Ever thought about taking your running to the next level? Well, these people have. Meet the breed of runner who dare to push themselves to the next level: the ultra runner.
Marathon des Sables 2015 – Rebecca Bryant
Described as any distance over a marathon, what seems like the realms of the superhuman has now become a stark reality to me. I'm training for the Marathon des Sable 2015 – a multi-stage race across the Sahara desert in April this year. My goal? Obviously to finish but also to savour the experience, stay motivated when the going gets tough and enjoy what is going to be the ultimate adventure. As a regular marathon runner (I've completed around 18 marathons to date), I have some idea of what to expect – manky feet, extreme hunger and the knowledge that when you need to go, you find a bush or dig a hole in the sand pronto. But the heat and fact that I have to be self-sufficient and carry everything I need for the duration of the race is a different ball game. Let's just say my rucksack complete with water bottles has become my hot accessory of the past few months. Hundreds of runners of all abilities take part and I believe that this shows anyone can run an ultra. All it takes is a bit of planning, dedication and self-belief that you can go the distance. She's amazing, sponsor her for Great Ormond Street hospital.
Country to Capital– Stephanie Muzzall
I signed up for Country to Capital after my boyfriend got bored of me talking about it and told me to just get on with it! I didn't enter for a time, I wanted to finish, have fun and eat cake - if you don't want these things go and do an ironman or tough mudder instead. Ultra training is all about slowing down, finding company to run with and learning what cake keeps you going. Rather than a boring mile by mile run down here's my race in numbers: 68.4 km ran 57 my finishing place (out of 296), 30+ fabulous marshals on the route. Ultra running wouldn't happen without the volunteers. 13 miles to go. A famous sign on the course and the moment I put my headphones in. I didn't listen to a whole podcast, but it was company on the lonelier part of the course. 8 running buddies next to me on the start line. 7 slabs of go beyond cake/other treats and snacks scoffed. 6 hours 50 minutes of running, 2 marathons in training. 1 amazing coach who got me further and quicker than I ever thought possible, her expertise kept my mind at rest throughout training. Follow Stephanie's blog.
Thames Path 100 - Justin Bateman
I'm currently training for the Thames Path 100-mile race in May this year. It starts in Richmond and follows the river all the way to Oxford. I ran an 85-mile race last August so I'm not new to ultras but I have a feeling those extra 15 miles could be quite painful! Training for an ultra isn't all that different to training for a marathon. There's no need to do any more than 40 miles a week although a few long runs (30-50 miles) in the build up certainly help and give you confidence you can run for a long time. I love the adventure of running through the day, through the night and into another day. It's just so unlike every day life. It's also a great way to test myself. I don't often start something wondering if I can finish it. I've made loads of new friends ultra running; it's such a friendly and supportive community. Go on, sponsor Justin right here!