The Hillsound team caught up with Pat Malaviarachchi after his successful finish of the Sky Pilot race hosted by Coast Mountain Trail Series on the 21st September. Here’s our interview with Hillsound’s local brand ambassador:
H: Hi Pat! Congratulations for completing the race in 16th place! How do you feel?
P: Thanks! I was really pleased with how it went. The perfect weather, stunning course, and racer camaraderie made for a great day of playing in the mountains. Gary Robbins and the team at Coast Mountain Sports have dialed-in how to create great events.
H: Were you always an active person?
P: I was reasonably active as a youngster but became much more so in my late twenties and thirties, especially after moving to BC. It’s hard to restrain yourself when surrounded by so much mind-blowing terrain!
H: I know that you are a mountain biker as well, but what kinds of other sports were you involved with in school, community, etc before you got into ultra-running?
P: I never really embraced team sports and was equally horrible at individual sports in high school. In fact, I loathed running and dreaded our annual cross country run. As I got older, I realized that any modest natural talent I had was not in speed but rather endurance. I’m a slow twitch muscle fibre kind of guy. Before getting into ultras, I used to adventure race, mountain bike, road bike, and dabble in some rock climbing.
H: What does staying active and healthy mean to you?
P: Staying active is massively important to me. There’s no better stress release than exerting yourself to a point where all extraneous thoughts melt away and you’re forced to focus on the task at hand. It’s like having a mental reset. I find the more you do, the more you realize you can do, and this can eventually snowball into a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.
H: When you’re training, do you have any favourite songs you like to listen to?
P: I actually don’t listen to music while running. I know it can provide extra inspiration or distraction but I find I need neither. I’m usually training with very hyper friends and we generally chat our way through the forest.
H: What’s the process like for you to be preparing for a race like this? (You don’t need to reveal your personal secrets!)
P: Normally it starts with a Google Earth flyover of the race course. It gives a great 3D sense of the terrain and can do a lot to improve course familiarity. Virtual simulations only go so far though. For a technical race like Sky Pilot with big climbs and descents, I tried to incorporate as much hill work as possible into my training, ideally on mountain scrambles. Compared to ultras, the 18 km distance is a bit of a sprint so I made sure to throw in some faster fartlek-type running on trails into my training.
H: Are you known as “that active guy” among your friends, or are all your friends as active as you?
P: I lived in Ontario before moving to BC and back there, I was very much known as the crazy mountain biker or extreme adventure racer. Out here though, I’m just another guy enjoying the great outdoors. On one of my first runs on the north shore, I saw a couple probably in their mid-60’s hammering down some gnarly single track on their mountain bikes. It was a beautiful thing.
H: I know that the ultra-running community is huge, but I feel that it is also quite close knit. Do you get to meet a lot of people and stay in touch after these races? Did you see any familiar faces at this one?
P: Definitely. These kinds of races are basically trail runner reunion parties. The community is very close knit but equally open to newcomers. Trail runs are frequently being organized on Facebook. Before long, you may find yourself sharing an epic 10hr adventure with someone you just met in the ultra-running community.
H: In what ways was this race challenging, but also rewarding in the end?
P: The race was made challenging by the steepness of the climbs and gnarliness of a few boulder field crossings. It’s one thing to casually walk across boulders on a hike, quite another to negotiate them as fast as possible with the clock ticking. You had to be light on your feet and find a zen-like flow. The most rewarding aspect of the race was the magnificent view from the alpine ridges that overlook Howe Sound, the Sky Pilot massif, and Mount Habrich – BC trail running at its finest!
H: Thank you for your time Pat! Keep us posted on your next races and congratulations again!
P: Thank you for the opportunity!
Find out more about Pat on our Ambassadors page!