Run 100: Sophie Mullins, 100km champion overcoming mast cell disease and inflammatory arthritis

Sophie Mullins knows a thing or two about determination. Living with mast cell disease since 2011, she has defied the odds to return to running after being told she would never run again. Sophie has gone on to become a first-place race finisher over distances short and long; a course record breaker at St Andrews Park Run (2015); a sub-3-hour marathoner (London 2015, team silver with Fife AC) and, in 2016, Scotland’s 100km Champion.

She joins us at TrailFest to share the story of her remarkable journey, her refusal to accept defeat and her determination to fight for her dreams. Too ill to train or race at all in 2012, the following year she ‘celebrated her diagnosis-versary’ with two first place finishes at Hill of Tarvit and Chariots of Fire; this year she bettered it with three first place finishes in five days at Hill of Tarvit, Chariots of Fire and Templeton Trail.

Read on (below) for Sophie’s interview; check out her blog and find her on twitter at @1stTinyRunner.


Running for Scotland at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km. Photo: Debbie Martin-Consani
Running for Scotland at the Anglo Celtic Plate 100km. Photo: Debbie Martin-Consani

TF: When did you start trail running?
SM: I started on the road with occasional trail races. My first ultra (Speyside Way in 2014) marked my transition from road runner to trail devotee.

TF: What do you run for?
SM: Those moments when it feels like flying.

TF: What’s your proudest running (or running-related) achievement/moment?
SM: Representing Scotland in the Anglo Celtic Plate in 2016 – and holding out for a British Championship bronze after tearing my calf with 40k to go!

TF: What’s been your darkest/bleakest moment/time running?
SM: After a long period of increasing ill health being told (and believing) I would never run again. It broke me so completely.

TF: What did you learn from this?
SM: There is a deep well of resilience in us all. Drilling down to it through the darkness is tough, but the reward is hope. With hope you can get through anything.

TF: What do you think of when the trails get tough?
SM: How lucky I am to be running. If you see me grinning like an idiot while I’m running this is what I’m thinking!

TF: What is your next big race?
SM: I’m trying to get enough UTMB and ITRA points to race the CCC in 2017. Illness and injuries have meant I’m leaving it very late! Next up will be The Grand Tour of Skiddaw (if my injuries heal in time), Round Ripon and (maybe) Barcelona Trail. The big dream is to get an elite place in the UTMB by 2020.

TF: Who (or what) is your running inspiration?
SM: Our incredible world inspires me to explore new places. And so many people have inspired me, from global superstars like Emilie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet to club mates like Megan Crawford and Del Rae. Megan and Del are examples of sheer hard work paying off (and we share a super coach in Ron Morrison!).

When you have something taken away and then given back, as running was for me, the act of running becomes inspiring in itself.

TF: What three words would you use to describe your relationship to running?
SM: Perseverance, peace and joy.

TF: What one piece of advice would you give to others?
SM: Be patient, train smart and never, ever give up on your dreams.

Run 100: Scotland’s 100km champion Sophie Mullins on her remarkable running journey overcoming mast cell disease and inflammatory arthritis

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