Our latest Contender interview focuses on a true elite athlete. His ridiculous running speed has helped him dominate the Survival series over the last few years and his fitness levels are unquestionable. Although he may be suffering from an over-active year, he stands a very good chance of placing at the upcoming Spartan Beast and Survival of the Fittest London. We are very happy to introduce Mr Ross Macdonald...
Name: Ross Macdonald
Height: 180cm (5’11")
Weight: 70kg (11 stone)
Occupation: Office Manager, Sport Resolutions (UK)
Home town: Wimbledon, London (but I am a Devon-boy and support Swansea FC!)
On a scale of 1 to 10, how competitive would you say you are? 9.5
Hardest challenge to date: Ironman Zurich - running a marathon in 37 degree heat, after you have already been racing for six hours is ridiculous!
World Duathlon Champion 2012, 20-24 age group.
2nd at Lisbon Olympic Plus Triathlon 2013
6th at Red Bull Steeplechase 2012
2nd at Rat Race Dirty Weekend 2013
Sub 10 hour Ironman, Zurich, 2013
5th at Hever Castle Half Ironman, 2013
72 minute half marathon, Reading 2013
2nd place at London Survival of the Fittest
British Universities and Sport Multisport Champion, 2010
Swansea University Sportsman of the Year 2010
Wow, that’s an impressive list of results! Triathlons are obviously your first love, how and when did you start dabbling with obstacle course races?
I have always enjoyed running off-road, taking part in cross-country races since I was really young. I do love competing in triathlons but I get a real kick out of obstacle course races. The first one I remember doing was Cardiff Survival of the Fittest in 2009, when I raced for The ForGoodnessShakes team. I enjoyed that race so much and immediately I was hooked. I came fourth that day and although I should say that it was the taking part that counts, I was annoyed not to have been in the top three. Thankfully, when I returned the following year, I was third and then one year later I won it. I don’t like having unfinished business!
It always makes me chuckle when some obstacle races claim to be the toughest event on the planet. As somebody who has completed IronMan events, that must amuse you as well. How did you end up pushing yourself to that kind of level?
There are so many tough and challenging events out there; it would be difficult to call anything the absolute toughest. Having now raced an Ironman, I can confirm that it is extremely tough but the Dirty Weekend also left me very drained. It does make me laugh to read any race call itself the ‘toughest event’. If they are going to market themselves with that tagline then I would suggest that the organisers actually make it tough- rather than sticking a few hay bales in a field.
I enjoy pushing my body to its limits, both in training and racing. I am much more sensible than I used to be and now follow training schedules, race plans and think much more about pacing.
How do you juggle training for duathlons, triathlons and obstacle course races? Do you adapt your training schedule depending on what’s coming up?
I find that training for the three events actually compliment one another. The swim training I do builds my upper body strength. I have raced a bit too much in 2013, so I did not really have time to target training for one particular event. I tend to do a lot of long slow runs and cycles through the winter months before building the speed into my training in the spring. This winter I will also be focussing on core strength.
What’s your typical training schedule when your preparing for an obstacle course race?
If preparing for an obstacle course race I will mix up my normal training runs with squats, sprints, push-ups and sit-ups at regular intervals. I have taken a few tips from Jon Albon recently and will be incorporating some of these into my own training in order to close the gap on him!
You’ve had amazing success at Rat Race’s Survival of the Fittest and Dirty Weekend. Are you planning to come back and hit them harder than ever?
I would love to hit the Survival series harder than ever but, for once, I have been sensible and accepted that my body needs a bit of rest. One Ironman and one half-ironman within 12 weeks has ruined me! I am hoping to be nice and rested in time for Survival London, so that I can be at the front of the race again. Dirty Weekend was brilliant this year and I will definitely be racing it again in 2014. Hopefully it will be Jon Albon and I at the front again and, hopefully, I can go one better. I am expecting some new faces in both events that will be challenging us though.
It’s great to see that you’ve signed up for the Spartan Beast in November, it’s really looking like it’s going to be a clash of the obstacle course race titans. How prepared do you feel for the rugged terrain of Pippingford Park?
Although I have experience in obstacle courses I am a novice in the Spartan races so I will be relying on my run speed and endurance carrying me to a good finish. Some of the obstacles and challenges are sure to catch me out but in terms of terrain, the hillier the better.
Are you going out to win the Beast?
Ask me again at half-way.
Who do you think will be your biggest competition on the day?
Jonathan Albon is always on form and I would expect him to be at the head of the race. Although I am yet to meet him, Thomas Blanc is being touted because he has won all of the Spartan races so far this year. It will be really interesting for all of us to race each other and I am looking forward to it!
Looking forward, what are your plans for 2014? What events have you got your eye on?
Now that I have achieved a sub 10 hour Ironman in some stupidly hot conditions I really want to target a sub 9 hour Ironman, as you really are joining an elite group of athletes then. This may be a goal for a few years time though. Next year I will likely target the Half-Ironman World Championships in Canada, Dirty Weekend and the London Marathon (want to go sub 2.35). I will undoubtedly enter some other crazy races that I find out about and just cannot resist.
Thanks so much for your time Ross. We look forward to seeing you on the start line. Good luck!