zero to hero

This week the Ultra X team caught up with Emily Like, one of our Sri Lanka fin­ish­ers, to talk about her exper­i­ence in the jungle.

Amaz­ingly, 4 months pri­or to Sri Lanka Emily had only ever ran 5km! We wanted to find out exactly what pos­sessed her to sign down, how she pre­pared for the race and what she would change for next time.

Pri­or to Sri Lanka you had only ever ran 5 kilo­metres, what made you decide to take on the chal­lenge of an ultra?

There were a couple of things that made me want to do an ultra, there’s the obvi­ous one of want­ing to chal­lenge myself and see wheth­er I could do it or not but also that my dad was a keen ultra run­ner (back in his day!!) and I’d heard so much about all the adven­tures he’d had and all the amaz­ing people he’d met along the way that I always had it in the back of my mind that one day I’d like to give it a go!

You decided to dive straight in with a 5 day, multi-stage, 250 km race in the jungle! Why this approach rather than start­ing with some­thing short­er and work­ing your way up?

I think the short­er the race the more expect­a­tion there is on need­ing to run fast! I’m def­in­itely not fast, so for me a multi-stage ultra seemed more achiev­able. Unless you’re in the elite cat­egory no one ever asks what time you ran it in, they’re only inter­ested in if you fin­ished or what you saw or what the coun­try was like. It’s also totally accept­able to walk in an ultra mara­thon but I’d feel more pres­sure in a 10 km race to try and run the whole thing. 

What was more dif­fi­cult, train­ing or the event?

Def­in­itely the com­mit­ment to train­ing. I felt guilty if I missed a ses­sion! I actu­ally really did enjoy train­ing for Sri Lanka but It’s nice now not to have the pres­sure of “hav­ing” to go out.

Can you describe a typ­ic­al train­ing week? Where did the train­ing plan start and what did your biggest week look like?

As I men­tioned earli­er, my dad was a keen ultra run­ner so it was an obvi­ous choice of who to turn to when it came to put­ting a train­ing plan togeth­er for Sri Lanka. I really focused on get­ting time into my legs rather than any speed. I spent hours running/hiking around the Brecon Beacons just get­ting my legs used to being tired and hav­ing to get up and do it all again the next day. A typ­ic­al week for me was a mix­ture of short­er runs dur­ing the week­days, three swim ses­sions, a gym ses­sion and then some long days on the hills at the week­end. My biggest week was about 58 miles, that included a 37 miler on one of the days. Everything was slow and low impact to try and stay injury free!!

How did you fuel and hydrate in the jungle?

I kept my food super simple and took “nor­mal” food that I knew I liked, M&M’s, pret­zels, pea­nuts, cashews and pork scratch­ings!! For hydra­tion I used Nuun elec­tro­lyte tab­lets in one 500ml bottle and plain water in anoth­er 500ml bottle and this worked for me. I’m not a big fan of elec­tro­lytes so hav­ing plain water was great to get the flu­ids in me when I really couldn’t face the after taste of elec­tro­lytes.


You fared incred­ibly well and appeared to get stronger as the week went on. What advice would you give to someone approach­ing an Ultra X event for the first time?

Thank you! I loved it and would recom­mend for any­one to just sign up and go for it! My biggest advice would be to make sure you do your own race includ­ing the train­ing! Try not to read to much about what every­one else is doing because what works for them might not work for you. Unless you’re one of the elites and aim­ing for a podi­um fin­ish just stop some­times and look around you and most of all, enjoy it!

What would you change if you were to go back and do it again?

I’d take more pork scratch­ings and more dry socks because noth­ing dries in the humid­ity we exper­i­enced in Sri Lanka!!

What’s next?

I’m still not sure I’m ready to become a prop­er “run­ner” yet so prob­ably anoth­er multi-stage race in a hot coun­try — I’m really not a fan of UK weath­er! Nothing’s set in stone yet but I have a few in mind!

Emily com­pleted Ultra X Sri Lanka with her boy­friend Ant and they are rais­ing money for Mind. Should you be inter­ested in sup­port­ing their cause you can find out more here.

Emily’s Packed Kit for Ultra X Sri Lanka

- Ulti­mate Dir­ec­tion 10L pack

- 2 x 500ml soft bottles + anoth­er 500ml bottle in the back (this was left empty but had it there if I felt I needed to carry more water)

- First aid kit

- Com­pass

- Multi tool with knife and scis­sors

- Head torch and spare bat­ter­ies

- Nuun elec­tro­lyte tab­lets (I took 3 tubes for the 5 days)

- Sun­cream! Lots of sun cream!

- Spare socks.

A saviour 3 miles into day 1! For some reas­on the socks Emily star­ted in which she had worn lots on train­ing runs sud­denly star­ted to give a hot spot on my left foot but for­tu­nately she was able to change.

- Body­glide

- Food. I ate a lot of “real” food along the course and I think this was the reas­on I stayed so happy each day;

- Water­proof jack­et in a dry bag

- Leki Micro Vario Poles



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