Many of you might be thinking, who? But if you don’t know, Charlie Sharpe is a UK runner kicking quite a bit of global butt right now as he winds his way around the world to a variety of races and taking the spoils. Specifically, he paid New Zealand a visit in March and April, where he won the Motatapu Ultra in a new course record. He then came across to Northburn and promptly won the 100 miler by an hour, just missing out on the overall course record by a few minutes, but on a changed course.
You could say, the harder the course, the more he excels and when you read a little more into Charlie’s background, you can understand why. I think if Charlie ever got an entry into Hardrock, he’d eat that course up big time. Big call I know, but I think he’d go very well.
We caught up with Charlie post his New Zealand frolics to see what’s made the man, what’s he up to generally and what he’s doing next.
What’s your running background / history What got you into running?
Before 2010 I was a keen climber and did a lot of bouldering, occasionally I’d get out and hike up a hill if it was too wet to climb, I enjoyed being outdoors but had no running ability to speak of. The running simply grew out of my love for the outdoors and trying something different.
What made you want to travel to NZ and race down under?
I came over in 2008 to work and travel around the country and discovered some of the stunning trails in the national parks, although as I mentioned I was climbing a lot, I was only hiking on the trails, not actually running yet. Coming back to New Zealand was something I’d always wanted to do and to run some of the stunning trails and races.
How did you find the racing in NZ compared to back in the UK?
To be honest, racing anywhere in the world is pretty similar, you get different terrain and different people sure. There are a lot more races in the UK, which serves a higher population of people, but the remoteness and rugged landscape in New Zealand is second to none.
You clearly like the gnarly technical stuff, what kind of training do you do?
Yes, generally the hillier the better! My favourite distances are the longer ultras particularly the 100 milers. My training varies through the year, I’ll generally use shorter ultras and trail marathons as my longer training runs in the build up.
I think the biggest training weeks in the months leading up to Northburn were just over 200kms with about 10000m of elevation, an easy week might be 80-100km.
Are you running full time?
I started coaching and training a variety of people in 2010, but it wasn’t long before I started to focus all my efforts on trail runners who are looking to perform better over longer distances. Between that and running myself I keep pretty busy but still try to squeeze in a little bit of bouldering too.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
For 2016 I’m back in Europe for the summer, I’ve got a pretty tough looking 170km race in Andorra which boasts 13500m of ascent, I’m spending the next couple of months focused on getting around that in one piece.
Beyond that in September, I have a multi-day 130-mile race and a single stage 180 mile event in the UK. After that, we’ll see where the world takes me!
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.