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Mark Howard Athlete Ambassador

by Alexandra Parren
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Sundried ambassador climbing

Mark competes in the unusual sport of tower running which consists of running up stairwells in skyscrapers in London. He talks to Sundried about training and racing. 

Have you always been into sport?

I grew up swimming and that has been my true sporting passion since childhood. I find that keeping active is essential to my mental as well as physical health, so after I hung up my competitive speedos, I needed to find a new challenge and ended up getting into running as well as dabbling in some triathlon while I was living in the USA. Recently, I have started tower running (also known as climbing) which allows me to stay fit and healthy while competing at a high level. A big draw for me is that it’s affordable to train and aerobically challenging whilst being low impact, and it’s a great group of people. Competitions are a little more expensive so I need to budget, but to me that’s worth it.

What made you decide to enter the world of tower running?

I found an event at the Broadgate Tower in London and decided to give it a go. I managed to come third over two climbs and was invited to join an expanding group of tower runners based in London called Total Motion Tower Runners. I have been getting more and more into the sport ever since.

The physical challenge of running up towers is something I’ve grown to really enjoy as a sport in itself, but I would recommend it to anyone wanting to supplement their discipline with some excellent strength and aerobic training. The only downsides are that the stairwells can get really, really hot, and you can get some very funny looks in the lift going down!

Where's been your favourite place to climb?

Broadgate Tower in the City of London is where Total Motion Tower Runners train and it's always an excellent team environment in which to push yourself to your limits while having fun.

I also have a soft spot for The Leadenhall Building (known to locals as 'the cheese grater') where I won my first race and hold the course record.

Have you ever had any climbing disasters?

Unfortunately, I cracked my hand on the banister recently and broke it.

How do you overcome setbacks?

After a good week or so of moping, I like to get all the information I can, from as many sources as I can, about what went wrong. Then I like to formulate a plan and go after it.

What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?

Go out slow! The nature of tower running is such that if you start too fast, you find yourself breaking physically while still facing a 45 degree slope! I’ve never known a sport where if your endurance and form go, they really just vanish into thin air. I spend a lot of my time training and working on race pace efforts to ensure I don’t blow up before the top of the tower.

What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?

There are only a few races left this year but I hope to break my record at The Leadenhall Building and put in a winter of training that will set me up to get a higher ranking on the vertical world circuit.

Who do you take your inspiration from?

As a swimmer, I looked up to Michael Phelps for his unrelenting work ethic in the lead up to Beijing as well as a butterfly stroke nothing short of artistic.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

I have been trying to make more ethical and environmentally sustainable choices regarding my purchases for the last couple of years and thanks to Sundried I can now apply this ethos to my sports gear. I also like that the kit wicks sweat while I'm working out in a stuffy tower stairwell and that the blue Eco Tech fitness top really sets off my eyes.

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