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Richard Donovan

The ultramarathon runner, ambassador for new performance brand UVU, tells Marie Davies about his record-breaking exploits.

First of all, congratulations on setting two world firsts in the past year (running 100 miles in Antarctica in a day, and running seven marathons on all seven continents in four days). How does that feel?

It feels good to be fit and to be able to embark on interesting challenges. The 100 miles was run in -25C through snow on mainland Antarctica and was a pure endurance effort. However, the seven marathons on seven continents was as much a logistical challenge and exercise in sleep deprivation as a physical challenge. I was lucky flights left in a timely manner.

How important is what you wear in helping to achieve those records?

When it comes to running in extreme environments or running extreme lengths, clothing is a critical element. In cold weather climates, for example, running in the correct type of layers of clothing is essential to maintain core body temperature. Not many people realise that the irony of running in extreme cold is that sometimes you can become too hot because of the layers that must be worn.

What interested you about being an ambassador for UVU?

UVU’s approach was the first time a manufacturer asked for my advice on what might work best in polar climates. I realised UVU was a company that wanted to get things right. The name of the company – UVU – also signified an understanding that ultramarathon running involves a battle between an athlete’s mental and physical sides, ie you versus you, with the mental side having to prevail when the physical side wants you to stop.

What’s the single most important design feature on UVU’s Race Jacket?

When running in the jacket, comfort and ease of access are perhaps the most important design features. The jacket of course performs its primary function superbly as a windshell, but it also allows easy access to inner layers without having to take it off. Mittens can be stored in an external back pocket and the sleeve doesn’t have to be pulled up to view a stopwatch.

The brand describes you as its ‘intelligence’. How does that work day to day?

Intelligence means I’m always garnering new information on a daily basis, whether it’s from fellow athletes or from my own continuing experiences as a runner.

The UVU motto is ‘extreme endeavour needs extreme craftsmanship’. What are the three most important elements to your running kit? Comfort, functionality and look.

Have you set a date for your next challenge?

I hope to run a 48-hour race in France in June which involves running as far as you can on a measured course over two days. The person with the most distance accumulated wins the race. My ultimate challenge would be to run across Antarctica. This could happen in November. 

  • Richard Donovan is an ultramarathon runner and brand ambassador for performance sportswear brand UVU

Quickfire questions

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Ricky Gervais could play all parts: child, teenager and adult.

Where were your first pair of running shoes from?


Richard Donovan

Richard Donovan

What do you do when you’re not running?

Answer emails and watch sports.

What was the first thing you did after your 100-mile run?

Had a drink and laid down, but I’m not sure in which order!

If you weren’t an adventure runner, what would you be doing?

I’d probably be lecturing in economics.

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