While many an ultra running story is dominated by some of the leading runners of our sport doing extraordinary things, think Kilian and Adam Campbell, there are everyday guys and girls doing very similar things – George Alexandropoulos for example.
Being part of the many different Facebook running groups that have sprung up over the years, you get to see some of these extraordinary things. Just normal guys and girls going about their business, living life, doing their jobs, but then achieving things in the running world that are to be frank, truly astounding.
As part of the newly set-up Victorian Ultra Runner’s Group, I came across one of those people, Melbourne man, George Alexandropoulos. He leads a normal everyday existence like most of us, except he’s challenged himself to run 15,000km in one year. That’s an average of over 40kms a day. It’s the same as circumnavigating your way around Australia, except he has a job and a life like everyone else.
Having looked at his stats, he cramming in 50 hours of running a week. I don’t even do that in a month! Intrigued, I wanted to find out more about what makes this man tick, so we grabbed some time to chat with George to see what’s going on and why he’s pursuing this very hefty goal…
What’s your story and what got you into running?
It’s a very long story but I’ll keep it as short as possible. It begins around 10 years ago, back in 2007. I’ve been overweight for my whole life, but then I lost a lot of weight and became skinny by eating healthily and going at the gym. I wasn’t running back then and slowly throughout that time I lost the motivation to carry on and put the weight back on around 2010.
By the time 2013 swung around, I weighed in at 135kg so I decided to lose the weight again. It was tough, but between April and November that 2013, I lost around 50kg and went down to 85kg. The following year, that went down to 77kg, which is a total of 58kg lost. Going off my previous experience, I really wanted to maintain the weight loss because I know how quickly the weight can come back on.
My ultimate fear was putting the weight back on, so what (or rather who) got me into running, was a friend of mine. She was studying to be a massage therapist and as part of her course, had to volunteer at the Melbourne marathon 2013. She didn’t have car at the time, so I offered to drive her there and when I saw people running, it inspired me to run events. The following month (November) there was a 50km event called the Upstream 50km challenge. That was the very first event I did, which I ran and proudly completed it. The rest you could say is history from then on!
Why the decision to run 15,000km in a year where did the idea come from?
Last year on Strava I ran around 8,000km. At the start of this year, my original plan was to do 10,000km for the year, but then after a week or two, I was way ahead of the radar. So to challenge myself further, I decided to set my goal at 15,000km for the year, which I know is going to be very challenging to complete.
Are you doing it for any cause, or more simply, ‘just because’?
There’s no other reason than just to prove to myself that I can get it done.
Are you currently on track?
Not quite at the moment, but I’m not giving up, I still believe I can make it. 15,000km is 41kms a day and I know that I can make up some of the kms over the coming months.
*At the time of writing George is just over 7,500km with just over five months left. Follow George on Strava here.
How do you go about breaking that down and planning what you run?
If you do two runs a day it’s 20.6km twice a day. However I don’t work it out daily because I work a full-time job during the week, so I do ultras on the weekends to add it up.
What’s your longest run been so far?
On Queens Birthday long weekend, I was on the road for almost 60 hours and ran 321.1km
How do you plan your life around your running?
Just work and not much sleep sadly, but it’s only for this year and I think the sense of achievement I’ll get from doing it will provide so much more to me in terms of life experience.
Are there times when you get bored and question why you’re doing it?
No. Never, I enjoy every minute of it and the more challenging it becomes the more I want to push myself to do it.
What happens when you’re done? This is clearly going to be a massive part of your life and who you are, have you thought about the ‘what next?’
My dream is to run the Spartathlon event in Greece next year. I have already found myself a coach that is going to help me in any way possible to reach that goal and what is required to make it happen.
On a personal level, I’d like to wish all the best to George, I think it’s a phenomenal thing to want to achieve for no other reason than to see if you can do it and mold you into the person you want to be.