the whole experience really worthwhile and of course the competitive spirit lives on.

Top Tips for running 

Q. What are the essential ingredients to being successful in ultras?
A. A determination to succeed, a love of running, a strong mind and a sense of humour.

Q. What tips would you give to someone doing their first ultra?
A. I am still making mistakes! However, my top tips would be: • Fluid and salt are key. • Shoes should be half a size bigger and wider. • Train long. • Keep bag under 8kg if doing MdS. • Train in your race gear, experience the feeling.

Q. What type of kit do you feel is essential for an ultra?
A. It is a very personal decision and depends if it is assisted or not. But, whatever you take, make sure you have tried it many times before you race.

Q. What is the one thing you never travel without?
A. The wife! And my iPod.

The good times running

Q. What is your proudest running achievement to date?
A. Finishing my first MdS in the rain in 2009.

Q. What has been your favourite ultra to date?
A. My favourite ultra race so far was the XNRG Pony Express New Forest Multistage Ultra ran in 2013. It’s a 60-mile, two-day circular route through the lovely new Forest in Hampshire. It is organised by Neil Thubron of XNRG, we met in a tent in the desert in 2009 and have been friends since then. Neil has a unique philosophy and organises great races that allows everyone the chance to experience an ultra in great locations without the fear of a cut of time.

Q. Which type of ultras do you like best?
A. The races I like best are assisted multi -day events in the UK.

The rough times running

Q. What has been the most challenging ultra to date for you?
A. Definitely my first MdS in the rain as my feet were trashed in the changing conditions.

Q. What aspect of ultra running is the hardest for you?
A. Not being satisfied with my performance, always wanting to improve.

Salvation time

Q. Who or what has been your biggest help in doing ultras?
A. My wife who also competes.

Q. Have you made any significant sacrifices to complete ultras?
A. None. Running is such a pleasure and we are very lucky to be able to compete.


Q. What have you learned by doing ultras?
A. I’m still learning and improving. Be strong in the mind and fit in the body

Q. How do you feel ultras have changed you and your life?
A. Training and running is my life – I have been doing it for 30 years.

Q. Any helpful sayings or beliefs that have helped your running?
A. If you have done the training then simply believe in yourself.

Q. How do you get motivated to do the training?
A. That's easy – I love being fit and healthy and living near National Trust land makes running a real pleasure.

Training and Prep

Q. How do you train for an ultra?
A. It’s a mixture of gym (core and weights), cycling, running, and rowing to avoid injury.

Q. How does your training differ for each type of ultra?
A. Non-assisted races require training with a loaded bag, otherwise ultra races are pretty similar and require similar training.


Q. What race are you doing next?
A. Undecided as I am 60 next year and want to complete an Ironman. I also want to compete in the Everest Marathon and, of course, 2015 is the MdS30 which I want to complete for the fourth time.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with your ultra running in the future?
A. To keep healthy and keep improving and one day run a perfect race.

Q. What would be your dream ultra event?
A. Perhaps I do not want one as I like to keep dreaming of winning in my age category and dreaming keeps me motivated.

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