Meet the RfL Runners & Riders: Joff Evans

1. Tell us a bit about yourselves, where you’re from etc. And tell us about your history of running and cycling.

I got into running having been the fattest kid in my year at school. Ran London Marathon aged 18 in a bit of a “screw you all / check me out” manner having been self conscious about my weight. Did surprisingly well

Ran the last 120miles of Run for Love, had an experience like no other, and would not miss the sequel.

2. What you’re taking on is probably one of the most difficult things you’ll have ever done. The kind of thing most people think is crazy. So what made you want to sign up?

The experience of Run For Love is one of the best memories I have in my life. One of the things I will take with me to the grave. The camaraderie of a group of people, each doing the toughest thing they have ever done, each willing one another on to succeed is something I felt that could not be replicated. I still bump into people from that experience who I don’t really know and feel a connection with them that is difficult to describe.

Quite frankly, I was practically signed up before I even knew the repeat was taking place. I caught wind of a rumour and the seed was sown. Followed by about 15 missed calls and text messages to the lads badgering them for information.

3. If we don’t let it stop us from starting in the first place, healthy fear can be a really good thing. What are you most afraid of on the upcoming route?

My training has been punctuated by injury so I am currently not as fit or strong as I have been in the past. My biggest fear is not listening to my body in the event of serious injury, letting pride drag me on and causing long term physical damage.

That and camping…

4. Beyond the benefits for your physical health, are there any deeper motivations you have for doing these things?

I am fascinated by mental health, tools and tips for improving headspace and calming the mind. I see running as a form of meditation, letting the mind wander while the body does the same.

Making the only decision that really matters for this, to do it, setting that goal, and then going about achieving requires so many of the same thing as another important part of my life. Routine, hard work, teamwork, ignoring the mind’s pleas not to run and doing it anyway are all positive attributes and great for the mind. The lift I get from the mental discipline of training for an event like this is enormous.

It also gives something to talk about at dinner parties.

5. How do you train? Is it mostly a solo thing, one person alone in the elements, or do you prefer being in company?

The vast majority of my training is solo. Quite frankly, I struggle with training with others as my competitive urges tend to kick in. The desire that the other person thinks I’m better and stronger than I am drives my pace up, inevitably pushing me beyond my comfort zone. The advent of Strava has had a similar effect but it seems a more healthy motivator.

I tend to go to gym classes with mates where the competitive element is removed.

6. Can you think of any happy or sad or motivating thoughts that get your through the particularly hard times, that drive you on when you’re on the brink?

Memories of other physical achievements help with the challenging moments and I try hard to cling on to the idea that pain from physical exercise is temporary and immediately forgotten once over.

Recently I have been trying to use the mantra “One every 30 seconds” as a motivator, and the sponsorship that has been coming in has definitely assisted my training. Since my page went live my training has increased. Trying to remind myself that I am doing this in service to others, rather than purely for me despite the benefits, helps get out of myself.

It might also have something to do with finally reading the road book and the abject fear that came on upon discovering that we will climb the equivalent of Mount Kilimanjaro over the six days.

7. Once people discover it, running and cycling can become a completely indispensable part of their lives. Can you imagine your life without it?

This is pretty simple. The discipline of training improves my mental well being. Routine, hard work and ignoring the part of me that says “No” before each training session is beneficial to my life as a whole.

If I don’t train and don’t keep a level of fitness, my state of mind decreases pretty fast.

8. Some of you are taking on the whole challenge, all the way through to London. Others are just doing either the running or cycling legs. Why have you chosen one or the other?

I said this before Run For Love, but my intention is to hang up my running boots after this challenge and switch to cycling. Two broken ankles, two damaged Achilles and a family riddled with arthritis suggest that maybe running shouldn’t be a long term option for me.

I have long known that cycling is the only option, but been putting it off for as long as possible. I enjoy taking the piss out of cyclists with all their over priced kit and their shit chat, safe in the knowledge that I will be one all too soon. This is probably the last time I am going to be able to do this!

9. Lastly, apart from the finish-line, what are you most looking forward to?

The tanning time…