Young, fast and fearless
A prodigious young running talent with disarming modesty that belies his fearsome competitive streak, at just 22 Robbie Simpson is already making a serious mark on the international mountain running scene where he's represented Scotland and GB since he was 15. With a passion for the mountains and a monstrous turn of speed, he's as serious about nutrition as he is about his training and racing, which is why we are stoked to be sponsoring him with natural products to fuel his competition and recovery.
As he explains, "in the last few years I've been trying to improve my diet but I wanted to take it further, make a really good job of it.
"Looking at superfoods, I knew they were really good but it was very tricky to get hold of everything at the right time, so when I saw what was in 33Fuel, it looked pretty much perfect. Blended with coconut milk they're delicious and give me everything I need after a tough run.
"It’s just about feeling good. Like today, I absolutely panned myself in training, then I had a shake and a banana, and after about an hour I was fine. It helps me recover and feel fine, and then I ran again this afternoon and felt brand new. I always have them after every hard session.
"And when it comes to gels I like to eat nutrition that comes from real food and regular gels don't resemble anything natural at all - I avoid them at all costs. instead 33Fuel's Chia Energy Gels are natural and excellent. As an example, the other day I had a hard, long hill session and after that went straight into a 30-minute tempo run on the road, flat out. I had a gel at the changeover because they give me a real sustained energy boost, and not a nasty sharp one and then a low like with traditional gel.
- When you're running this hard, the right nutrition is vital
After falling into running with his local athletics club aged 12, Robbie saw a sign for a local hill race near his Aberdeenshire home and thought it looked like fun. He smashed it and came a second, while a return the next year caught the selectors' eyes and he was picked to run in his first international mountain race for Scotland at just 14.
By 17 he was running in the World Championships for Scotland, but when team Scotland merged into Team GB on the world mountain running stage Robbie knew he had to raise his game once more to make the cut. Two years later, he'd done it and joined Team GB. He hasn't looked back since.
- Representing Team GB at the 2013 European Championships
"Mountain running is what I love. Road and cross-country are enjoyable enough, but I run them to prepare for the mountains. I love the scenery, it just such a natural sport to run in those challenging environments, it's the nicest scenery in the world.
"There are very few sports where you can get out into places like that. Every mountain is different so every race is different which makes it very exciting. Even the same race can be completely different from one year to the next thanks to the conditions. And the people in the sport are great too - serious on race day, but loads of fun outside of it as everyone's sharing the same love and respect for the environment of the mountains".
Now we're not talking times here, not in terms of minutes and seconds anyway, rather more the races Robbie's run that really stick in his mind. Personal highlights if you will, and they look like this:
"Probably my best racing memory is winning the Snowdon mountain race when I was 18. It was the first year I was actually old enough to run the race (18 is the minimum age) so I was the youngest in field. Conditions were wet and windy, but I had a great day and it was a major turning point for me to win a big international race at that age. I loved the feeling of winning, and knew I could do that again in other races. It pushed me to work even harder going forwards.
"Last year finishing 18th at the World Mountain Running Championship in the seniors was another highlight, a very solid result among the world’s very best mountain runners and something to really build on for next year, while this year fifth place at Sierra Zinal was the highlight
"It was a massive race, with a world class field. Juan Carlos Cardona who came second is a three-time Olympian marathon runner, Jonathan Wyatt who finished third is the course record holder and the world's best mountain runner, while the great Kilian Jornet was fourth and I was in there with them which felt great.
"To be running with these guys now could be overwhelming, but you can't think like that in racing - when you smell the blood, you go and attack when you can, regardless of who it is in front. At one point during the race I could see Kilian ahead on a climb and when I realised it was him that pushed me even harder. I gave it everything and made it past him near the end, but on a fast, technical downhill later on he came flying back past!"
Seasoned running journalist Ian Corless at Talk Ultra called Robbie's race at Sierra Zinal "a world class performance in a world class field", tipping him as a "star of the future". We couldn't agree more.
- Smashing the fabled Jungfrau mountain marathon in Switzerland
In 2014 Robbie's looking for a Sierra Zinal return as well as the World and European Mountain Running Championships, plus the British university Cross-Country Championship too - as a student he's still packing his studies in around regular 100-mile plus weeks and international racing.
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