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Ryan Sandes Trail Blazer interview

Ryan Sandes Trail Blazer interview

Clock23rd May 2016

Ryan Sanders interview

Team Salomon and Red Bull athlete, Ryan Sandes is a record-breaking, multiple award-winning ultra runner. He spent some time talking about achievements, his favourite places to run, fuel food and more 🙂

Ryan, since bursting onto the trail running scene in 2008 you’ve won an incredible number and range of races and awards. What do you consider your best achievement to date?

Thats a hard one, races like winning the Leadville 100 or winning the 4 Desert series come to mind. After writing my book I have realised it the small things I am most proud of. I won a K9 Search and Rescue 4km race with our dog T-Dog (Thandi) – looking back now I am pretty proud of that.



Why do you run?

I love the feeling of freedom it gives me and it has taking me on a journey to all seven continents. It is a form of meditation for me and allows me to escape the business of everyday life.


Where do you most love to run and why?

I love running at home on Table Mountain. I feel most comfortable there and love the combination of mountain and ocean views. It is an extension of my back garden.

ryan sandes table mountain

© Red Bull Media House



What has running in remote Malagasy and Nepalese villages taught you?

Keep life simple. The Malagasy and Nepalese people live extremely basic lifestyles but they are some of the most happiest people I have ever seen.


How would you describe the DrakTraverse?

One of the hardest things I have ever done. It’s a traverse of the Drakensberg Mountains, from North to South. You have to be self supported and know the Drakensberg Mountains really well. I have run on all seven continents and the Drakensberg Mountains are the most wild I have run in.

ryan sandes draktraverse

© Red Bull Media House


Mountains or valleys?

Mountains, they throw me out of my comfort zone.

Ryan Sandes SA Cederberg

© Red Bull Media House

ryan sandes scrambling

© Red Bull Media House

Your mind appears to be recognised as your greatest strength. Where does this come from?

I think I was born with it. I have always enjoyed challenges and pushing myself to bring out the best in me. I love running so mentally it is easier to get past the low moments. I am quite stubborn and I think that is a good quality for ultra runners to have – never give up.


What would you say to someone who thinks ultras and multi-day events are beyond them?

Anything is possible with the correct planning and preparation. One grain of sand at a time. You need to break your goal down into micro goals and bite size chunks.


Could you give us an idea of your training regime?

Its varies a lot depending on the race I am training for. I have reduced my millage a bit  over the last year as I think ultra runners tend to over do things. I run on average about 12 – 22 hours a week and then do some strength and mobility work on top of that. Its important to make sure your body is moving correctly and efficiently to run your best.


ryan sandes trail running SA

© Red Bull Media House


3 favourite fuel foods, go:

Pre-run – Nut Butter and honey on toast
During – Llama Bar and Red Bull and water
Post-run – Biltong (beef jerky) or chocolate milkshake



ryan sandes re-fuelling

© Red Bull Media House

What is so special about trail running?

It is so pure and simple and give you a direct connection with nature. We live such busy lifestyles these days that I think its important to have time to connect with nature.


How would you describe the ultra-running and mountain running communities?

Generally they are very core but extremely friendly and welcoming.


ryan sandes wanaka nz

© Red Bull Media House

What’s the best advice anyone has given you?

Live everyday as if it were you last. Make the most of life.


What adventures are you planning for 2016?

I am taking part in the World Ultra Trail Tour this year. I have already run the Tarawera 100km in New Zealand and will be running the Australia Ultra in May and then the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in August. UTMB is my main goal race. I have a few smaller races planned like Red Bull K3 etc. My wife Vanessa and I are also expecting our first baby in late September so that will be a very exciting adventure for us. In 2017/2018 I am hoping to do a Traverse of the Rwenzori Mountains with Ryno Griesel.


Congrats to you and Vanessa! 













ryan sandes on otter trail

© Kelvin Trautman

What South African trail would you most recommend to runners from abroad?

The Otter trail – it is one of my favourite trails and is so unique. Its combines really technical trail running with epic coastal trails and insane views of the ocean.

You’re a fellow Red Hot Chilli Peppers fan. What’s your favourite running music / playlist?

I like to mix up my play list up from old school classics to more recent stuff. I don’t like anything to extreme and listen to ‘background’ music when I am running. I like to be able to hear my surroundings when I am running.



Agreed! Nothing beats embracing your surroundings when on the trails 🙂 Ryan thanks very much indeed for sharing your experiences. Good luck with the book and UTMB 2016 too 🙂

Ryan’s book “Trail Blazer – My life as an ultra-distance runner” is available now

Ryan Sandes Trail Blazer


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