What’s it like doing an Ultra Marathon?

Taking on an Ultra-Marathon: What it’s really like, from someone who knows

Following our recent post on Extreme Fitness Challenges to raise money for a great cause, we thought we’d feature a Q and A with someone who has taken one on. Find out what it’s really like to raise money for a charity you’re passionate about, and change your life a little along the way!

Exercise makes you feel good
Exercise makes you feel good

Dad-of-two Chris McConville recently competed in the Trans Pennine challenge, a massive 100km run all the way from Manchester to Sheffield, via 1040 meters of pure climb. Daunting, eh? We asked Chris what taking on such a huge challenge was like, and how he started out:

“I started off running eight km Monday – Thursday, rest day on Fridays with a 30km run on Saturdays and a three hour run every Sunday. That was gradually increased to 20km Monday – Thursday, a 40-70km run on Saturdays and a five hour run on Sundays. It’s quite a commitment especially with two kids!”

Sounds seriously impressive to us! But it wasn’t just the amazing challenge of running 100km which made the employee of Newcastle-based company, Mediaworks, undertake this huge test of willpower, strength and fitness – but his commitment to fantastic charity, Macmillan Cancer Support.

Having lost two grandparents to the disease and as a great admirer of Macmillan’s work, Chris’ motivation was to raise as much money as possible for the charity. He commented:

“I have decided that each year I will be competing in a major challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support who are fantastic with supporting those in need and their families.”

Although Chris was forced to drop out of the race after showing amazing will-power and dedication and making it to a brilliant 93km before collapsing, he still managed to raise over £1,500 for the cancer charity. How did he feel after such an achievement?

“In pain and exhausted, but elated at the same time – I wish I had of gone that extra 7km, but I literally couldn’t move my legs after collapsing when approaching the city of Sheffield.”

We asked Chris whether he had any advice for someone thinking of taking on an ultra-marathon, should they do it? His answer was twofold: training for an ultra-marathon is no mean feat – even if you are already fit and have competed in marathons in the past, you’ll need at least 10 months of seriously hard training to be ready. But that you should do it, since it’s only something a tiny percentage of the population can say they have done!

If you are passionate about raising money for a charity and are looking to give it a go, make sure you’re well prepared, start slowly and build up to longer runs, as even a marathon seems like a walk in the park compared to 100km:

“Running a marathon is hard, but running 100km is a totally different challenge. The blisters, the cramps, the endless supply of ibuprofen, hallucinating, rehydrating yourself, energy gels, exhaustion and a constant battle with your mind (which is telling you to stop) are just a few of things you have to go through!”

Commented Chris.

This list of training tips is great for first timers. Being on your feet for so long takes its toll, so it’s extremely important to make sure that you’re wearing the right shoes, check out the running shoe range online at Decathlon or visit your local running shop and get started today!


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