• News from Jonathon

Marie runs up Everest!

Last week you may have read about our club’s annual ‘Awards Evening’ and a summary of the activities we’ve been taking part in over the past, difficult year.

One of the awards was that of ‘Outstanding Achievement’. This was jointly won, in fact, by Marie Murtagh and Sam Davies, both having had a wonderful season, despite the restrictions. As mentioned in the previous article, I didn’t want to “tack on” the piece I wanted to add about Marie’s ‘Everest Challenge’, and so here it is now…

On December 29th ‘20 at 6 p.m. Marie set off on her ‘Everest Challenge’.

Slightly closer to home than Nepal, the location was from the bottom car park of the ‘White Horse Bank’, up to the top car park opposite the airfield. A climb of approx. 160 metres.

So, what was this all about? Over to Marie…

“My brother-in-law was going to do an Everest challenge on his bike and he challenged me to do one too”.

Anyone who knows Marie won’t be surprised to hear that it didn’t take her long to take him up on it, although for her it would be on foot rather than two wheels.

She said “it’s been such a bad year with all our races being cancelled and I wanted to end 2020 with a bang!”.

Despite the conversation being held back in August, Marie chose the end of the year with the cold and dark conditions “to add to the challenge!”.

She started to look into the training needed and hoped to have done a bit more during the Autumn, but running with ERC and her ‘Kettlebells’ exercise class took up time, and then on top of that an ‘Achilles’ injury set her back about a month.

Hill reps started in earnest in October.

I asked Marie about the charity she’d chosen to support by completing the challenge.

“It’s been a really tough year for everyone, trying to cope with everything, so I wanted to help a mental health charity. Really sadly, suicide rates have gone up and mental health in general is so important, helping both the people involved and their families too.

A local charity based in Harrogate is called the ‘I Choose Life Foundation’ (ichooselifefoundation.com) and they do great work helping so many people, especially at this difficult time”.

I asked Marie about the preparation she’d put in for the actual day of the challenge.

Lots of food and drink were in evidence in the boot of the car. She also had to put in clothes for the different weather conditions she might encounter throughout. Warm layers, waterproofs, changes in case of slipping in the mud or downpours, and so on.

During the first three hours of the challenge she didn’t consume much food, then about every three reps (up and down) she had a bite or two ‘on the go’.

Throughout the whole event Marie had support from lots of people and extra provisions were brought to add to the mix!

So, the supporters? Friends from different walks of life, lots of ERC members and Phil from York’s Tri Club, which Marie also frequents. The support was really important as the event had been planned not knowing who or when anyone might come to lend a pair of feet, as it were, and a bit of banter. The challenge took 34 hours in total, 6 p.m. on Tuesday 29th till 4.30 a.m. on Thursday 31st. Marie tried to complete it unassisted, both the up and down reps, but during the final three hours she did have a little help in returning to the bottom car park.

This, in no way, takes anything away from the actual intention of the challenge as the ‘climbing reps’ “were the challenge” and managing about 31 hours of the down reps too simply adds to the achievement.

At the time of chatting, Marie had raised over £1500 for her chosen charity, from successfully completing the challenge.

So, a total of 87.89 miles with a total elevation of 29,317 feet. Everest is 29,040 feet so Marie managed the height plus a bit above!!

Wow, what stats! No wonder she told me she’d experienced a tad of hallucinating towards the end!

Did you have any doubts, I asked?

“Not during the challenge itself and with about 20 reps to go and 30 plus hours I was getting tired, but I’m really stubborn! And the supporters really helped me in those final hours. The only thing that would’ve stopped me finishing would have been an injury”.

Any future challenges? Maybe again for charity?

“I’d like to do more like this and for charity as I think that was really important, but nothing planned at the moment. I need to relax after this one!”.

Relax? Anyone who knows Marie will appreciate that she’ll be up and running as soon as she can. She ended up having a couple of hours’ sleep after her extreme challenge and then slept on and off throughout the day, getting up and finding some quite tired muscles.

In her words, it was a day of “sore legs”.

I’m sure everyone who knew about the challenge, friends and family were so proud of the achievement and on behalf of the running club, all at ERC who went to the ‘White Horse’ to support, encourage and donate, many, many congratulations.

Jonathon Harris-Douglas, Publicity Secretary

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