Megan Baker Athlete Ambassador
Megan is a trail runner who has always had a passion for adventure. She talks to Sundried about some of the incredible races she's done.
Have you always been into sport?
I've always loved being outside and active, which has meant I've gravitated towards outdoor pursuits and adventure sports for most of my life. I started sailing dinghies as a young child; my grandparents were boat builders and my dad taught me to sail. From there I found my competitive buzz and competed nationally and internationally in my teens. Back then, running and cycling were sports I did to support my sailing training, rather than about having a standalone passion for them.
As my sailing obsession transitioned into realising the joy of a whole host of other outdoor sports, I got into climbing, then mountain biking and running. For the past 6 years, I have found myself focussing mostly on trail running.
How did you first get into trail running?
A friend of mine was signed up to an off-road duathlon which consists of mountain biking and trail running. At the time, I was cycling more than running but through training for and taking part in the event, I really fell in love with running on trails.
Inspired by the duathlon, I signed up to the Snowdonia Trail half marathon and, again, loved the process and simplicity of training for the race, then despite a pretty grey day for the event, I found it absolutely awesome.
The spirit of the trail running community is brilliant; fellow runners are so supportive and encouraging of each other, it was like nothing I'd experienced in competitive sport before. My standout memory from this first trail half marathon was running down the Snowdon Llanberis path, it was so much fun, I was genuinely grinning to myself! After this I was hooked!
What has been your favourite race to date and why?
In February this year (2020), I managed to persuade some friends and my partner to sign up to the 18-mile Cousin Jack Classic, with Bys Vyken Events, from St Just to St Ives in Cornwall. Once again, the weather was looking pretty ominous as Storm Jorge raged the country and we rocked up in St Just to wild winds and sideways hail and rain.
To be honest, we weren't sure if the race would go ahead, but these race organisers are amazingly hardcore (respect to the marshals!) It was the toughest race I'd done to date, even though I ran a 50km coastal ultra in June 2019. The trail was pretty technical with plenty of boulders, rocky sections and knee deep bogs to wade through. I definitely love a challenge, and this was certainly that.
The section of coast from St Just to St Ives is absolutely spectacular; location is a massive motivator for me and to have the privilege of running on this part of the South West Coast Path felt really special. There were rainbows, seals, loads of history of the Cornish mining heritage and the views of weather fronts coming towards us were really exciting!
What is your proudest achievement?
Finishing my first 110km run! Last year, I ran my first ever marathon, and first 50km trail run, so I didn't really know what to expect and just went into it hoping to finish. It was only a few weeks ago, October 2nd - 3rd 2020... turns out 3rd October 2020 was the wettest day on record, since records began! I wasn't sure if I would be scared running along the SW Coast path on my own through the middle of night, but ended up really enjoying some parts of the night run, but when the daylight started to appear the feeling was incredible and gave me a massive boost of energy.
I definitely felt proud for finishing this and coming 2nd female, but have a huge amount of gratitude to my amazing partner who met me along the way, made sure I ate and drank enough, and was the most amazing support crew I could have wished for!
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
Not running, but as a teen I was racing dinghies (420s) and for whatever reason I had made some poor tactical decisions, and ended up slogging along in last place. Frustrated with our position in the race, I decided to give up and go in. This was one of the best lessons I've learned, quitting felt really rubbish and I realised I was no longer racing and sailing because I loved it, but because I cared about my results.
A guy I knew from my local sailing club asked if I'd like to sail with him for a bit in a faster boat with a smaller fleet in the UK, it reminded me to love the sport again, being on the water having fun. I really try to embrace this feeling with my trail running.
How do you overcome setbacks?
If it's short term, like during a race, I try to remember why I'm there. I pick my head up and try to soak up where I am, take in the trail and embrace having the privilege to be doing this outside.
Earlier in the year, I had an ongoing foot strain that wouldn't go away. By cutting down on my running mileage, I got back out on my mountain bike and sought out some new local bike trails. It was so good to get back into something else for a bit and just take this as an opportunity to do something different.
What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started out?
Enjoy what you do! You have to enjoy the process, so focus on the process, enjoy what you're doing. It needs to be fun to keep on going!
What are your goals?
Maybe to run 100 miles... we'll see!
Who inspires you?
Courtney Daulwalter, she's a great trail runner with the most amazing attitude. Also, Emelie Forsberg, another really talented trail runner with a super positive attitude towards life and brilliant combination of professional athlete and lush approach to life balance with her dedication to her small-holding.
Why work with Sundried?
I really care about improving the way in which humans interact with nature and our planet. To be an ambassador for an organisation, which is trying to do exactly that, seems like a good fit. I would love to grow engagement with ethical brands that are trying to reduce negative impacts on the planet.