The first time I became aware of Grant Guise was as the proprietor at Backcountry Runner. A website focussed on mountain ultra running, trails, and getting up some of the South Island’s imposing peaks. we swapped some emails, I bought a pack and some bottled off him and informed him of my desire to complete an ultra marathon. I was thrilled when Grant asked me to contribute a race report from my first experience of running an ultra.
I thought I’d be all smart and left-of-field, telling people to sell their running shoes and start punk bands. My coup de grace was to finish the report with full set video of Refused playing their reunion show at Coachella. I submitted my report with a dose of “the die is cast” resignation; In short order Grant emailed me back excitedly telling me how much he loved punk rock and thanking me for the (sadly removed) Youtube link! BOOM! Commonality established. People who enjoy running long distances are not so common amongst the general population. Those who do so whilst listening to Punk Rock and Hardcore are even less of a sight. Yeah, Grant’s cool..
Oh, Did I mention that dude can run? Yeah. Grant is somewhat laconic when discussing and documenting his successes, but let’s reel off a few, and I mean that. I’ve had to seriously cull this list…
2nd, 2016 Northburn 100 miler 23 hours 33 seconds.
Skyrunning Aust/NZ Series winner- 2015
2nd, 2015/16 Ultra Easy 100km
286th, 2015 UTMB
2nd, 2014/15 Routeburn Classic– Both sub 2hr50
4th 2014, Buffalo Stampede
1st,2014 Big Easy Marathon w/Course Record
1st,2014 Motatpu Ultra w/Matt Bixley
16th, 2013 UTMF
1st,2013 Canadian Death Race
The list goes on….Grant was generous enough to speak with me via a number of emails and answer my questions. I’ve had so much fun putting this one together, compelled as I am to re-visit most of the albums that Grant listed whilst typing. Anyway, Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Where do you call home?
Currently Dunedin is home. We just moved here at the start of the year, as my wife has gone back to University. We still have our place in Wanaka and the goal is to get back there once Jane is done with study (but my not-so-secret goal is to move back to Castle Hill Village!).
What is your current occupation?
Just working for myself again, after a year for working for the man. I am the importer for Altra, UltrAspire and Julbo in New Zealand- so my work very much revolves around running!
How long have you been a runner?
A while now I guess. I did track and cross country all my teenage years- 400, 800 and 1500m. Jumped in to a few steeple races right before I stopped running track, which was a while ago. I gave it a rest for a few years. Jane and I got a house in Castle Hill and had our first summer in 5 years- I couldn’t afford a bike, so I started running again as my way to explore.
What’s your main motivation for running? What are you seeking?
As a kid it was pretty much the only thing I was relatively good at. Winning feels good, it doesn’t happen much anymore, but as an awkward teenager, when it did, it was a good feeling and gave me a lot of confidence. I was well into ski mountaineering races in my mid/late 20’s, and the best ski mountaineering racers in the world all did skyrunning and ultra races in the summer, so during my first summer in years I just wanted to copy those guys. I got beaten pretty good and my competitive streak kicked in and I just wanted that winning feeling again to be honest.
But that was a while ago and my motivation has changed a lot since then. It is more about seeing new places, with old or new friends and testing myself. Being outside and seeing sweet sunrises, all that generic stuff…
Could you give us a small insight into your usual running or training routine? Are you a structured programme type of person, or do you run more by feel?
Now days, totally structured! I was pretty structured doing track in my teens and when I got back into running in my late 20’s I really wanted as a little to do with that side of running = no roads, no running in circles and no structure. After a few very average races, during my days with the Salomon Team, I decided I had to get a bit more serious. Greg, the Salomon manager, put me in touch with Christophe Malarde and this will be the 5th year Chris has been coaching me. He coaches guys like Francois D’haene and Sébastien Chaigneau. He is great.
I don’t “need” a coach, but having that structure is really good. It makes fitting my training in around family life much easier when I know what I am doing for the week and having that accountability is really good. It is much harder to bitch out of a hard workout when you have someone to answer to.
Normally I have Mondays off, 2 speed/tempo type sessions a week and some long runs- it is pretty standard as far as that goes. I am lower milage wise- around 100km a week, but I try to get as much vertical as possible.
Where are your favourite places to run and why?
I love running somewhere new, so I guess the place I have not ran yet?Ben Lomond, above Queenstown is hard to beat, and Arthur’s Pass is pretty epic. But, there can be only one, and that is Castle Hill/Craigieburn. That place can take the pepsi challenge with anyplace, anytime.
What facet of running do you enjoy most?. What stands out as the best experiences for you and why?
Going to events is great- it is like a big party with all your friends. I do most my running by myself, so a race is often the only time I get to see a lot of friends. I really like running at night, ideally in the mountains, with a full moon and a sweet sunrise. Those runs are always hard to beat. I have not done many, but I do really enjoy 100 mile races. They are so long and emotional. The lows and highs are so extreme in those races, at least for me they are.
How is running important to you and your life and it’s direction?
It is pretty key, I have been doing it for so long and many of my friendships are founded on running. It also plays a big role in my work. It is something I really enjoy, so I have tried to make it part of what I do everyday, in both work and personal life.
Music or no music when running? If so what do you enjoy listening to?
Mostly no, but long training runs, big blocks of training or big races I normally have it at some point.
On that, 5 favourite punk rock albums…126.96.36.199!!!!!!
Ahhh, only 5?? In no order-
Nofx– anything from those guys! (Matt’s note. I’m listening to 1997’s “So Long And Thanks For All The Shoes” as I edit this interview…It’s a good ‘un)
Dead Kennedys– Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
Dropkick Murhpys– Sing Loud, Sing Proud
Rancid– any of their albums (Matt’s note. Sorry, last one. The band’s seminal record “And Out Come The Wolves” is a great place to start!!)
What advice can you give to people who want to follow their dreams and to do what they love?
Well, sticking on the punk theme, I would say go listen to the Sick Of It All song, “I Believe”. If you are not into hardcore/punk, then maybe just look up the lyrics. Those guys sum it up pretty well.
You have entered Hardrock. How do you conceptualise a race that storied and difficult? What are you doing to prepare for it?
I have been trying to get into Hardrock for about 4-5 years. I am really happy I did not get in earlier, as I don’t think I would have been ready for it and I am not even sure I will be this year, but I am extremely excited to be going. I used the Northburn 100 in March as a major stepping stone, and thankful went really well. That was my 3rd 100 mile race, but the first one that I feel relatively good for.
Chris and I made a plan (or I should say Chris made the plan and I am doing what I am told) to have a 3 month build up for Northburn, recover and another 3 month build up for Hardrock in July. With Northburn going well, we will likely stick to the same formula. This included a 200km/11,000mD+ week and a bunch of “runs”, where I walked everything but the downs. There is so much walking you need to train for it! This year we do the course clockwise, with the steep ups and access roads down. Being in Dunedin now is going to make it tough to get the 1000m climbs, but I can make it work. The altitude will be the biggest factor- the start is at 2800m above sea level! I am going out about 3 weeks before, so hopefully I will be OK. I think after the altitude, it is getting your legs in shape so they are unbreakable. We have some pretty good sessions to do this.
Where to from here? where do you see yourself in 5 years from now ?
Jane is hoping to get into med school, so a lot depends on how that all plays out. I think we will still be in Dunedin, but getting closer to being back in Wanaka.
I will still be running and involved in the ”industry”, I am sure of that. But to what extent, who knows? There are so many amazing events and places to visit and running is kind of just an excuse to go to these places.