Sticks will be banned!
Running Fitness magazine, January 2003
Following Captain Barclays epic achievement
in 1809, the London Marathon organisers have decided to incorporate
a mightily similar event in this Aprils race.
ready? Then well begin. This is the tale of a new challenge
from the organisers of the Flora London Marathon. Its very
simple. This year six runners are being invited to take part in
the Flora 1000 mile Challenge which means competitors have to run
1000 miles in 1000 hours around the London Marathon course. Thats
one mile and nor more or less than one mile run, walked
or crawled every hour for 1000 hours, or 38 ½ times around
the course. You cannot miss an hour, you cannot go home for a up
of tea and a good nights sleep, in fact you cannot do anything but
nip in and out of the event bus on a mind blowingly frequent basis.
How frequent? Well, as the number punchers who have their calculators
out will tell you, youll be hopping off that bus once an hour
for 41 days or more descriptively eight hours shy of six weeks!
Oh, and just to make it a tad tougher, the 999th to 1000th mile
will take the competitors to the start line of the London Marathon
where theyll arrive just in time to start this years
race! Convenient or what?
even more amazing is its been done before at least
the 1000 miles in 1000 hours bit has been. In 1809 to be precise
by Captain Barclay who did it for a 1000 guinea bet. Peter Radford
has written a book about Barclays days and it is this book
that set race director Dave Bedfords brain whirring one lunchtime.
"What, " he mused after a drink or two, or three "about
recreating Barclays challenge up and down the course?"
And so this
incredible challenge was reborn.
a challenge is somewhat barmy and possibly offputting, so the organisers
will be encouraging the madness by offering £6 a mile for
every mile completed. A further £1000 will be awarded to everyone
finishing all 1000 miles and then a further £3000 is on offer
for the first one of the remaining runners to complete the Flora
London Marathon. Not a bad pay day at all, although back in 1809
Captain Barclay eventually pocketed 16,000 guineas, which is around
£40 million in todays cash!
have been selected at a number of trials up and down the country
and include Sharon Gayter and international class ultra distance
runner and Britains No 1 for the last six years. Shes warmed
up for the event, as have the other five (announced at the end of
December), by completing 24 miles in 24 hours. "Remarkably
easy, " she says, adding she is under no illusions as to how
much more difficult completing six weeks of that will be. Think
about it yourself. What did you do six weeks ago? What have you
done in the interim? Even if youve done nothing but sit down
and watch telly, thats a mightily huge chunk of time isnt
say fatigue, lack of sleep, general ailments, anxiety and numerous
other problems will occur in those six weeks and the organisers
are only too aware of that.
know Captain Barclay lost 32lb and at points had to be beaten with
sticks to get him out of his bed and back on the road, " says
Radford. "But we wont be using sticks this time around,
" adds medical advisor Mark Porter the resident medical expert
on Radio 2s Jimmy Young programme. He does, however, admit
that it has been difficult to ascertain precisely what the problems
will be as clearly nothing like this has occurred for quite a while
now. Blisters and muscle pulls will come into it, but mental fatigue
will be the main problem, or so he reckons. And living on a bus
for six weeks with five other people and possibly many many more,
thanks to the media, watching wont be easy either, he adds,
"Itll be like Big Brother, only in a smaller place. You
just wont know how people will deal with it."
What is pretty
certain is the technique the competitors will be using. According
to Bedford theyll all be using the Barclay method whereby
youll run your mile at the end of one hour and the very start
of the next, allowing yourself a full 90 minutes or so to kick back
and take it easy. But should any start to tail off, every encouragement
will be provided (sticks excepted) to help the competitors on their
knows the answer to is, wholl be best equipped to win. Clearly
readers of Running fitness will be visualising running
such an event, but as Bedford suggests, possibly it could be someone
like a super-fit sheep farmer whos used to just a few hours
sleep a night in the summer? Maybe an SAS chappie, or as Gayter
reckons, maybe itll be a woman whos used to getting
up and looking after a newborn baby?
ponders Radford, "itll be interesting to compare todays
life to that of the past. Does modern life equip you for the challenge?
Captain Barclay and his generation walked everywhere
to Birmingham. Today we obviously drive."
So many questions;
so many hours; so many miles; one thing is for sure. Itll
be a fascinating challenge that starts on March 2nd and ends sometime
on April 13th on the Mall, assuming beating with sticks is allowed
back into the sport.
Captain Barclay Sport, Gambling and Adventure in Regency
Times is available for £7.99 from book shops (ISBN 0
7472 6490 2)
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