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'It's Just You Against The Elements' - Interview With Angela Mudge

If you've been following our 'greatest mountain runners of all time' (#WMRAGOAT) series on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you'll have seen that Angela Mudge has been a very popular nomination on that list. Living in Scotland and starting out in hill running and fell running,  Angela proved a very tough competitor in mountain running. She achieved 3 World Cup victories, won the 2000 World Championships and came 2nd in 2003, as well as notching up a large number of victories in mountain races around the globe. Since then she has given a huge amount back to the sport and is currently the National Lead for Hill and Mountain Running in Scotland. We spoke to her to find out more about her career highlights and what her future running plans are. 

 What have the highlights of your mountain running career been? Do any races stand out in your memory?

 I raced and trained in so many places it’s difficult to pick out single highlights, it’s often the people and the weather that make the experience.
 
I have special memories of winning Sierre-Zinal in 2000. I’d never experienced such an electric atmosphere in a race where I just got sucked along to a fast time. It’s not so fast now… I was the first woman to break the 3 hour barrier, running 2.56, and I’ve watched the times get much faster ever since!
 
I competed in the Skyrunning Series for a few years and one of my favourite races is Dolomyths run, Canazei. It’s such a spectacular mountain with an amazing scree slope.
 
Closer to home the one race that stands apart is the Isle of Jura fell race, it’s a magic place, very rough terrain and you never know what the weather will throw at you. Blazing sunshine one year then mist and high winds the next. It’s just you against the elements.
 
What have your proudest achievements in running been?
 
Winning the World Trophy in 2000. It was my first stint at altitude training so I had no idea how fit I was and it was a bit of a surprise to find myself leading the field.
In 2003 the Scottish women won the team event, this was special as all three of us competed for the same club – Carnethy Hill Runners in Scotland. There’s not many clubs that can claim to be World Champions!
 
Out of hill/mountain running winning the Intercounties Cross Country Championships in 1999 stands out, none of the XC runners knew who I was and even the commentator had to scramble around to find out who the Scot was who was leading the field.
 
Angela Mudge
Angela in a more recent cross country race (copyright Scottish Athletics)
 
We saw your recent foray into the currently popular sport of stair climbing for the 3 Peaks Challenge! How did you find it?
 
Extremely boring! I only completed the challenge because I’d met one of the organisers at an event and it was for a charity who were raising funds for a college to produce PPE. My stairs are very narrow, so running up and down them was never an option. It took a very long time and I definitely wasn’t being competitive. The aim was to finish injury free which sounds simple but when you have 3 dogs trying to join in, is quite an achievement.
 
Scottish athletes have been enjoying great success in mountain running in recent years with athletes like Robbie Simpson, Charlotte Morgan, Andrew Douglas, Jacob Adkin, and many others. Is it an exciting time for Scottish mountain/hill running? Are there a lot of juniors being inspired by this success?
 
It’s a brilliant time for Scottish endurance running across the board with so many athletes doing so well in numerous endurance events. I just hope we can continue. I’m the National Lead for Hill and Mountain running so am keeping my fingers crossed that juniors are being inspired by their success. With Andy and Jacob in the headlines the sport receives much more publicity than previously, so juniors are more aware of the discipline and hopefully tempted to have a go.  
 
Angela Mudge
(copyright Scottish Athletics)
 
Having raced all over the world are there any races that you never had the chance to do, but would still love to run?
 
There are new races popping up all over the place which seem to be getting longer and more extreme each year. I always had my eye on the UTMB but as it’s got more commercial I’ve shied away from it. I now prefer low key races which offer an adventure but have smaller fields and no hype. I love the simplicity of our sport in the UK which you just race and then disappear off down the pub at the finish. At the moment I just want to complete the Lakeland Classics and races on my doorstep which I missed during my international career.
 
 Once this current public health crisis has passed and it's ok to go out and run in the hills again, where will you head to and why?
 
I’m lucky as through the crisis I can run up the hills on my doorstep. The hill above my village is only 400m but a lovely little peak. However, I am missing the Highlands, particularly the west coast. I’ll probably pick an obscure peak where I’ll have views of the islands and the hill to myself. The munros are going to be busy when this is over.

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