Neil Rhodes is no ordinary runner. He's a character who embodies determination, resilience, and an infectious sense of humour (plus the ability to talk the hind legs off a donkey!). Neil's list of ultramarathons is not just long; it's incredibly impressive, with no end in sight.
A Remarkable Journey
In 2011, Neil achieved the extraordinary feat of crossing 930 miles of mountains, spanning 180,608 feet of ascent, across six countries and two continents in just eight weeks. He set three new "World Firsts" by combining four races: TransAlp Bike, TransRockies Bike (Canada), TransRockies Run (USA), and TransAlpine Run. Neil is a ten-time Transalpine competitor and a four-time Transrockies competitor, holding the unique distinction of being the only person to have run across both the Alps and Rockies, back to back, four times. He's also an eight-time GB squad competitor at the World Indoor Rowing Championships and a Guinness World Record Holder for One Million Metres on a Concept2 rower.
The Motto: "Nothing worthwhile doing is ever easy."
When asked why he embarks on these incredible journeys, Neil's response is simple yet profound: "Why not?" He believes life is too short not to challenge oneself and constantly seeks to discover what his body is truly capable of. Neil is not an elite athlete; he considers himself a "completer," with his goal being to complete the task at hand.
The Journey to Becoming an Ultra-runner
Neil's journey towards becoming an ultrarunner was not a straight path. He started smoking and drinking in his youth, but a moment of realization came when his first son was born in 1984. Out of breath after playing in the snow, he decided to change his unhealthy habits. He eventually sold his restaurant business, re-trained in human anatomy and physiology, and made his passion his profession.
Embracing the Challenges
Neil doesn't see retirement on the horizon. He cherishes the ability to be active and share adventures with his children. However, he acknowledges that physical limitations, such as his deteriorating eyesight and a genetic predisposition to arthritis, may ultimately dictate when he steps back from extreme endurance challenges.
Life Highs and Lows
While Neil has experienced numerous highs in his athletic pursuits, his personal low was losing his mother, a strong and inspirational figure in his life. Her memory continues to shape his determination and resilience.
Favorite Race: The Gore-Tex Transalpine Run
Among all his races, Neil's heart belongs to the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run. He calls it a "Life Event" because the memories and friendships formed during this race last a lifetime. It's a journey of competitors becoming a supportive family, guided by a dedicated race crew and sponsors who are passionate about the runners' experience.
Training Grounds and Gear
Neil's favorite training ground is the South West Coast Path near the Jurassic Coast, offering challenging but breathtaking runs. As for gear, he trusts Gore Running Wear and Salomon shoes for trail running, and Asics for road running. Neil has always used Garmin for GPS but is open to trying Suunto in the future.
A Message to Outdoor Enthusiasts
Neil's advice to outdoor enthusiasts is simple yet profound: invest in your health by spending time outdoors. Create lasting memories and fill your "memory bank" with happiness. Life is meant to be experienced, not just existed in. Neil's journey is a testament to the incredible adventures that await those who dare to challenge themselves and embrace the outdoors.
Join us at Sports Talent as we celebrate the remarkable journey of Neil Rhodes, an inspiration to all who seek to push their limits and experience the fullness of life through sports and outdoor adventures.