In a sport when it's often the older competitors who excel, Jez has stood out for the seven years he's been running ultras as a youngster on a mission. He arrived in the sport by chance more than anything else. His school and early university days all centred round the rugby field where playing six or seven days a week embedded a high level of fitness from the start.
"I have a little theory that my inner strength - which is so important to ultra running - came directly from my upbringing; playing a lot of rugby, climbing trees, riding my bike, all sorts of physical activities, usually in a relentless fashion. It was undoubtedly the foundations for the level of endurance I have today."
Jez picked up ultra running as a 'natural' progression from the marathon that he trained for as a one off charity challenge 2001. The attraction of ultra distance trail running came from a combination of a love for the outdoors, the excitement of adventure and the endurance embedded from his upbringing.
"Every long run in a new place provides a wonderful opportunity to explore. To me it is one of the greatest attractions of the sport; being able to cover long distances, non-stop, on foot, getting to the places that most can’t reach. To be solo, on foot, creates a wonderful sense of freedom in a world where day-to-day life is increasingly frantic. There are few sports that offer such a pure and unhindered way in which to explore the hills, mountains and countryside. When you run in places such as the Highlands of Scotland, the scenery inspires and gives strength to push you further. That’s what it’s all about for me.”
Jez won his first trail ultra marathon in emphatic fashion and has gone on to win most others he has started since then, establishing himself as one of the world’s leading ultra distance runners, both on the trails and the road.
Jez now has his sights firmly set on the global scene, building on the success of his biggest performance to date, a win at The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in August 2010.
Home: Dorset, on the south coast of England, with the best variety of trail running I have found anywhere.
Favourite Place to Travel: The Highlands of Scotland – working my way through the Munros and exploring the wild glens where it’s truly unspoilt.
Favourite Food: A home cooked Sunday roast.
Favourite Book: I’m not much of a reader, but I do have a habit of spending hours gazing at maps and plotting routes across the most inaccessible places I can find! I have a unique ability to plan an off road loop quicker than most.
How I Relax: An early morning coastal path run followed by a swim in the sea.
Little known fact: I don’t train to a specific plan, instead I ‘listen’ to my body and run hard when I feel good, and easier when I’m not quite ‘flowing’.
Best Ever Run: The West Highland Way, Scotland, in June 2006. I have run much faster and stronger since, but for pure enjoyment it tops them all.
Where it all began: Riding my bike, climbing trees, adventures as a kid.
'Running' Philosophy: Enjoy and feel the transition of the seasons, explore new areas, push yourself beyond your limits, run for a true sense of freedom, drift along and day dream.
2nd place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland
1st place – The Fellsman. Course Record – 10h 06m
4th place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA
7th place – The North Face Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco
1st place – The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
6th place – The North Face Endurance Challenge Final, San Francisco
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 19m
1st place – UK 100km Championships, Galway, Ireland. Personal best – 6hrs 58m
1st place – Commonwealth 100km Championships, Lake District, UK
1st place – The Fellsman, Yorkshire Dales, UK
3rd place – Western States 100, Sierra Nevada Mountains, CA
3rd place – The Lakeland 100, Lake District, UK
1st place – Connemara Ultramarathon, Ireland
1st place – Devil O’ The Highlands Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 5h 22m
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 24m
1st place – The Highland Fling Ultramarathon, Scotland. Course record – 7h 26m
1st place – UK 100km Championships, Edinburgh, Scotland.
18th place – World 100km Championships, Netherlands.
1st place- The West Highland Way Race, Scotland. Course record – 15h 44mins
1st place – High Peak 40/ UK Trail Championships
1st place – The Long Mynd 50, Shropshire
1st place – Round Rotherham 50, Yorkshire