We recently sat down with Simon Staples, the Running Father of Twins. Simon had run over 200 marathons, 42 ultra marathons and is the holder of a Guinness World Record! Simon is also a professional coach (UK Athletics qualified) and runs a podcast Band of Runners.
Why did you originally get into running?
I’ve always run since my early teens. Usually a 5km, but the long distance stuff of marathon or above came in 2015. I got into it as a bit of office banter that very quickly got out of control. A work colleague and I (probably encouraged by the peer pressure around us) decided to enter a marathon. We went straight to the London marathon page, where my work colleague told me that it had “sold out”. We had no idea what we were doing. We found another one that wasn’t “sold out” or needed thousands of pounds to be raised for charity (just hundreds of pounds) and both entered Brighton Marathon 2015.
Did ever imagine it would take off like it did?
Absolutely not. If you told my younger self after that first marathon that I would go on to finish 213 official marathons (42 of these being ultramarathons), win 55 of them, hold a Guinness World record, co-host a podcast on running and become a qualified run coach then I’d of laughed at you. I never imagined anything like this. It snowballed very quickly and I fell deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of the running world.
Please tell us about the triple buggy world record, how did that come about?
The triple buggy record came about when a number of people sent me links to Cynthia Arnolds triple buggy Marathon world record saying I should give it a go. Her time of 3:11 was incredible as was the state of the art buggy she had. We contacted Guinness to see if they would allow us to have a crack at the half marathon. I am a father of twin boys and the idea of sharing something to do with my passion with them really appealed to me. Guinness accepted our application, I was shy of one passenger so we enrolled one of their friends from nursery, we also borrowed the nursery’s triple buggy. This thing was no state of the art running buggy, this was something the nursery used to take the kids on day trips to the post office etc. The thing weighed around 20kg and was a nightmare to manoeuvre. We found an official event that met the requirements Guinness required and managed to set the record at the Run Through Mercedes Benz World half marathon.
If you were going to take a rough guess, how many miles do you think you’ve run in total?
Funnily enough it’s a question I’ve been asked more than once. With official races of marathon distance and above the mileage is 5,780.2 miles. Same distance as London to Hanoi, Vietnam. I dread to think what it would be with training miles as well. Probably 11,000 miles at a rough guess.
Are you completing any races at the moment, or do you have any coming up?
This year my focus has been the Centurion Grand Slam with Centurion Running. These are 4x 100 mile races spread over 2020. They are the North Downs Way 100, The Thames Path 100, The Autumn 100 and The South Downs Way 100. Due to COVID the first two races were rescheduled so each race is now only a month apart really testing the runners recovery and endurance to the limits. Each race can be entered individually and usually attracts 200+ runners. Approximately 40 entered the Grand Slam (all four) this year, after two races 20 now remain and I don’t know how, but I’m still in! The final two races are the Autumn 100 miler in October and the South Downs Way 100 miler in November.
What’s been your favourite race so far?
I’ve always said the Mouth to Mouth river marathon in December with STE is my favourite. The race starts in Shoreham, runs up the mouth of the river Adur, across the South Downs Way to the River Arun then down to the mouth at Littlehampton. It’s a great 28mile point to point trail race that has everything in it. Rivers, hill top views, ups, downs and the guys at STE really know what they are doing when putting on a race.
Favourite distance to run, and why?
For me marathon is my bread and butter and so has to be my favourite. It’s a long way to go and for me still carries a sense of achievement each time I cross the marathon finish line. So many things can go wrong over the distance and it’s the buzz of getting things right and addressing them at each race. I love seeing and sharing miles with people running the distance for the first time. It’s a proper serious milestone distance that in my opinion is the most special for any runner when they cross the epic 26.2mile finish line.
How do you prepare for a race, what’s your routine?
Oh dear. I used to be very strict on this but it really depends on what race it is. If it’s a marathon there is no prep anymore. Back in my earlier days I would eat as cleanly as I could two weeks prior, no processed food or alcohol. It would be a brown carb heavy diet with good proteins and loads of salad, fruit and veg. I’d have an early dinner the night before containing dense carbs and that was about it. I’d keep hydrated as I could and prepare all race nutrition the night before.
My routine nowadays is far less strict and relaxed. It usually consists of a large meal the night before washed down with a beer or some wine. As long I make the start line the rest usually sorts itself out.
You run an interesting podcast called Band of Runners, what made you start that?
Like the coaching the podcast came about as trying to give something back and a way of documenting my experiences. I was at an event called the 10 in 10 in April 2019. This consisted of running a marathon every day for 10 days based in Walton on Thames, hosted by Phoenix Running . The event had entrants from USA, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, Belgium and Australia. One of the runners was a chap called Rob Cowlin who I had seen previously on the marathon circuit but never spoken to. Over the 10 days we would pass comments at the start each day. We are both total opposite ends of the running spectrum. I won the marathon each day and Rob would be propping up the runners at the rear. Our attitudes and thought processes on running are polar opposites and yet we had both completed a silly amount of marathons and ultras between us. A few months after the event I bravely got in touch with this stranger and just asked him outright if he’d like to chat about running. I wanted to hear what his opinion was and play it off against mine. It works well because we are so different and now over a year on we have become inseparable (god help me) and have formed a very good friendship from it.
At what point did you go from running to coaching?
In 2019 I felt that I had nowhere left to go with my running and I wanted to give something back to the sport. Being so passionate about it I decided to get my coach license with UKA and use the theory from it and my experience to help people improve their running. I’m relatively new to the coaching side but so far it’s been incredibly rewarding and has picked up interest.
If you’re not running, what would you be doing?
When I’m not running I’m usually with my kids, in the gym or on the sofa recovering with some red wine or more recently a gin and tonic.