Mum of five discovers ultra-running talent

Hardmoors Saltburn Marathon winner Julia Robinson took up running as she needed a fresh challenge when her fifth child was born

Julia Robinson

by Paul Halford |

Running a 60-mile ultra can never be termed “easy” but, when you’re a tired mum of five children, it qualifies as “a nice day out”, according to Julia Robinson.

Until recently, Julia’s running amounted to no more than four or five miles a few times a week and she had never entered a race. However, needing a new focus in life after the birth of her fifth child, she took up long-distance trail running and amazed herself by winning her first three races.

“My husband, Tim, had always done these ultra races and I’d gone to support him now and then, but I never thought it was something I would do or could even do,” Julia tells us. “It was only because I’d had my fifth baby (in 2019) and Tim just decided that I needed something a bit more, so he entered me into a half marathon – and that was it.”

That was the Hardmoors Farndale Half-marathon last July, in which Julia was first woman by more than seven minutes. She had increased her training a little, but only to around 13km at the weekends and two or three shorter runs in the week due to family commitments.

The 37-year-old admitted: “I really didn’t have much understanding of what I was doing. I was going more by how I felt. I had started listening to lots of podcasts and doing reading.” She may have felt under-qualified but it was working. Her next win was the Hardmoors Saltburn Marathon in September.

She had found her calling, it seems. “I really love it,” she says. “I like the feeling of freedom. We live in the North Yorkshire Moors and I can run five minutes from the house and be completely on my own and have all these amazing views.

“I like the fact that I can take myself on this journey and go and explore my area, have all these amazing views – sunset, sunrise – and feel like I’ve got the whole area to myself.”

Also in September Julie added the Hardmoors 60-mile ultra, finishing sixth overall and the first woman and, after more than 13 hours of running, needed to breast-feed straight away.

Being a busy mum perhaps makes the trials of an ultra a little easier to cope with, she explains: “Having five kids you’re tired all day anyway; you’re always on your feet so, when I did the 60, I’m not going to say I found it easy, because it wasn’t at all, but I only had myself to concentrate on so it was kind of a really nice day out for me.”

With women under-represented in trail running, Julia’s story ought to be an inspiration for other females, particularly mothers, to chase their ambitions.

She says: “I never thought it was something I would do, even though I’ve always ran. Ultra marathons in particular, the time away from home, you have to be determined and you have to say that you’re going to be selfish, you’re going to spend a few hours out of your day to go for a run for yourself.

“It’s easy to say after I’ve done one, but I feel it’s something that so many people could achieve if they believed in themselves. The belief that you really can do it, whatever speed. I do believe ultras could be more inclusive if people had more self-belief that they could do that distance.”

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us