We have great pleasure to introduce the second of our elite obstacle course race "Condenders". Ross has proved himself to be a true force to be reckoned with on this year's Spartan Race circuit... and, with his sheer size, is certainly one of the most intimidating competitors to stand beside at the start line. Will he have what it takes to take on a far longer Beast course, with an exceptional field of athletes? Only time will tell but it certainly looks like he's doing everything right. We caught up with him this week, take a look for yourself...
Name: Ross Phelan
Height: 189cm (6'2")
Weight: 85kg (13.6 stone)
Home town: Leeds
On a scale of 1 to 10, how competitive would you say you are? 9.5
Hardest challenge to date:
Being new to obstacle course racing, the hardest challenge I have faced so far is adapting to the scene and dramatically changing the way in which I train as the season has gone on, in order to improve my performance. This had to happen in a very short period of time due to the races being held so close together. For example I have now hung up the heavy weights, opting more for endurance training whilst improving my distance running.
London Spartan Sprint - 3rd
Cambridge Spartan Sprint - 4th
Ripon Spartan Sprint - 3rd
Edinburgh Spartan Sprint - 2nd
Midlands Spartan Sprint - 2nd
Midlands Spartan Super - 2nd
What other sports do you do / did you do before getting into obstacle racing?
Weight training, running, football and boxing.
Do you think your improved positions in the last few races are as a result of your tweaked training schedule?
Yes definitely, I have changed my style of training dramatically over the course of the Spartan Season in order to improve my performance and become more race ready. 2013 has been an amazing learning curve in the world of obstacle course racing.
Do you tend to do gym based training or do you take it to the outdoors?
I have always been a gym and circuit training junky! It was only this year when I started my Spartan training that I trained outdoors and joined the local running club. I am really enjoying the outdoor training at the minute, learning new limits that I can push my body too in a different way. Having said that, I still incorporate the gym session into my schedule, as I believe its important to have a cross section of training.
How did you manage your recovery/training/preparation schedule when the Spartan events were so close together over the summer?
The Spartan season is a tough circuit, as the races are every weekend and on one occasion two races in one weekend. So any little injury you pick up you are taking into the next race. It was an intense five weeks of competing, training and travelling across England and Scotland but a thoroughly enjoyable one, which provided me with good experience to take into the obstacle race scene in 2014.
How do you feel about the prospect of a far longer Spartan Beast course (potentially 25km)? How do you fair on that kind of distance?
Good question. If you would have asked me in August, I would have said I have never run 25k before and I am dreading the Beast. Now I am looking forward to the challenge and will hopefully learn from the experience and take that into 2014. As to how I fair on that sort of distance we are just going to have to see on the day!
Where are you hoping to place at the Spartan Beast?
I am going into the Beast with the same mindset I enter any race with and that is to push my body and mind to their maximum limits and cross that finish line knowing I had given it my all. A podium finish would be amazing but over 25k anything can happen. It's anyone's race in my eyes.
Who do you think is your main competition?
Thomas [Blanc] and Sam [Cherry] have both had some fantastic Spartan races this year and proven they are great athletes. I have not had the pleasure of competing against Jonathan [Albon] and Ross [MacDonald] but looking at their profiles they both have some amazing race results with great experience under their belts. With such a big race and so many obstacles anything can happen.
Looking at the main contenders you’re the Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren in Rocky) of the group. Do you think your size and strength is an advantage?
Ha ha excellent. "If he dies, he dies". My size and upper body strength definitely has its advantages in obstacle course racing when it comes to most obstacles, but can prove a disadvantage in some areas such as army crawl and getting down low under or through obstacles. This is where I have had to tweak my training, in losing some upper body mass and improve on leg work and endurance training.
Have you always strived so hard to win?
I don't think I have always strived to win; I have always had the attitude in life to try and better myself and learn from the situations that life throws at me and be the best that I can be in any given situation.
What has been your highlight of 2013 so far?
The highlight of 2013 has been the amazing adventure that the Spartan world has taken me on. That came out of nowhere really. I've met some amazing competitors, supporters, sponsors and enthusiasts on the obstacle race scene and I'm looking forward to seeing where the sport goes in the future.
Looking forward, what are your plans for 2014? What events have you got your eye on?
I cant wait for 2014, I think it's going to be a massive year for me. Obstacle course events are become more and more popular and I am definitely going to be filling my calender with a wide variety of events next year. Nuts Challenge is a massive event, Men's Health Survival of the Fittest looks good. I will be entering the Spartan circuit again and see what else pops up in the year.