My 2017 Ultra-Marathon Challenge
This week we bring you the story of Natasha, a member of our Solo Female Travel community. She tells how she combines fitness and travelling (seeing different places while you workout!) in to a monthly challenge throughout the year. We love it! What's your way of bringing excitement into everyday life?
2017 dawns partly because I’ve spent Christmas and New year eating and drinking too much at my second home in Peru.
I return to England and think about a fitness plan for the year. The thing is, I get bored at gyms, they smell and are stuffy. I lasted longer at boot camp on Clapham Common but it is too costly especially now I’m working for myself. I turned my attention to long distance running, and come up with a plan: one ultra-marathon per month for the whole year!
Sounds challenging? But seriously, it’s the lazy person’s answer to fitness: I’ll walk or run every race slowly and I won’t have to train in between. I’ll get to see the country, and learn more about the nation’s awesome national trails. It’s a no-brainer. I love my idea!
As is my wont, I find an excuse to leave out January. I’ve been away for a month so January is spent working hard, honest. February though, there’s the XNRG Pilgrim Challenge, 33 miles along the North Downs Way. A lovely walk to start the year, even with the evil mud. There was friendly mud too, and hills, which I do love.
March saw me in Dorset doing the Votwo Jurassic Coast Challenge for the third time, a perennial favourite. I caught up with vegan friends Louise and Dani, and flexitarian vegan Mariepaule, who, prepared a lovely meal with confit de canard whilst sipping cashew nut milk. I even learned to embrace the shingle on that race, and have found that jogging slowly on sand or shingle is the best way to get through what are usually small stretches.
April, um, what was April? I sound blasé – they do kind of all meld into one, but yes, I remember, how could I forget. Probably the hardest of the year so far. Action Challenge’s Isle of Wight challenge. 66 miles around the island. Someone said it would be hilly, a smile broke on my face and I said, ‘I hope so.’ Hills are great, they give a chance to change speed, alter gait, give one set of muscles a rest while the others get going. It’s like burpees, once you’ve embraced them, it’s easy to do them well. If you’d like a burpee session with me, just shout. I’ve been to the Isle of Wight before when I was 16. But I don’t really know the island. It’s a great place, except for the concrete. Any little section of coastal path they could possibly cover with concrete, they have. Great for accessibility, awful for my legs. I ended that race with a swollen part of my left leg that I believe has no name. The race cost me a lot of money with a physiotherapist, but it did not stop me on my quest for an ultra a month for the year. Except I missed May. But I’d stockpiled in March, I didn’t mention I did the Cerne Giant ultra, brilliantly organised and I got to go to Dorset to see a big, ancient man with a willy, on a hillside, the Cerne Abbas Giant.
June saw me in the Cotswolds doing Threshold Sports’ inaugural Race to the Tower. I did day one with six friends, but they carried on through and completed 80 km in one go. There was no way I was doing that, so I booked my tent, had a leisurely carb-loaded dinner and went to bed at 6.30pm, to awake the following morning and complete the second part the following day.
In July, I was in the South Downs National Park completing 50 km of the Serpent Trail, in the beautiful heathlands of the South Downs National Park. The views were just stunning. I ran further than I have in a long, long time before I found a way of dispatching Louise off with some real runners so I could continue at my leisurely, slow pace.
August is a biggie. I'm running the Quadrathon: 4 marathons over 4 days in Ireland. I’d never been to that part of the world before, not for many years at least. I’ve been preparing myself for lots of tarmac, but the marathon distance is my favourite distance, especially when it involves getting up and doing it again the next day… and the next. Today's Day 2 and I have 3 blisters. It's 9pm, and I'm going to bed for some rest, after another enormous meal of jacket potatoes (note the plural).
The rest of the year includes the Wye Valley, Cornwall, Argentina, and I need some ideas for December! Any thoughts, please get in touch with me!
Natasha became interested in ultra-marathons in 2011 and ran her first one in Jordan in May 2012, 250 km with 4 Deserts. The friends she made on that race made her go back for more and she’s been interested ever since. Besides (very slow) running, Natasha works for herself as a declutterer having left her day job in July 2016.
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