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Jamie and his fiancée Suvdmaa Ichinkhorloo
Jamie and his Mongolian fiancée Suvdmaa Ichinkhorloo

Press Release - 19 August 2008

Porter Jamie wins 100km Mongolian ultra marathon by running to work every day

As Olympic athletes train in the best facilities the world has to offer, porter Jamie Roberts has won a 100km ultra marathon in Mongolia by running to work every day.

Jamie, 43, is a regular competitor in long distance mountain runs and completed the Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset event this year in the winning time of 12 hours and 28 minutes.

The event is split into two parts and takes in three mountain passes. The first half is a standard 42km marathon, and then the final 58km is for those who have entered the 100km race.

This year the run took place on 9 July and was the 10th anniversary of the event. It was the fifth time that Jamie has competed, and the second time that he has won.

The race attracted competitors from around the world with 35 registering for the 100km race and 50 competing in the marathon. The race takes place in Hovsgol National Park - one of Mongolia’s top tourist attractions - and proceeds from the race help fund waste management and environmental projects for the national park.

Mongolia experiences extreme weather conditions and the runners were dealing with temperatures of up to 38 degrees.

Jamie said: "In winter months the temperature can sometimes be below -40 degrees, but in the summer it gets very hot. Luckily on the day of the race it rained in the morning and the ground was wet. I think this gave me a bit of an advantage because it was the kind of conditions I am used to in this country."

Jamie said he has always loved the outdoors and keeps fit by running or cycling up Bathwick Hill to the University each day.

He said: "When I was a child my brother and I used to spend a lot of time in Wales rock climbing and hiking. Then, when I was an art student, I used to box and would run to keep fit.

"I have never owned a car, so I get everywhere by walking, running or cycling. I like being out in the open air and countryside, the natural environment inspires me."

Jamie started off doing mountain runs closer to home and has competed in many events organised by the Fell Runners Association in Wales, especially in Snowdonia.

"I don’t really enjoy road running, I prefer running off road and like travelling in mountainous regions, which is why I have taken part in races in countries like Nepal and Mongolia. I am also really interested in different cultures, when I travel I like to spend time with people and understand their way of life."

The first event that Jamie took part in outside the UK was the Everest marathon.

He said: "I really enjoyed this event. There was a 10 day trek through the mountains before we reached the start at Gorak Shep, nearly 6000m above sea level. The race raises a lot of money for charities working in rural Nepal and many people at the University kindly sponsored me for this race.

"One of the other competitors told me about the Mongolian Sunrise to Sunset event. The race interested me and I was very curious about the Mongolian culture. Most country people still live very traditionally and are nomadic, there is a strong horse culture and children learn to ride at a very early age."

Jamie is now planning to move to Mongolia and marry his fiancée, Mongolian athlete Suvdmaa Ichinkhorloo, who has won the woman’s marathon event nine times in a row.

He said: "We ran most of the marathon hand in hand; when she won the marathon I knew that I had to try and win the 100km race despite stiff competition from some of the Mongolian runners.

"We have known each other for four years and I have been trying to learn Mongolian for some time now but have only really made good progress this year. Still, communication is sometimes difficult as Suvdmaa does not speak English."

Jamie’s next race is a 50 mile run in Shropshire, part of which will be after nightfall. The course is not way-marked and competitors need to use map and compass to navigate their way to each checkpoint.

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