X ProtoLab Rainmac

Read now

SOAR: Essentials for the Active Lifestyle

Read Now

The Miler 003

Welcome to The Miler's latest edition, where we dive into the standout stories of the SOAR Miler community.

Explore an exclusive interview with ultra-runner and Black Trail Runners trustee Simbarashe Mugomba and Kyle Blackketter's arduous 100km gravel adventure. Head of SOAR Women’s, Rebecca, sheds light on a lesser-known women's milestone.

Plus, get ready for the SOAR Milers '24 launch with a roundup of the community's impressive PBs from the past year.

SOAR Miler Stories: The Heartland 100

We caught up with SOAR Miler Kyle Blackketter for a recap of the Heartland 100—an epic out-and-back journey on Kansas gravel roads.

The 5 Minute Mile

It started with an innocent comment and an article shared in one of my WhatsApp groups.

DS - ‘I didn't know a woman broke 5 minutes around the same time the 4-minute mile was broken.’ 

LL - ‘Wow it’s actually mad how celebrated the men’s was. And personally, how I’ve never even thought about the women’s record development.’ Let alone ever heard of Diane Leather!

LT - ‘Yeah, it’s a good point I want more fuss about this. When we are women who are probably more engaged in the sport than most and we still haven’t heard of her.’

I agreed with LT, that more fuss should be made about women’s running breakthroughs. Physiological, historical, and social factors all contribute to differences in running performance between the sexes, so let’s take some time to talk about the mile. 4 or 5 minutes is a smart, round number whilst a mile is a neat, historical measurement of a distance that most of us ‘get’. A mile race is over in minutes, but it can feel screamingly long, an eternity even if you’re the one who’s running it hard. 

Though it took place in 1954, the impact of Roger Bannister’s sub-4-minute mile on the public’s imagination cannot be understated. The time is a mark of a seriously good male athlete to this day. Iffley Road track, where the barrier was broken, is still subject to runner pilgrimages. Blue plaques, films, halls of fame and statues celebrate the achievement. But while the men were locked in a 4-minute arms race, what were the women up to?

Born in 1933 in Streetly, Staffordshire, Diane Leather was an active child playing lacrosse, netball, and hockey at school. Inspired by the women in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, she was moved to join a local athletics club, Birchfield Harriers. Her talent and potential were immediately spotted by coach Dorette Nelson Neal who set about training and encouraging her to race the mile. Diane’s running progressed beautifully and in 1953 she was part of a British relay team which set a world record for the 880 yards (half a mile) relay.

To give some context, in those days long-distance running was considered dangerous to a woman’s health and even fertility, 70 years ago, women’s races were officially capped at just 200m in the Olympic Games. This remained the case until 1960 when the 800m was added, the 1500m appearing later in 1972. But despite the lack of official recognition, the battle for a woman to break 5 minutes was fierce and it became Diane’s holy grail. Many attempts had been made, and the time was being chipped away by Anne Oliver of Britain, Edith Treybal, from Romania and Diane Leather.

Finally, on May 26th, 1954, Diane ran 5:00.2. So close now that she could smell it, she tried again 3 days later. At Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, alone at the front and without a pacemaker, she broke the tape at 4:59.6 on 29th May 1954, just 23 days after Roger Bannister’s historic sub-4. Recognised as the world’s best rather than the world record, Diane went on to reduce her mile time to 4:45.0 at the White City Stadium on 21 September 1955, the world’s best time for over seven years.

Athletics was popular in the 50’s and Diane’s achievement was celebrated in the newspapers at the time. No film exists of her sub-5, but there is a Pathe News film of her tantalising 5:00.2 you can watch here.

Sadly, Diane Leather is not a well-known name now, but she was finally inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013. She died in 2018 in Truro aged 85 after a long career as a social worker and as a mother to a family of 4. Nowadays the fastest women’s mile time stands at 4:07.64 by Faith Kipyegon of Kenya during a Diamond League meeting at Stade Louis II, Monaco, on 21 July 2023. 7 seconds feels like a lot to shave off from a mile time to me and could take some time for us to see.

A quick hunt through the internet makes me consider Gudaf Tsegay’s current 5000m world record of 14:00.21. That dangles a tantalising sub-14-minute carrot that will surely be bested soon. I hope that when it happens, we all make a huge fuss about it. Women’s achievements deserve to be recognised on their terms and as inspirations to others who may be motivated to try.

Words: Rebecca Taylor

SOAR X Simbarashe

SOAR: Let’s kick off by asking about your experience in trail and mountain running and how it has shaped your perspective on representation & inclusivity in the sport.


Simbarashe Mugomba: Yeah, when I first started trail running, growing up in the countryside, I often found myself being the only black person which was all I knew, but over time, especially after the Ahmaud Arbery case, I began questioning and reflecting on my experiences. It made me realise that running, even a simple 20-minute jog, could be a serious matter. As a kid, I may not have fully understood the implications, but as an adult, looking back, it became clear why certain things happened.

After that realization, I started seeking more community and looking for black runners. I had been running since 2017-2018 and coincidentally came across Black Trail Runners on Instagram. Their post about diversity in trail running resonated with me, and I became increasingly involved with the group over the next six months. Eventually, I joined the organizing committee and became a trustee when the group became a charity.

SM: In response to your question, trail running does have a diversity issue, especially when you look at races in Europe and the United States. Black and brown individuals are often in the minority, even in locations where diversity is generally present. For example, in Geneva, where you might see diversity in the city, it changes when you head up to Chamonix. The lack of diversity becomes noticeable when you examine the numbers.

SOAR: Considering your involvement with Black Trail Runners, what initiatives would you like to see in the broader running community to foster more representation and inclusivity?


SM: Our team at Black Trail Runners focuses on three foundational pillars: skills, access, and representation. These pillars guide our activities and help structure our approach. When it comes to skills, there's a need to address the barrier to entry in trail running. It can be intimidating for novices, and factors like mandatory kit lists, navigation and the variety of surfaces can be overwhelming. Especially in urbanized areas, where many black individuals live, there might be a lack of exposure to the necessary navigation and outdoor skills.


To address this, I suggest starting small, perhaps with a Parkrun on an off-road course, and reaching out to communities like Black Trail Runners for guidance. It's essential to create a supportive environment and make these activities more accessible. Many people may not be aware of the intricacies involved, such as choosing the right gear or understanding different terrains. I think initiatives should focus on providing information and support to break down these barriers.

SOAR: Could you share a memorable race experience and why it was significant for you?


SM: One memorable race for me was the Ultra Trail Snowdonia last year. Despite initially aiming for a good finish time, I had contracted COVID earlier. in the year and was still dealing with the impacts of long COVID. The race turned out to be a challenging experience, especially during the descent from Snowdon. I chatted with a couple of guys who were considering dropping out and convinced them to keep going, it was probably more of a conversation with myself on reflection.


It was a scorching hot day, and water supplies were low. I had sweated out most of the water I carried and reaching the top of Snowdon for the second time felt like a significant accomplishment. The race became a test of mental resilience, confirming that sometimes it's not about the result but about gritting your teeth and getting it done. What made it even more special was waiting for my wife at the checkpoint and finishing the race together. There was a massive dropout rate that day due to the conditions and being able to turn what could have been a terrible day out into a quite good one was very rewarding.

SOAR: Looking ahead to this year, what are your running plans, including races and goals? Additionally, what initiatives or events do Black Trail Runners have in store?


SM: I have the Seville Marathon in a few weeks, aiming for a sub-3 finish. I plan to return to Ultra Trail Snowdonia for another attempt at the 50km race, and I've got a spot on the ballot for UTMB (100 miles around Mont Blanc), I now have 8 months to prepare myself for the toughest race of my life.


For Black Trail Runners, we recently had our trustee planning a strategy meeting where we set out our key objectives for the year. Our major event this year will be the second edition of the Black to the Trails, our trail race created by black trail runners for black trail runners. Following the success of the inaugural event (it won the Strava Event of the year 2023), we aim to make it even bigger and better. The wider goal is to continue amplifying our presence, with more events and runs all over the UK led by our UKA Qualified Run Leaders. We are also working on a variety of other initiatives, like our involvement in events like the Adidas Terrex Race
Infinite Trails race in September 2023, where we create films spotlighting black runners and telling their stories.


You can keep up with Simba and the Black Trail Runners on Instagram: @simbarashe, @blacktrailrunners


In 2023, the SOAR Miler community raced well. Here's a roundup of the personal bests achieved. We eagerly anticipate the surpassing these milestones in the years to come.

Jamie Norton 38:01 at Victoria Park 10K

Luke Rowland 74:14 at Santa Pola Half

John Corpuz 4:32:15 at Venice Marathon

 Jill Smith 4:38:54 at Los Angeles Marathon

Mark Gallacher 59:02 at Tom Scott Road Races 10 Miler

Michael Crozier 2:59:08 at Manchester Marathon

Mason Baxter 2:47:48 at Boston Marathon

Sanjay Chamund 2:49:59 at London Marathon

Alexander Aranda 1:37:52 at Hackney Half

Elliot Wing 1:23:20 at Hackney Half

Andy Li 1:45:42 at Hackney Half

Paul Davie 19:04 at Battersea 5K

Kenton Hirowatari 17:18 at Pacific Distance 10K Champs

Chris Choi 1:28:14 at Toronto Half

Jun Shan 22:29 at Garlic Festival 5K

Christopher Lachowyn 2:39:17 at Columbus Cap City Half

Adam Cox 3:40:07 at New Forest Trail Marathon

Shaun Knight 16:26 at Cheshire 5K

Lloyd Dickson 16:16 and FNUL Battersea 5K

Aurelien Grosso 1:22:18 at CPH Half

Daniel Worthey 3:04:58 at Berlin Marathon

Graeme Downie 3:15:22 Manchester Marathon

Stephen Richardson 3:08:33 Amsterdam Marathon

Alaistair Love 3:07:35 at CPH Marathon

Michaal De Guzman 3:20:01 at Edinburgh

Vernon Morais 3:27:49 at Chicago Marathon

Jan Schellbach 2:57:42 at Valencia Marathon

Michael Mcdonagh, 17:40.4 over 5000m at Tracksmith London Twilight 5000m

Singgih Arioseno 1:37:46 at Great Scottish Run

Sam Buddery at 03:00:01 Amsterdam

Richard Vahlhaus, 2:58:04, at Hanover Marathon

Thomas Beales, 18:51 Essex Remembrance 5K

Ben Goddard 7:10:08 at the SDW 50K

John Brookes 40:55 at the Fradley 10K

Nicolas Vermande, 42:12 at Battersea 10K

Thomas Redhead   1:41:59 at the Wigan Half

Zhe Li 1:29:59 at Wuxi Half

Ruben Chava 1:37:34 at Tarahumara Half

Carl Nolan 1:52:13 at Reading Half

Andrew Irving 3:18:54 at London Marathon

Tim Jenns 15:47 FNUL Battersea 5K

Norman Shreeve 14:13 at Armagh 5K

Joshua Breen PB 2:55:50 at LM

Joe Chou 3:11:09 at Soul Marathon

Liam Beaumont 1:30:06 Cambridge Half

Joe O’Malley 1:37:57 at Guernsey Half

David Sutherland 73:84 at SAL 400m

Alekzander Augustin 3:005:33 at Toronto Marathon

Sam Bentham 2:54:55 at Amsterdam Marathon

Jason Tse 3:40:26 at Chicago Marathon

Even Bratsberg 2:50:59 at Chicago Marathon

Dmitriy Kamara 2:52:46 at Berlin Marathon

Tom Mackay 2:26:34 at Berlin Marathon

Nick Green 33:12 at Vitality 10K

Frank Spensley at 1:17 at Cannes Half

Tom Higham 3:31:09 at London Marathon

Mark Maffe 2:59:03 at Chicago Marathon

The Miler 002

Exclusively for the SOAR Milers, The Miler 002, running stories through the SOAR lens.

Discover one of Tim's cutting-edge prototypes and a glimpse of a new product in the works. SOAR’s Highgate Harriers contingent reveals a hidden 209-mile road relay in the Welsh valleys. U23 European 10,000m champ Alice Goodall shares thrills from the Night of the 10,000m PB's, and SOAR Race Team's James Turner conquers two key races in style taking down a course record on the way.

In Test w/Tim

The Welsh Castles Relay

The two-day, 20 Stage, 209-mile road relay race you’ve never heard of.

When in early June SOAR staff members Lewis and Rob said they were off to do a race in Wales at the weekend no one batted an eyelid. When they left work on Friday evening laden with tents, sleeping bags and a food shop to feed an army, attention at SOAR HQ was piqued. 


Organised by Cardiff’s Les Croupiers Running Club, The Welsh Castles Relay 2023 saw 66 clubs from across the UK embark upon 20 road stages from Caernarfon in the north to Cardiff in the south, across a scorching June weekend. 

10 legs on Saturday took in the epic yet gruelling Snowdonia National Park. 10 legs on Sunday beginning at the crack of dawn in the race’s mid-Wales overnight stop and campsite Newtown. Before traversing the Brecon Beacons and finishing by mid-afternoon in the Welsh capital. 


Though relay racing is not new – and its point-to-point variant is enjoying a renaissance – there’s no event on these shores quite like the WCR. A vast convoy of mini-buses, cars and race infrastructure weaving its way from north Wales to south. All while some of the country’s best runners – Olympians and Pro Ironmen among them – do battle on the asphalt. Think Tour de France Mountain Stage meets country-lane half marathon meets Speed Project. A heady mix of hard and fast road racing, stunning scenery, military-esque logistics and formidable team spirit. 

All teams must be entirely self-supported, no runner may run more than once, and time penalties and leg cut-offs are stringently applied. Fuelling, feeding, cooling and even marshalling are the collective responsibilities of all racers. The runners, officials, drivers, and support staff operate as a virtual self-sufficient entity. Leaving no trace but sweat on the road – and a host of Strava KOMs - behind them. 


The SOAR men were part of the Highgate Harriers team that snagged second place overall, 5 individual stage victories and the race’s ‘Kings of The Mountains’ title. Not bad for a first attempt, and certainly enough to make them want to return for more.

Alice Goodall at the NOT10,000's

Alice shared with us an exciting race report of this year's Night of the 10K PB's. She finished in an impressive time of 32:29:71, foreshadowing her later gold in the women's 10,000m European U23 championships.

May 20th,17:10, I arrive at King’s Cross station after a leisurely start to the day consisting of a late breakfast and a trip to one of my favourite Edinburgh cafes for a mid-morning macchiato. This was far from the usual Saturday routine of an early wake-up followed by a track or grass session with the girls. After a good few double-checks of my rucksack to make sure I had all my race kit, I hopped on the train and left Edinburgh. Next stop, London.

Four and a half hours seemed to fly by, helped by the fact I was able to tune into the first races of the day and get a sense of the atmosphere I was about to be immersed in. One tube and a short walk later and I had arrived at Parliament Hill track. I knew the legacy of Parliament Hill for its brutal cross-country course, and now for hosting some of the fastest 10,000m runners in the world.

Stepping through the gates to the track, the excitement and nerves started to creep in, but I still had a good few hours till the big dance, so I collected my number, put my race kit on, and found a good spot to watch and cheer on the races. We needed to arrive at the call room 20 mins before the start time, but luckily there was plenty of space to do drills and strides, as well as go for a final pre-race toilet trip. I laced up my spikes and headed out onto the track for the final briefing. It was go time.

Like with many track races, it was a hustle and bustle for the first 400m as people sorted themselves out, found their rhythms and formed small groups of fellow similar-paced women to run with. These groups, filled with your competitors, become your allies. They push you to stick to the pace and by working together, this somehow becomes a much easier task. Everything felt easier when in the group.

The laps ticked by, and I slowly began to progress through the group until I was running alone. Had I made I mistake, I thought to myself. I felt good and like I still had more in the tank, so hopefully this decision wasn’t a mistake. The next step was to catch the group ahead if I could. I recognised some of the women in that not-so-distant group, women whose level I aspire to. be at, and now I was going to be running with them!

One kilometre to go, the laps were starting to bite, but I hung on, inspired by the women around me and the crowd growing louder and louder with every lap. I could tell Mizam Alem Adane had just crossed the finish line from the sudden burst of heat from the flames as I ran on with two laps to go, she hadn’t quite lapped me twice!

The final 400m was always going to hurt, I would almost be disappointed if it hadn’t, but the roars from the crowd kept me going and I dug deep to find the energy to kick on down the home straight, dipping just under my target time of 32:30.

I was both ecstatic and exhausted as I lay on the track with the rest of the field, we had all given it our all. Post-race hugs and chats followed, before a cool down around Hampstead Heath and quickly jogging back to catch the last few laps of the men’s race, soaking in the atmosphere all over again. The Night of the 10000m PB’s truly is a festival of running and I can’t wait to return next year to do it all over again.

James Turner: South Downs Way 50

I had two target races during this build-up: the 50K and the Highgate Night of the 10,00m PB’s, just a week apart. Preparing for both simultaneously wasn’t without its challenges. 


To prepare for these races, I did two sessions a week with my training group (AB training group), where we focused on 10K specific work e.g., 8 x 1k or 4 x 8min. Steady-paced trail runs on Thursday and easy Sunday long runs on the Downs filled my schedule. On average, I was logging about 95 miles a week, down from my last road marathon block, where I was at over 100 miles with a peak of 120. This drop in volume allowed me to feel fresher for the sessions. 

A key session in the build-up was a full course recce of the 50k route about 5 weeks was a great confidence boost in tackling the course. I began this block, following on from a road marathon PB in Valencia which was a solid base on which to begin 50K training. I also ran the Moyleman Marathon at the start of the build – a local trail marathon that covers some of the 50k course.


To supplement my running, I did regular cycling sessions on Zwift, and two weekly strength and conditioning workouts, focusing on muscular endurance and heavy lifting. 


As for my racing strategy, I approached it the same way I would a road marathon. I had a target time in mind and knew the splits needed to achieve it. I drew on my experience pacing local trail marathons, accounting for the hills and runnable parts. All the Thursday runs covering various parts of the route filled me with confidence on race day.

During the race, I avoided the temptation to get pulled into racing the competition early, instead focusing on locking into my target pace. I settled into 2nd place maintaining my pace well, until the opportune moment to the lead, which happened around the 20-mile mark. I pressed on and felt strong
right to the finish. 


A key ingredient to the day’s success was the execution of my nutrition plan, ensuring I took on 90g of carbs per hour, facilitated by the storage functionality of the SOAR Trail Shorts. Familiarity with the course was also crucial and played a role in achieving the course record.


Mileage is king, of course, but my biggest takeaway from this block was learning how to be restrained with the length of my long runs. In the
past, I’ve too often pushed the distances which has hampered my recovery and ability to hit a quality session days later. Finding the optimal mix of volume, intensity and recovery is a constant learning process in this sport. Striking the balance of knowing when to push it is key – and something that requires taking a birds-eye view of your training - something I'll be mindful of in future training.


You can keep up with James logging big miles on the South Downs via Strava and follow him on Instagram

The Miler 001

Exclusively for the SOAR Milers, The Miler 001, running stories through the SOAR lens.

You can find a race report from SOAR Race Team athlete George Schweining , as she moves up to 7th on the UK all-time marathon rankings, a deep dive by Tim on his favourite products from this winter, Rob shares a look-back to a seminal UK fell race and Jacob Allen of the Race Team, who's been in great form, talks training with us.

Designer’s Product Focus

Tim Soar, Founder & CEO

The Three Peaks Fell Race, 1976 Style

Head of Marketing,  Rob Wilson

Valencia Marathon 2022

George Schwiening, SOAR Race Team Athlete

Though a great experience with no regrets, my Commonwealth Games marathon was hilly, hot and far from a PB course. I was looking forward to the flat, fast conditions of Valencia.

The day before the marathon is never fun, full of nerves, uncertainty and wondering whether you have set enough alarms for the morning. My body and brain were well aware of what I was going to ask of them, and the effect it was going to have: leaving me an apprehensive, hobbling mess.

On the morning of the race, after a breakfast of coffee, hot cross buns, and chocolate, I walked to the start with some goosebump-inducing company, including World and National record holders, and Olympians. In the call-room area, I got talking to another female runner. I love the nervous pre-race chatter - there is nothing more reassuring than being reminded that everyone is in it together. I later realised I was speaking to the legendary Catherine Bertone, who ran a Masters World Record of 2:28:34 at the age of 45 in 2017. Inspirational is too small a word. She went on to run a 2:34:14 on the day. 

After a quick jog around the car park, applying vast amounts of Vaseline, tying and retying my laces countless times, it was time to head up to the start line. My target pace, set about a week before, was intimidating (at least for me at 3:28 mins per km). Three things were clear to me in that start pen: 

It was going to be a tough day whether I held the pace or not.

I was desperate for a successful ‘cash-in’ of all my training. 

I had made the choice to do this, with all the associated risk and pain. It was both completely optional and the ultimate privilege. 

The gun went off at 8:15 am sharp. Time to run. Everything started as well as can be expected for the first kilometre, but 2 km in a dog ran into the road, heading straight towards me, stopping directly in my path. With less than a metre to spare we passed and full-panic mode was averted. I had trained for many eventualities but not for a run-in with a dog.

I got down to my target pace, checked I was drafting nicely, kept close to the racing line and ‘zoned-out’ from what was going on around me. Other than trying to avoid any stress at the water stations, I don’t remember much. I do remember crossing the halfway timing mats and feeling pleased that I was on pace. There is often some GPS error in Valencia so having concrete confirmation was a nice boost. 

I have raced Valencia several times, but I have never been relaxed enough to soak up any of the city as I ran through it. This time however, I remember seeing the beautiful buildings in the old town in the second half. It really is a great city, particularly with the lovely soundtrack of local spectators shouting “Vamos Chicas!” and the cheers from my boyfriend who was doing an interval set to spot me at least five times. 

At around 37km my mind turned to the steep ramp from the road down to the dry riverbed towards the finish line and I couldn’t help worrying that my day might be ruined by cramping up or falling over on the ramp. The last 5km involved slightly more frequent checking of my watch and being disappointed at how slowly the metres were ticking by, but significantly better than Valencia in 2019 when my confused brain thought a marathon was 41km. It was very upsetting to discover an extra kilometre hiding at the end of a maximum effort marathon.

The descent of the ramp was uneventful, and I crossed the finish line in what felt like a lifetime later, stopped my watch and immediately felt overwhelmed. I had executed what I set out to do - and that isn’t ever a given in the marathon. 

Strangely, it isn’t the finishing time that I am most pleased with but instead managing to set out at the pace that my fitness had indicated. Without having committed it would not have happened. I’m happy and relieved that I had the confidence to execute it. 

The next day I had optimistic plans of a sea-front bike ride, touring the old town, visiting museums, and perhaps making use of the hotel pool. In reality, I lowered my post-race celebration expectations and we made it to a lovely restaurant for a tuna steak and cocktails. At the finish line, I forgot to collect a race T-shirt but the race organisation are kindly posting me one all the way to sunny Cambridge. I’m very much looking forward to putting it on and never taking it off.

Record Breaker

Jacob Allen, of the SOAR Race Team and Highgate Harriers, has been in fine form of late, snatching the club record 10K recently at the Valencia 10K in 28:45. We recently caught up with him for some of his choice musings on training: 

"It is imperative to have the willingness to accept that to run your best, it may take weeks, months and yes, years"