Three years ago at the age of 37, James Stewart resolved to push himself to become “age grade” competitive by the time he was 40. Earlier this year, he won the 95-mile West Highland Way Race outright – the latest in a string of victories that includes the Glen Lyon Ultra (2016) and new course records at the the Clyde Stride 40 and Glenmore 24 in 2015.
Yet back in 2013, James was an ‘ordinary’ runner who didn’t believe that winning races was possible for him. He joins the TrailFest speaker and trainer line-up to tell the story of how all that changed, and share the secrets of how he balances a serious training regime with a young family and a busy job. You can even join him for a speed-training session to see his winning techniques in action!
TF: When did you start trailrunning?
JS: My first trail race was in 2012 and I swore it wouldn’t be my last!
TF: What do you run for?
JS: Initially it was to lose weight and get fit. Since then it is grown into the pursuit of improvement and being the best I can be.
TF: What’s your proudest running (or running-related) achievement/moment?
JS: Getting picked for Scotland was absolutely beyond my wildest dreams when I started this journey proper a few years back.
TF: What’s been your darkest/bleakest moment/time running?
JS: I DNFd my first ever ultra. It was a hard lesson.
TF: What did you learn from this?
JS: That mentality, preparation and resilience are as important as the act of running itself.
TF: What do you think of when the trails get tough?
JS: I channel my training more than anything, trying to replay the fact that I have been working to get into this position and it is OK, in fact, it is necessary.
TF: What is your next big race?
JS: Next big race is the Tooting Bec track 24 hour race in September. After that I have nothing booked in but I do have the Antonine Trail Race to direct in late October.
TF: Who or what is your running inspiration?
JS: ‘Who’: my family and friends. ‘What’: the love of the outdoors and the feeling that comes with being in that special place.
TF: What three words would you use to describe your relationship to running?
JS: Spirit>Light>Speed (the name of an Ian Astbury album)
TF: What one piece of advice would you give to others?
JS: Find a way to be positive and make sure you do what you love, because you will love doing it!