Land’s End to John O’Groats

GRC member and ultra running specialist Nick Payne has always had the goal of being able to eat 6,000 calories a day and still lose weight. To help him achieve this he decided to try to run the length of Great Britain.
His route covered over 1,000 miles taking in some of the best trails and National Parks the UK has to offer. This made it more interesting (and hilly!) than the shorter road route – his route had around 100,000 ft of elevation or over 3 times the height of Mount Everest.

The event consisted of 31 days running with 4 rest days, to try to reduce the risk of injury. This meant an average of 34 miles a day, usually starting at 8am and finishing around 4pm. The rest of his time was spent eating, sleeping and seeing the physio!
He was very nervous before the event which was made worse by a fellow runner saying “Don’t think of it as a 1000 mile event, just think of it as five 200 mile races – that’s my favourite distance”. Nick just hoped the hundreds of marathons and ultras would count for something when the going got tough!

Week 1 began at Land’s End on Saturday 3rd June. The event couldn’t have started much worse – on day 1, he fell over on a stone stile and gashed his leg. Fortunately, it didn’t affect whether he could run but the scar stayed with him for the full event. Nick did eventually improve at falling over, and learned to land on body parts which definitely wouldn’t affect his running! He also got accosted by some cows, which was a theme of the event.

There was also a lot of running on sand this week, giving Nick a huge blister, which threatened to derail his event. Fortunately, it healed quickly under close medical supervision. Week 1 finished in Bristol for a much-needed rest day.
Week 2 started with running over the Severn Bridge into Wales which was an amazing moment. The rest of the week was spent traversing Wales, finishing the week in Preston. Nick’s favourite day this week was the mountain day in the Brecon Beacons as the views were incredible and he grew to love the mountain days.

His favourite day in week 3 was a tough mountain day in the Lake District. After tough days runners learned to treat the following day as a slow 30-mile recovery run. It’s amazing how your mind-set and definition of “what’s normal” changes during an event like this. The event director cheekily called week 3 “an active recovery week”, as it was only 170 miles!
Nick also reached Scotland in week 3 – by this time he had a number of overuse injuries and was hobbling on the final day this week with no idea how to get through the remaining 500 miles.

Fortunately, after a rest day and plenty of strapping, he was able to continue running. The highlight of week 4 was running the West Highland Way, even though there was more bouldering than running at times as the terrain got quite technical.
Week 5 was his favourite week. The Northern Highlands are stunningly beautiful and very remote – most days je only came across a handful of people. I also surprisingly enjoyed the challenge of running through Scottish bogs, which took his mind off how tired he was.

Nick finally finished the event in John O’Groats on Friday 7th July. All twenty-five who finished the event said it was one of the best experiences of their lives!

Now time for a lie down….

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