Why this runner completes marathons dragging a tyre behind her

As if running marathons and ultras isn’t hard enough, Rima Chang adds to the challenge by doing them while dragging tyres weighing up to 10kg. ‘My tyre running raises awareness,’ says Rima, a Windsor-based IT consultant and a keen conservationist. ‘People want to know what I’m doing – and whether I’m crazy. It’s a great way to start a conversation. I hate the amount of rubbish that people throw away so I focus on one achievable goal – reducing the use of disposable plastic.’

‘It started with a need for space. In 2006, I needed to get away and decided to go to the North Pole. I found someone experienced and willing to go with me, who said I should practice dragging things to replicate the sled that would carry all my belongings. I needed a focus, so I entered a marathon I could drag a tyre at.

In the beginning I suffered a lot of injuries: After my first marathon, I had shin splints, followed by an IT-band issue, an Achilles injury and plantar fasciitis. So I studied Pose running [a system designed to improve technique and reduce the risk of injury] to learn about technique. I have been injury-free ever since.

I use a body harness to attach the tyre. I tried a climbing harness but it caused poor running posture. On dry grass and asphalt I am aware of the tyre’s resistance. In tropical conditions, when the asphalt is hotter, the resistance seems to increase. On ice and snow, the tyres feel light but have a tendency to fill up with snow.

My tyres all have names. I have one that is kind of prissy – I call her Red. She’s a bit posh, from a BMW. I took her on five marathons but she is difficult to move and often gets stuck in things, so I retired her, marrying her off at a friend’s wedding to another tyre, Landy.

I am fast downhill. One thing I’ve learned from pulling a tyre is how to run downhill. I can run down a hill with a tyre faster than many runners without one, as the tyre keeps me more upright.

Anyone who has to deal with themselves for long periods of time will become mentally stronger. It’s not an exact science, though: I completed the 100K Race to the Stones in 22 hours and felt on top of the world; then, a month later, I did the Seabank Marathon and totally lost my mojo.

I don’t really train. I just do short runs of around 5km between events. When you do one or two marathons a month, you don’t need to train as well. But I like to play touch rugby and hockey and go climbing. I’m sure that tyre running has made me physically stronger.

My age is a secret. Too often we are judged according to age. My aim is to run 100 events of marathon or ultra distance by 2020. I’ve done 64 so far, including 15 ultras.’

RIMA'S TIPS ON BEING A GREENER RUNNER

Refill

Take your own bottle and refill at checkpoints. As well as reducing plastic waste this avoids water waste from partial sips from a bottle that is then tossed aside.

Bag it up

Carry a special ‘trash’ bag to keep hold of your empty fuel wrappers. It is horrible to see trails littered with empty gel packs.

If the shoe fits…

Good running form extends your shoe life. Since learning the Pose technique, I’ve only worn through two pairs over 64 races. Before that, I wore out two pairs in just four events.


Rima raises awareness and funds for scientific conservation charity Earthwatch. She tweets at @tyrelady.