A relative newcomer to international trail running, Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn has represented Great Britain at the last two World Trail Championships – placing 23rd in 2017 and improving by two places in 2018 – and she’s just been picked for her third. Here she describes when she first realised she could reach the top as a trail runner, the regular training routes she loves to run, and the major events still on her bucket list.
When did the penny drop that you could reach international level?
In 2016 I did a few races with some of the GB team and I wasn’t far off some of them, so I thought I’d give it a go. When I went to the qualifying race for the 2017 Trail World Championships I just went along to see how I’d fare. I tried not to put any expectation on myself because I just love running and I like to run as fast as I can for myself.
Is all of your running on the trails?
I very rarely run on the roads. At the weekends it will always be long runs in in the hills, and in the week I do short fast runs or hill reps on my local trails around Leeds. The winter for me is about keeping it ticking over, then once I get into the spring trying to make it much more race-specific.
What type of trails do you enjoy?
I much prefer the technical terrain – rocks, scree and super-rough ground. I find miles of undulating big path really hard!
Where are your favourite trails?
Definitely the Lake District’s northern fells. You can run for hours and hours and not see another human! It's also really varied terrain as there is ridge running, big paths, grassy fell and lots of scree, so there’s lots to suit everyone.
Where in the world would you really like to run?
I’m maybe a bit of a home girl but I do think that the Lake District has the best hills in the world – I just don’t think you can beat the fells. I’d like to spend some time in New Zealand and more time in the Scandinavian countries too.
How about bucket-list races?
I’m really enjoying the Skyraces that I’ve done over the last couple of years, including Tromso Skyrace in Norway and the Kima and Monte Rose Skyraces in Italy. I’ve recently been doing some shorter fell races that I’ve been really enjoying too. There isn’t a big ‘bucket list’ race I’d like to do, I tend to just take it year by year.
Do you have favourite trail shoes?
My favourite shoes are Salomon Soft Grounds because especially in the Lakes, one minute you can be on quite a hard-packed path and another you might be on open fell. They’ve got a good grip but are still super-comfy for the longer races. I often run 80km in them and I think it’s quite hard to get a shoe where you can run those distances and have grip for the fells.