From Dorset to Desert…

The story of Tim Gardner’s journey to running one of the toughest ultra marathons in the world!

It’s easy to say “I’m going for a run” and it is even easier to think “from Monday I’ll get fit”. Most of us have or still do argue with our best intentions and for some of us failure to launch is the typical outcome. I have heard many reasons to want to start exercising and for most I hear they are legitimate in a modern society where family, work and choice create barriers that are easy to walk away from.

Running is the simplest form of exercise to get in to. £30 pair of trainers is a great start, pair of short and a t-shirt… BOOM… You’re ready to go.

This is the approach Tim took; what’s hard to appreciate is where this urge came from. A chap who never considered himself to be a runner let alone enjoy a dark evening out in the Dorset countryside. He wasn’t without sports growing up, cricket and rugby were his main outlets of energy. However, like with most of us, sport and exercise took a back seat in the gods as Tim’s career in Arboriculture grow into the business he owns today. Climbing trees, as I call it, I’m sure is less than easy, with the physical demands on your body being just as high as the risk of losing a limb in the process!

Tim in one of his better moments on the Dorset coastline

It was in April 2016 that Tim decided to launch himself into running. This change wasn’t due to a moment of exercise inspiration or a passing fad to get fit quick. Tim had endured the painful experience of losing his mother to cancer, an experience no-one should ever go through. Tim was humbled by the support his mother received from the Go Girls support group in Dorchester Hospital and wanted to offer his support.

With the demands of running a business and being a father it would be very easy to walk away from any new challenge. He also knew that in order to quit smoking he would need a steady focus to keep his mind busy. With this and the grief of losing his mother, tim decided to set a challenge that was quite different from the 10km race around a local park we see so much of today. Tim chose a challenge of the same proportions as his mothers struggle. The Marathon des Sables; an ultra marathon spanning 251km over 6 days. Deserts are not a cold place; with an average temperature of 50 degrees any free range egg would think twice about booking a holiday here. Tim came across the event through a friend who had completed the race a few years ago. With a quick browse of the Internet Tim had found his challenge. Who’d have thought Google could be so evil! Not even the sight of a YouTube based fluffy dogs dancing in a tutu could be quite as fearful as seeing this mission impossible pop up in your search results. This didn’t deter Tim. This was his focus, this was his goal, to take his inexperienced body and mind into an ultra endurance event only a seasoned pro would consider. A goal this size has gone beyond creating an impossible barrier but instead has motivated Tim to change his routine, change his focus and more importantly change the way he viewed running.

Running day 1 was not the average start to any typical chap. A brisk jog up the beach to see what the engine has got? Nope, not for Tim. His new found energy took his 10 km to Studland and back via the sand dunes. It was clear from the beginning that Tim wanted to challenge his body. This isn’t something I would recommend for the average beginner; far from it. It soon became clear that Tim had a sense of purpose and the attributes of a long distance runner.

There are few people I have met who have taken an organic approach running. Not following a training plan, or the path another runner took. Instead he has listened to his body. I can’t overstate how important this is to any aspiring runner. Training programmes are not designed for you, they’re designed upon the average person. They don’t take into account how your body reacts to exercise; your genetic make up, your mental discipline… Etc. Even though it is easier to follow, I find too many people stop running because the plan doesn’t fit. Training plans are a guide and need to be used as such.

Want to find our more about Tim’s journey? I’ll provide weekly updates with his progress and some tips on how to keep your body in tip top condition.

For questions about runner and Tim’s journey get in contact…