This year my plan is to complete 12 ultra marathons in 12 months - varying in distance from 45 to 100 + miles.
This is a big ask both mentality and physically but felt like an apt challenge to help raise funds to support a cause very close to my heart.
Isla Austin has been fighting high-risk neuroblastoma since her first birthday, Isla is now 3 and an absolute trooper. You can't imagine the amount of treatment she has been through. Isla is the daughter of Rick & Anna (friends I met a few years back at a local bootcamp).
Rick is a legend - he even occasionally let me beat him in shuttle runs. A great friend and father with a beautiful family. With three young children Rick & Anna have their hands full but take everything that is thrown at, them like a bull by the horns.
Friends and family are leading the charge to support the Austin family who are now in New York where Isla will be undergoing more treatment not yet available in the UK.
Isla's friends and family have done an amazing job fundraising so far, a true reflection of what is so great about humans and community when fighting for the same cause.
On the 13th January, I completed the Country to Capital Ultra running from Wendover to Paddington (45 miles across the Chilterns and along the Grand Union Canal).
On Saturday 3rd February - I completed the muddiest run I've ever encountered - the Thames Trot (50 miles) following the Thames Path from Oxford to Henley.
Probably my 'best' run to date was The Viking 100 mile run in Herne Bay, here I managed a sub 24 hr time and came in as 3rd lady, that was March.
April saw my first (and likely only) attempt at a 24hr track race in Crawley....it was as hard as it sounds but I kept moving for 24hr - unlike a lot of other participants - I say no more.
In May, I took part in the Ox covering 60 miles of hilly trail on the Rushmore Estate, near Salisbury - perfect weather conditions but a tough run for me, full of cold. The medal of course made it all worthwhile and the muscle fatigue I am feeling right now continues to be a delight.
June hit me with race no.6, Race to the Tower, where I hit the trails from Stroud to Broadway tower covering 52 miles with over 2300 metres of elevation across the Cotswold countryside. it was beautiful but tough.. the final mile never seemed to end - but god it felt good when I finally reached the tower.
The Jurassic Coast in July was probably one of my favourite races yet - I totally took the pressure off and just enjoyed it, tackling 63 miles of coastline from Poole Harbour to Bridport - plenty of hills, sandy and stoney beach runs - harder than it looks! And my friend Kim was at the end to meet me which was a bonus.
In August, I completed the Wye Valley 100km from Chepstow to Hereford, beautiful scenery and again a reminder that humans are not in charge! A dry first half was very welcome, and then the rain came... never easy but a challenge well worth the medal at the end. And with plenty of familiar faces it made for a nice day out.
There is a bit of an illusion that the more miles you cover the easier it gets, this couldn't be further from the truth - you learn how to get through it but every step remains tough and constant mind/body battle.
September bought the logistical dream event with the St Albans Stampede, a 12 hr endurance race around Heartwood forest (10mins from home).... meaning no crazy early get up and a drive there and back followed by dinner afterwards like a normal person ;). I covered 56 miles in this event, pretty much running from dawn until dusk.
In October, I hit the Peak District for a 50 mile trail run across the hills, again lots of climbs and descents and some amazing views. The route followed the Tissington Trail and then the Limestone Way - hitting the end to a car sticker instead of a medal...was slightly perturbing! but still there was a t-shirt.
Race no.11 in Northampton was a 6hour endurance event, where I finally achieved a top 2 position in class, covering over 60km throughout the challenge.
So the final race is now complete, the Festive Frolic in Dover, another 6 hr race under the belt and a few more miles in my legs ahead of the Christmas festivities. A 2nd place ranking again... (one day i will get 1st!). 60 km covered in sunny but breezy conditions down in Samphire Hoe Country Park.
Job done. Mission complete. And body in tact. A big thanks to everyone for all the support and positivity over the past 12mths.
Isla and her family are looking forward to Christmas together with limited treatment and away from GOSH.
Thank you for all your support. Please dig deep and give generously.