Libbie Joyce has already achieved an incredible amount at such a young age, becoming on of the UK’s best OCR athletes and competing in the World Championships in the USA, yet 2024 looks like being even more successful (and busier!)

Happy Monkey have been proudly sponsoring Libbie on her journey and we caught up with her as she prepares for the first Spartan race of the season AND gets ready to begin her GCSE’s!

Hi Libbie, how has this year been going for you so far?

I ended 2023 on such a high and felt 2024 wouldn’t be as good but that’s only because I’m in Year 11 and taking my GCSE’s. People are always saying schoolwork has to come first, which I understand, but to me my sport will always come first. I am dyslexic in reading and writing so schoolwork is hard but my school, The Friary, has supported me so much and allowed me to put my training and competing first while missing school time to compete and helped me find a good balance. It’s worked because when I started high school I wasn’t expected to pass any GCSEs and now I have been accepted to stay on at my school in 6th form. My mock exams went really well and hopefully I will do as well as predicted in the real thing!

So, 2024 was looking like a quiet year compared to 2023 because of GCSE’s. I was really gutted to be missing the OCR European Championships in Italy because my last GCSE exam clashes, but my Mum & Dad agreed I would do the Spartan UK races and the OCR World Championships in October.  Then in February I received the news I thought I would never get till I was at least in my early 20’s!

That sounds exciting. What was it?

When I began the Spartan Races at the age of 9 I looked up to the Spartan Pro Team and as I improved in the sport and went out to the first Spartan Kids Worlds at 10 years old I knew that one of my goals would be to make that Pro Team when I got older. It’s always been one of the biggest reasons to keep me motivated and not give up.

In February I got an email asking if I would like to be 1 of the 5 UK females to be on the Pro Team! I still can’t find the words on what this means to me.  I know this year will be hard – well, incredibly hard – but to be given this opportunity in such an important year has given me so much drive to make this work, as well as making me extremely happy!  I don’t see myself as that Spartan Elite just yet though. There’s a lot of hard work over the next 5 years to try and stay with that top pack and work my way up slowly.

What else have you got planned for this year?

This year is looking insane and very exciting. I have begun a podcast and get to chat to other junior athletes and then there are all the races to look forward to. There’s the Spartan UK races, Spartan Zandvoot, Spartan Morzine, Spartan European Championships, OCRWC, Spartan’s Short course World championships and then I’ll  hopefully finish the year off with Spartan Trifecta Worlds!

How will you find time for your GCSE’s?!

The first Spartan UK race and Zandvoot are while i’m taking my exams, but I honestly think if i couldn’t race I would find exams hard. After Zandvoot it’s half-term so I can come home on the Monday and have a week of studying ready to carry on exams. It’s all about finding a balance.  All the championship races are after my exams thankfully, so I have that balance again where I can concentrate on my exams and my training ready to hit the championships head on.

Amazing! Best of luck with it all Libbie.