Darryl Carter Interview

Darryl Carter (Cotswold Way Record Holder)

Darryl Carter is an elite long-distance triathlete and ultra trail runner, fitness coach and personal trainer. He has a number of academic qualifications for sports training,sports nutrition, and sports psychology. During 2012 Darryl finished first and set new records in both the Green Man Ultra and Malvern Hills Ultra, and set a new official record for the Cotswold Way Trail (20 hours, 36 minutes and 48 seconds).

We caught up with Darryl and asked him about his Cotswold Way experience.


  • You are the record holder for the 102 Mile Cotswold Way National Trail.The record had stood since 1994, and you beat it by almost 2 hours! How does that make you feel?

Obviously I was really pleased to beat the official record set by Frank Thomas in 1994.  I enjoy both walking and running trails and in recent years it has been an ambition of mine to try and beat a national trail record.


  • You ran from Bath to Chipping Campden, is there any particular reason why you decided to run from South to North?

I did consider both directions.  The South to North route starts and finishes with a couple of tough climbs and has a little more overall elevation.  However, the Harvey map and guides I had studied were S-N, and I prefer prevailing winds.  The support crew and official time-keeper also had to be considered.  Logistically the S-N seemed more suitable to everyone concerned.


  • Did you run alone or did you have crew and support?

I had an amazing support crew, and I certainly wouldn’t have achieved the time (or even finished!) without their help.

For the time to be official I was required to have a runner alongside me for the whole course to verify the route.  I had four runners for the first 20 miles out of Bath, with one runner continuing to Painswick (55 miles).  We also had a support driver with all nutrition required.  From Painswick there was a complete crew change, with two new runners and a new support driver to the finish.


  • What kit / shoes did you use and wear, did you need a map and what did you eat along the way?

There had been a sustained period of cold and wet weather prior to the week.  I decided to wear a pair of inov8 roclite cross-country shoes (soft studs) from the start.  However, the weather had switched in the two days before the run and we found it to be quite warm and a lot drier than expected.  I switched first to hybrid (road/xc) and then road trainers from 20 miles as my feet were already getting a little sore and stiff.  I like to race in compression clothing (from my triathlon background), so I wore 2XU calf guards and shorts throughout the run.  I had OMM tops, particularly useful for the colder night period.

I had a Harveys map that I would occasionally consult, but I didn’t have to worry about navigation because my running crew knew the route perfectly well.  This would be important, particularly at night.  I supplied the support drivers with printouts of aid stops (roughly every 7-9 miles), Harvey and OS maps.

I’m used to running on high sugar carbohydrate nutrition (energy drinks, gels, bars etc) and decided to stick with this for as long as my stomach would allow it!  I knew that once my pace started to drop later in the run that my heart rate would do the same and I would have less of a requirement for higher sugar carbohydrate foods.  We had all sorts of other foods available including various pies, rolls, etc and warm drinks.  Unfortunately by this point I find it quite difficult to eat.  This is an aspect of my (ultra) running that I am currently working on.  In 2013 I hope to be able to eat more of a balance of high carbohydrate and high fat foods.


  • What was the hardest part of the run?

I went through a number of bad patches during the run, but I knew that I would get over them.  The hardest part for me is always trying to consume food later in the event when my stomach shuts down.  It’s hard to describe how awful you feel, even your favourite snacks have to be forced.  The course itself is quite demanding, with relentless ups and downs over the escarpment.  Later in the run I was reduced to a walk up many of the hills including the sapping Broadway Tower.

  • At what point did you realise you were going to finish the trail and set a new record? Was it an emotional moment?

We were a little concerned during the night that the average pace was dropping lower than we had planned.  But once the Sun came up off Cleeve Hill we were in much better spirits and our pace improved.  It wasn’t until Broadway that we knew we had enough time in the bank to go under the course record, even with a walk uphill to Broadway Tower.  That was a huge relief.  It’s always a little emotional finishing something of this length and effort.  You put so much into it that it’s a relief to reach the finish line.


  • What did you think of the trail and the Cotswolds, did you like the area? Was the trail well signposted and in good condition for running?

I really enjoyed the Cotswolds, the views are amazing and we passed through some very quaint villages.  I’m keen to return in the next couple of years to hike the route and take a little more in.  The trail is very well signposted.  We had a dry spell prior to and during the run so the conditions under foot were not too bad, but I’ve heard it can get very muddy when wet so it’s best to pack a pair of cross country shoes or boots if unsure.


  • How long do you think your record will stand for? Will you run the Cotswold Way Trail again to try and beat your own record?

I don’t know how long the record will stand, hopefully a little while longer!  I’d like to have another go at some point, perhaps from North to South.  I may wait for the record to be broken first.


  • Do you have any other record attempts or challenges in the pipeline?

I’ve hiked both the Pennine Way and Coast-to-Coast trails in recent years and I would love to have go at running them.  I may attempt the Coast-to-Coast next year.   The records for both trails are very quick so I may do a recce first.


  • Our participants are going to run the Cotswold Way trail over 4 days, do you have any advice or tips for them?

Whether running or walking I’d suggest thinking about what gear and nutrition will be required over the duration of the challenge.  More comfort equals increased weight.  It would be a good idea to make a list in advance of all equipment that is required, and then eliminate anything that is not mandatory or necessary to completing the event.  As the event takes four days it would be better to pack clothing to cover any weather conditions.  This includes a choice of shoes.  Pack plenty of first aid including blister patches and lubes.  If you are worried about losing salts then pack electrolytes, that can be added to water.  This is especially important if you intend to do a lot of running and it’s warm.

As well as fuelling on carbohydrates it’s important to replenish the muscles with protein.  This can be done before and after the event.  If you are running then try and fuel yourself on higher sugar carbohydrates as much as possible.  Otherwise take whatever you fancy, just keep off the local beer and chips until after the event!


For more information about Darryl, and to follow is career, please visit his website by clicking here