When Allison Tai began running it was simply to lose weight. This was how fast life was about to change for Tai, who went from a novice just happy to be there to morphing into a high performance athlete ready to take on the world. She is a Spartan Western Canada Elite Team Athlete, last year placing second at the World’s Toughest Mudder. After meeting the down to earth mother of two for the first time, one can’t help but notice she was carved out of granite. Here is our Q and A on how she began her passion for running and how she hopes to do in the Worlds Tough Mudder competition this Saturday.
Q: When did your passion for running begin?
A: I started running in college to lose weight.
Q. Was Ultra running always your favorite distance?
A: I love running for the adventure, immersion in nature and sense of accomplishment so ultras (marathons) were a natural transition. It’s amazing the places your feet can take you.
Q. When was the pivotal moment you decided to take up Spartan Racing?
A: I’ve always done a lot of cross training and enjoyed new challenges so I was hooked pretty easy. I think the first time anyone jumps through the fire they’re probably in it for life.
Q. What is Spartan racing and is it a new sport?
A: Spartan racing is first a trail run on really gnarly terrain. You run through some crazy stuff. You also get to climb over walls, throw spears, carry heavy things, balance and swing around like a monkey. You’ll never get bored out there.
Q. How do you train for this type of obstacle course racing?
A: Lots of running miles form the base of my training. I also do a heap of body weight exercises like squats and pull-ups. I carry things. I hike. I’m lucky to have access to real obstacles to do technical work on them.
Q. What inspires you to do it and are there many women doing this type of extreme sport?
A: There are lots of ladies out there. And they are who inspire me. In fact, there’s a large group, Canadian Mudd Queens, full of seemingly regular women with jobs and kids who race. It’s unbelievable when you start hearing the stories of these women. They embody what Spartan racing is all about.
Q. What is next for you?
A: I’ll be racing World’s Toughest Mudder on November 14th in the dessert near Las Vegas. It’s a 24 hour – plus loop course with some crazy obstacles. World’s Toughest Mudder I think (this) is the fifth year they’re running it. I’m hoping for a podium but you never know.
Q. What do you eat before the run and afterwards?
A: I’m a fan of oatmeal with nuts and yogurt…and coffee…Always coffee. If it’s a really long hard race I want something greasy and meaty. Which is weird since I typically eat very little meat or grease.
Q. Is Spartan for everyone?
A: Absolutely – people in the open heats work together to get everyone over the obstacles. The team work and camaraderie is part of the fun!
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