When putting a piece together for Makers & Do’ers I usually think in themes; what is the overall resonance of the person that I’m speaking with? The tone, and how should the conversation should be framed? With that in mind, Tim Richards is a lot like the music he produces. Tim is driven, a self described workaholic, at a period of his life where he is facing a change from his past in the music industry, to his future in managing sports events.
Our conversation, like house music, rewarded repeated listens. The more I went over our conversation, the more and more subtext I picked up until it became clear that above all, Tim Richards is a people person, who’s main goal is connection with others. Tim has a methodical approach to his running, setting goals and ticking each one off, endlessly moving forward. Tim spoke to me the week before he attempted his first ultra distance event. The Tarawera 50km. For an immersive Tim Richard’s experience, head over to the playlist that Tim put together before Christmas, and press the play button whilst you read. If you like what you hear and fancy some more, you can find Tim holding it down on George FM on Wednesdays in his long running show, Signature Sounds.
Tim has a methodical approach to his running, setting goals and ticking each one off, endlessly moving forward.
What is your musical background, when did you first become interested in house music?
My musical background started when I was 15. I grew up in the church and at the Youth Group they had raves and I kind of just got stuck in from there. Everything has just grown from there. I’m the type of person who is always looking for the next step, it’s just like with my running. I went from wanting to DJ then taking it further, producing and making music. with my running I went from doing a 5k to a 10k to a half, then thinking “I could never do a full marathon”, now I’ve done a number of those.
Are you a classically trained musician, if so what was your primary instrument?
No. my background is as an audio engineer, so my strength has always been in making things sound good. I worked in TV for five years, so that’s my professional background. I always struggle with the musical side of things but I’ve been lucky enough to have people around me to help me realise my ideas. If I have a simple idea I can structure a song around that. My music is usually musically simple but sonically, a great sounding recording makes simple ideas sound really good and for me, that’s what really works in a nightclub, things don’t need to be too complex, it’s all about a groove.
In regards to your background in music, have you always been involved in the NZ Dance music scene or have you played music of different genres?
No, I’ve always been involved in dance music. I guess a reason for that has been my lack of musical ability, I’ve always needed a computer to do what I’ve needed to do.
Do you remember an epochal moment when you went “Yes” music is something that I want to do for the rest of my life?
I probably had one of those moments when I was younger, but I have those moments all the time that remind me of why I do what I do. I guess I didn’t have a lightbulb moment, but it’s a constant thing, that those moments keep happening, it’s like “this is why I have antisocial saturday nights for years, a studio tan and hours spent at Real Groovy looking for records”.
I started running purely for stress relief, I would just go out to the trails and disappear for an hour or so and get away from my computer and my phone and everything.
Like so many people involved in creative pursuits in NZ, we are faced with with the rub that even though our craft demands a lot of our time/effort/thought, financially, we are required to have day jobs. What is your current occupation? Or are you doing music full time?
I’m currently working in events, I’m in the middle of a career change. I used to be involved in the music industry and now I’m moving to the sports industry. I have a contract currently with NZ Triathlon, Weetbix Kiwi Kids Tryathlon, Lagardere and Get Running, who is Gaz Brown (and Kiri Price, who has also been featured on GPR). Gaz is my coach and through my interaction with him we are working through some things for the future.
How long have you been a runner,. what is your history with running ?
I noticed the other day that I did my second marathon about two years ago, so I’ve been doing marathons for about two years. Running before that about a year, year and a half, so all up about three years.
Are trails new for you?
No. I started running purely for stress relief, I would just go out to the trails and disappear for an hour or so and get away from my computer and my phone and everything. It kind of went from there.
What was the first trail you ran?
Cascades trail, In the Waitakere ranges.
What’s your main motivation for running? What facet of running do you enjoy most?
I am a much happier person if I am moving towards a goal, so currently my goal is for next weekend (reference the Tarawera 50km). After that I will say I won’t have any goals, and then three weeks later I’ll have something else. Obviously, health, fitness are big. The more I get into the running community the more I enjoy meeting and running with people, that’s becoming a big part of it as well.
So we stuck together, I paced him and he bet his PB by a minute or something. Doing that for me was really, really cool.
What stands out as the best experiences for you and why?
It’s hard, I enjoy the personal goals and all that, but when I did Taupo, I was a couple of weeks off the back of an injury and I had set out to do a conservative time as I had just been injured. On the second half of the course, this guy started tailing me, I was like “what are you up to, mate?” and this guy says “well, you’re setting a good pace”, so after a bit of banter back and forth we worked out that the time I was aiming for would be a PB for him. So we stuck together, I paced him and he bet his PB by a minute or something. Doing that for me was really, really cool.
Outside of personal goals I really enjoy the engagement with others. Having been in that position myself I know how thankful I was. that’s why I find myself being drawn more to the industry, the people and the experiences are great.
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?
I’m structured. I follow a program with Get Running. That’s a great situation as it’s a clinic and they have a roster of what is going on each day and you can do as little or as much as you want. Leading up to Tarawera I’ve been doing 5 runs a week, one strength workout, one yoga class and some recovery stuff. It’s a good balance between specific and nonspecific training and a great bunch of people.
I don’t want this to sound cheesy, but If I have the right people, a favourite run can be anywhere.
Where are your favourite places to run and why?
I don’t want this to sound cheesy, but If I have the right people, a favourite run can be anywhere. Cascades is a favourite of mine. Lake Wanaka, where I spent a lot of my childhood is a favourite place to run. Queenstown, around Lake Hawea. Having said that, there is nothing better than finding a new trail.
What is your favourite place to play music, and why?
I’ve had lots of great nights down at Ink Bar. But it comes back to the right people. It’s the people that make it. If the right people are there, anything can work. I’ve walked into some amazing clubs and it hasn’t worked, and then I’ve walked into some places and gone “woah, this is going to be weird’ but the people have been “right” and it’s been amazing. I’m very much a people type of person.
How is running important to you and your life and it’s direction?
I think again for me it comes down to goals. This year in february I was made redundant. I went through a career change and some weeks I would have no work on. I could have easily stayed in bed every day until ten and no one would have been the wiser but running a motivation to get me out of bed, get me moving. In the last year that’s been really important for me to keep me sane and motivated.
Music or no music when running? If so what do you enjoy listening to?
I’m a bit of both. With people, no music. By myself, music. I go with DJ mixes because they are seamless and a good DJ set can take you on a bit of a journey which I think can help with running. I’m always listening to music and mixes to find songs for when I’m DJing and for my own enjoyment. If I like a mix I’ll download it and run with it. People ask me what my favourite mix is but that changes daily.
How many races have you completed?
I have completed five marathons, a bunch of half marathons and am looking to complete my first ultra marathon this week.
What advice can you give to people who want to follow their dreams and to do what they love?
It does take a certain amount of stubbornness. If enjoy or love what you want to do as much as you think you do then it will happen. If you really want something, the hard work doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the process.
Whilst electronic music seems to be a ubiquitous soundtrack to physical activity. Being locked in a studio, or doing sets at 0300 may not perhaps gel with a healthy lifestyle. How do you manage this? also, what do your DJ friends think of the fact that you run?
In the last year that’s been really important for me to keep me sane and motivated.
I guess I’m just one of those people that if it needs to be done. Last weekend was a perfect example. Friday I worked at the Auckland marathon expo until 1700, then I DJ’ed from six until twelve. I was up on Saturday running at six thirty then flew to wellington at four in the afternoon. DJ’ed until 0300 on Sunday, flew out at eight. Got home, got on my bike and went down to support my friends running the Marathon. I was super tired, but it’s the thing I guess, if I think it needs to be done, it gets done.
As for my DJ friends and running? I dunno, most of them are into physical fitness, it’s a progression thing, all my buddies are getting older, and as you get older physical fitness gets more important. Having other interests, and not “living and breathing’ music makes me enjoy music more. I don’t know if being fitter helps my creativity, I guess I’m prone to taking more naps in the studio as I’m tired from running!
You are a self described “Workaholic”, which whilst rewarding, can be a challenging way to live (in terms of burnout, over prescription, exhaustion)Do you ascribe to any strategies to achieving balance in your life?
I have a good group of friends and one in particular we catch up weekly, and are on each other’s case about stuff, which is good for balance. The community of runners is also good for balance, they give feedback if they think that you are overcooking it. I realised that if I want to do both things, music and running then I would need to “self balance” somewhat. My biggest problem is not stopping, I’m always doing something. I haven’t really mastered that art yet.
Where to from here? where do you see yourself in 5 years from now ?
I have a plan in my head, it’s part of the career change and it’s slowly coming together. Ideally in five years time I would like to be working as an event director for a sporting or music event, it’s leaning more towards sports. In a perfect world, a marathon. Still making music, still DJing a couple times a month and still running. So, yeah, Kind of what I’m doing now, however with a little bit more emphasis on the event direction side of things.
I met up with Tim two weeks after his first ultramarathon, the 2015 Tarawera 50km on November 14th, to unpick his experience and see what he made of tackling his first ultra.
Are you all recovered from the 50 ?
I think so. I’ve been for a few good runs. I ran 20km with friends last weekend and it felt good. Due to work I’m not running as much as I would like, however that’s probably good for the recovery. I wouldn’t say I’m completely recovered but I’m definitely getting there.
How was it?
It was awesome. Really great event. I really enjoyed it. I had one dark moment at about the 20km mark and I smacked my thigh on a lock on a gate I was going around. That moment got pretty dark as I had a throbbing, sore thigh for a while and the thoughts start going, however it got better. Between 30 and 45 km I felt really good, surprisingly so, then I hit those last two hills and, yeah, it really changed. I didn’t get the time I wanted, I was twenty minutes off the time I wanted, but I’m happy in the fact that I know I couldn’t have pushed it any harder than I did.
I had one dark moment at about the 20km mark and I smacked my thigh on a lock on a gate I was going around.
Those challenges to your integrity, not just being tired, but something going wrong, like when you hit your leg, can really shake things up.
Yeah, as a runner, smacking the middle of your thigh into a gate lock is the last thing you want. I was feeling pretty dark after that, but I had a playlist that I really liked and it coincided when I came over a ridge and saw Lake Tarawera. It really kicked me out of it, I was like “cool, I’m ready to go again”, it was fine after that for another 22km.
What was your approach to the lead up to the event? did you go down to Rotorua early and hang out or did you turn up the night before, get your bib and get ready to go?
I was really lucky to have a good friend down there with me, crewing for me, which made a big difference. We went down the night before after work, got my stuff and had a relaxed dinner. Everything was well planned out. Early night, everything all packed before hand. Got up ready to go. I was up 2 hours before we started and had my bircher muesli. The start was at Te Puia, I missed the Mihi and the Haka as I was right at the back.
Did you have a game plan worked out, pacing wise? If so, where you able to stick to it or did it go out the window?
I was always going to just trust how I felt. I was always going to walk the hills, to save my calves, so I didn’t blow up too early. I was able to stick to that right from the start and that worked really well. I was ahead of my splits the whole way until the final 8km. If the last 8km had been flat I think I would have come in around 5 and a half hours. But they got me. They got everyone. If I was to do it again, the challenge would be to get to that point with the energy to push up those hills. I wouldn’t go out faster, I would want to have more in the tank for those hills.
Is this a race you would do again?
Traditionally I have only done races once, it’s like a “ticked that box, move on to something else” thing, but if I found some friends who wanted to do it and we went down as a crew then, yeah! But I think ultimately I have other goals race wise. I want to get flat road marathon PB next year, like the Christchurch Marathon. I’d like to do a road marathon and an off road event a year.
What have you taken away from this experience?
That I can do it. I can do fifty km. I can get to 42 km a feel good. Prior to this, I would get to 42km and feel horrible. but yeah, it’s a different paradigm.
Do you have any plans to do a larger distance?
I never said that I would do a marathon. so I dunno. I think I could mentally do a 60 km at this point, but yeah, I dunno. I don’t think I could fathom, or have time to train for a larger distance.
If you like the trails in this feature then you are in luck. You can run the Hillary Trail with our friends over at the Hillary Trail Run Event. Also we want to thank Ethan for his help (and photos) out on this shoot.