Athlete Q&A: Katy Parrott takes on the MLAU

Don’t miss this exclusive interview with Montane athlete Katy Parrott who is taking part in the inaugural Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra (MLAU). Discover her preparations and reasons for taking on one of the world’s coldest environments.

Based in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful landscapes on the planet, the artic circle in Swedish Lapland, the MLAU promises to be another thrilling event for ultra-run enthusiasts. Eager to find out more? Take a look at our dedicated blog to learn more about the inaugural Lapland Arctic Ultra event this March, or keep reading to hear from Montane athlete Katy Parrott, who took part in this years shorter 185km event.

Discover why she decided to sign up and her preparations for taking on such a cold climate.

Why did you sign up for the Lapland ultra?

At the end of 2020 I had a bad injury which meant I had my left knee reconstructed - not ideal for someone who can barely sit still for more than 10 minutes! I initially struggled a little, as I couldn’t do all the things that I love - running, skiing, exploring the mountains etc. However, fast forward to over a year of intensive rehab and I was searching for my ideal ‘comeback’ event. The MLAU is the perfect fit as it ticks so many of my favourite things - travel, snow and adventure! People think I’m bonkers, but I’ve really missed that wonderful type two fun of endurance events -  it’s really tough at the time, but the feeling of achievement when crossing the finish line is irreplaceable.

Have you done anything like this before?

I’ve done plenty of Ultras and have experience in the extreme cold in various places around the world such as Norway and Georgia, but combining the two is something I haven’t done before. I am very excited for this new type of challenge and hope to learn a lot from my experience to make myself an all round better ultra runner.

How have you prepared for such an extreme event?

I always like to mix up my training. For this event, I’ve been getting hilly trail running miles in my legs, sessions in the gym to keep on top of knee rehab, and then dragging my new buddie ‘Tyrone Jnr’ the tyre around my local park (and getting lots of strange looks and funny comments). To top it off, I’ve been doing a cold water swim once a week without a wetsuit - in January the water was down to 4 degrees! It’s not fun getting in each time, but I get a real buzz from it, and mentally it helps me embrace the cold in my own weird way.

What are you most looking forward to?

Getting back doing what I love the most - challenging myself in an epic landscape and meeting like-minded people. I suppose I want to prove to myself that I can still do it, even with my new knee scars. I’ve also never been to Sweden so I’m really excited about visiting somewhere new and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Northern Lights!

Alternatively, do you have any worries/ fears about taking on something like this?

My hands and feet don’t particularly enjoy the cold, so I’m going to have to monitor them quite closely to make sure I don’t allow any frost nip to creep in. I suppose there’s also some nerves about the event being my first one back after my knee injury and surgery - I don’t want to let anyone down.

What kit will you be relying on to keep you comfortable and protected?

I’ve narrowed it down to 3 of my most essential items. I’ll be using PRIMINO tops and long janes as my base layers. I’ve used Montane PRIMINO for years now and it has never let me down when being active in cold conditions and it’s always a bonus that merino helps against odour! As I mentioned, my hands can get pretty cold so I’m going to be taking a selection of gloves. For extreme cold weather I’ll have the Symphony modular mitt - they are fully GORE-TEX and highly insulated with a removable lobster style inner. Alongside this I’ll also have the lightweight Prism glove paired with the Dart Liner. Double layering should give me the warmth my hands need! With this event, it’s not just about kit whilst on the move, but also while stopping to cook and sleep. The Resolute Down jacket will be going straight on whenever I stop to help keep me toasty in those sub zero temperatures!

Any other plans beyond this for 2022?

I always have many adventurous plans swirling around in my head, but right now I just want to focus on testing myself and my knee out in the MLAU. If all goes well I’ll certainly be booking in some ultras in the UK to help keep building my endurance. I’m always open to ideas by the way! There also may be a high altitude peak on the cards… watch this space.

Do you have any key words of wisdom you live by?

I very much have a ‘yes attitude’. A lot of what I have done has been by simply saying ‘yes’ to adventures or events that usually scare me or are totally out of my depth. You will always surprise yourself by how much more you are capable of than you believe. If you have an itch you want to scratch, scratch it. Because you never know if you never try. Explore your discomfort zone to expand your comfort zone.