Runner Profile:  David Gamble

Next up in our ‘Runner Profile’ is Carrickfergus man David Gamble, an outdoor enthusiast and a talented long distance runner who prefers secluded mountain and trail routes over road running.  Nearly two years ago, 31 year old David had life-saving brain surgery.  After one month in hospital he returned home and with the help and support of his family and friends he made a full recovery, not only that…. but he went on to run the Mourne Way Marathon less than five months later.

Full Name: David Gamble
Current Category: Male Open
Associated Club: Seapark AC
Personal Bests:
52 mile Ultra Marathon (Trail) – 10:30:18, Marathon (Road) – 2:59:17, Marathon (Trail) – 4:11:24, Half Marathon (Road) – 1:22:37, Half Marathon (Trail) – 1:36:43, 10k (Road) –  36:47, 5 miles (Road) – 30:02, 5k (Road) – 18:34.


What is your favorite Northern Ireland event?  I much prefer trail and mountain racing over road racing. The NIMRA series is great and 26extreme put on some great events.  Within the NIMRA series the Mourne Seven Sevens is hard to beat, it’s a great test of mental and physical toughness.  I have raced it six or seven times now with a personal best of 4hrs 51mins. Within the 26extreme series the Causeway Coast is spectacular.

When did you start running?  I guess I have been running my whole life, I was never one for staying inside and playing computer games.  I loved running cross country in primary school but never took running seriously until I left secondary school.  I mountain biked a lot from the age of 15.  It was/is a great way to get about and explore.  I raced mountain bikes as a junior and senior in the NI Cross Country Championships.  This gave me a taste for competitive racing, and I loved it.  I have always been drawn to the mountains and trails, the path less worn has always appealed to me.

This interest was helped through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.  I completed my Bronze Award at the age of 14 and went through to complete the Gold Award at the age of 17.  I competed in a couple of triathlons in and around the age of 19 and then started to focus on my running.  I stumbled across mountain running by accident (about 10 or 11 years ago).  I loved to hike and explore in the mountains, but walking was very time consuming.  I started to pack lighter and wear trainers in the mountains and soon realised I was not alone in this quest for freedom.

One of my first races was the Mourne Seven Sevens, thinking I had entered the race I set off completing it in just over 6 hours to discover at the end that I had just entered the challenge walk.  This was the start of real running for me.

Why do you run?  I guess we all have our own reasons for running, for me it’s an opportunity to escape and relax; no computer, no mobile phone, no deadlines, just fresh air and the open road or trail.  My reasons for running have changed somewhat within recent years.  A large percentage of my long slow training runs are spent in prayer and reflexion, thinking about family and friends.

What is your next race and what do you want from it?  I just completed the Dublin Marathon, so I am currently enjoying a short break.  I have not rested much over the past twelve months, so racing is by no means a focus at present.  I may run a few of the 26extreme short winter races over the next couple of months.  I also like to run the Turkey Trot in the Mournes on Boxing Day.  There is talk of competing in the Castlewellan Christmas Cracker with Seapark club runner and friend David Turtle.  Come the New Year I enjoy taking part in the Race Over The Glens.  My plan is to simply enjoy these races, it’s a great way to keep in shape over the winter and enjoy a bit of festive banter.

What is your favourite training ‘session’?  Living in Carrickfergus, I am very fortunate to have Woodburn Forest and the Knockagh Hill nearby, from my house I am able to run up old stone lanes and short sections of road towards the Knockagh Monument.  The perfect mix of track, road and single track forest trail.  I am able to run 30 to 35 miles with only doubling back on myself on a handful of miles.  I have a pile of classic circuits in the Mourne Mountains, some of my favourites take in the high peaks with the Brandy Pad thrown in for good measure.

I also enjoy running in Donegal, its wildness is hard to match locally.  With regards to road marathon training, Seapark member Gary Connolly has some cracker mystery 20 mile plus runs in and around Carrickfergus.  A couple of months back Seapark member Gillian Cordner, Gary and I ran from Carrickfergus to Ballynure, Ballynure to Ballyboley Forest, Ballyboley Forest across the Antrim Hills to Glenarm.  A total distance of approximately 31 miles and a day to remember.

What is your favourite pre-race and post-race meals?  Thankfully I love savoury food and tend not to bother with much sweet stuff, 3 to 4 days leading up to a marathon I will eat lots of wholegrain bread, potatoes, vegetables, fruit and some meat.  I will graze on nuts and dried berries and keep myself well hydrated with water.  I am not a big fan of pasta.

My pre-race breakfast (6am) before the Dublin marathon consisted of 2 bowls of porridge, 2 bananas, 1 pint of water, 1 pint of SIS energy drink and 1 cup of filter coffee.  I had a 3rd banana 1hr before the marathon start and sipped on water up to 20mins before marathon start.  I would by no means call this a favourite meal, I just know that I have to load myself up to avoid hitting the wall.

Immediately after finishing a race I will hydrate well and graze on fruit and cereal bars, and a glass of milk always goes down well.  A favourite post-race marathon meal is Indian food with family and friends.  It is definitely not good for you, but it is often what the body craves.  After four months of concentrated training I guess you deserve a treat.

What is your running ambition?  My running ambition is to continue to enjoy running.  I tell people that once the smile goes, there is no point to running.  This applies to a lot of things in life.  We all have our goals and I have surely had my fair share of goals, but the enjoyment is in the journey, it’s never the goal itself.  It’s in the relationships built, stories and laughs shared and perhaps the odd tear along the way.  I am pleased to say that I broke 3 hours in the marathon in Dublin last week.  It was four years in the making with a couple of bumps in the road along the way.

I now want to focus on a bit more trail and mountain running.  I would like to run sub 4 hours on the 26extreme Mourne Way Marathon and sub 10 hours on the 26extreme Mourne Way Ultra Marathon.  I have ran both these events twice.  I would also like to concentrate my efforts on the NIMRA series.

What would you consider your greatest achievement in running to be? Running the 26extreme Mourne Way Marathon in 4hrs 11mins less than five months after brain surgery.  On 16th December 2010 I required emergency life-saving surgery.  Three operations in total and four weeks later I was able to return home.  I weighed 8.5 stone and could hardly climb the stairs.  Thanks to the power of prayer and the grace of God I was made well.  My family and friends and my wife Janet along with all the medical staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital were just amazing.

What other sports do you like?  As mentioned earlier, I enjoy mountain biking; it’s a great form of cross training.  I also enjoy a spot of swimming.  I rock climb from time to time during the summer months and I still enjoy hiking, along with scrambling and camping.