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4 Marathons in 4 Days

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Natalie Does 4 Marathons in 4 days
















She writes:

So why did I decide to do this? 

Simple answer - I'm not sure. Sometimes I look at the 100 marathon club website, not because I have aspirations in that area but because it provides a good list of events that are going on in the UK/Europe/World. It was just around the time of the Manchester Marathon, and I thought that I would like to have something to train for in the Autumn. I saw the ‘Quadrathon’ event. It covers most of the Inishowen 100 scenic drive: 


For those of you who don't know my Auntie died towards the end of last year of Cancer and I also wanted to do something that would raise a bit of money for the hospice that looked after her. So it was settled. I went for it. 


After the Manchester Marathon, I had a bit of a rest for a month in May, still running but really just ticking over. I needed that rest as I trained quite hard to hit the 4 hour mark in April. Next time sub 4, hopefully I can avoid the howling gales, sleet and flooding next year. 

June, July and August I trained hard. I basically did a few short runs in the early part of the week, and my long runs in blocks of 4 later in the week Thursday-Sunday. I didn't do excessively long runs, the longest single run I did in training was a 21 miler, that week however I think I peaked at doing 10/17/13/21 over 4 days. I did so many 10 milers that 10 miles seemed nothing, and even doing 17 miles didn't seem like a lot. I was able to maintain this volume of training by running at the right paces (e.g. I don't try to leg it everywhere). I kept a bit of speed work in the mix to try and make sure I didn't turn in to a one pace plodder.  

I did runs in the rain, runs in the sun, runs in the daytime, runs in the evening. I never found it a chore. I enjoyed it all. I've run on my own, I've run a lot of miles with friends, for which I am very grateful. I have genuinely loved the training. 

So quicker than the blink of an eye, the week before the race came around, and on the Saturday, despite going out for the world’s hottest curry to try and kill the germs I started to come down with a cold. I NEVER get colds, and by the time I had landed in Derry and got to my hotel in Redcastle (Co. Donegal) I felt like utter rubbish. I had aching behind the eyes, a sore throat and streaming nose. Yuk. I basically spent the Tuesday and Wednesday in bed in the Hotel, and thankfully come the Wednesday afternoon before the first Thursday Marathon I felt quite a bit better. Not running never crossed my mind, but I just wanted to be in the best form I could possibly be. 

The first Marathon on the Thursday started from my hotel, and there were only about 20 of us doing it. This is a new event in its first year, so we were the pioneers and the first people to run these marathons. Thursday was quite a hot day. The first 13 miles were fairly uneventful, undulating and warm, with some fantastic views of the seaside. However after halfway we took a right turn up a hill that had a TV aerial that looked a long way away. Well... we ended up close to that aerial. The views of Kinnego bay were amazing, bit after a 3 mile exceedingly steep climb, I was wondering what I had let myself in for. Thankfully we were so high up there as a nice breeze and it was a lot cooler. As we went back down, the temperature rose and the undulations were relentless. We headed towards the finish at Culdaff, the clouds came in and it started to drizzle. That was nice. I came in @ 4.43, feeling my no means taxed and that I had run within myself. One thing to note is although I am using the term "we" here, I pretty much ran all of these marathons on my own. There were usually people within sight ahead or behind me and a little bit of overtaking to-ing and fro-ing but it was quite a solitary experience. I'm not saying that is a bad thing! 

The second day was a complete contrast. We got bussed a little way up the road to the start, and it was freezing cold and starting to rain quite heavily. The shop / toilets where shut, and we all had to huddle in a stable to shelter from the rain. (The horse was out!). I took it super-steady for the first few miles before settling in to my pace. Everything felt ok. The weather on the other hand was foul. We went round some of the most northerly bits of Ireland, in the pissing rain with the wind howling in off of the sea, however the views of the beaches and the coastline were still beautiful. The hardest bit of the day was the Knockamanny bends, at about 15 miles, but after 18 miles they had finished and it was relatively plain sailing back in to Culdaff, again the countryside was lovely to see. The climbs were not as bad as day #1. I came in @ 4.35, feeling strong, soaked to the skin. One slight problem in that one of my toenails was a bit sore, but apart from that I felt fine. 

I had some confidence I could do back to back Marathons, because earlier in the year training for Manchester I did the Rhayader 20 and Ashby 20 back to back and felt OK on it. So number 3 would be proper uncharted territory.  

I got up on the morning of the 3rd marathon, and felt slightly sore. I felt a lot better after having a walk around, but it worried me a little. I had coated my offending toe in vaseline to try and protect it as best I could, and we set off. Although the soreness had gone, my legs felt heavy and I had a bit of a general "meh" feeling. I would say that the first 13.1 miles of that 3rd day were the hardest of the lot. My toe didn't hurt, but I was worried it would start to, and despite my cold feeling better I had developed a little bit of a cough, which was annoying me. Miles 10-16 of the 3rd day were exceedingly windy. I - yes someone of my build - almost got blown across the road at times, and face on the wind actually almost stopped you from running. Typically we never had the power of it behind us at any point! Miles 16.5-18 took in one of the steepest climbs I have ever done over the Mamore Gap. Good grief. I can't even begin to describe the steepness of it. Close to the top there is a shrine with statues, very creepy looking in the wind with the rocks sky high around you and no one else around - I was pleased to get past that 18 mile point. The best bit of the 3rd day was the run down in to Buncrana, and the fact that for the last mile or so I was running behind the lead car as it had come back up from the finish to find the rest of the people on the course. It gave me a real boost, having it with me made me feel slightly important, and I soaked it up because it is probably the only time I'm going to have the experience of running behind it!! I upped my pace in the last mile of that race. I came in @ 4.52. I was over the moon with that because trudging my way up to the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Mamore Gap I thought I would be in over 5 hours. I think day 3 was the hardest Marathon, both in terms of hill climb and weather (the wind was really draining) 

As I lay in bed on the morning of the 4th day wondering what the sensation would be when I tried to move, a strange thing happened. Nothing hurt. I got out of bed, and still, nothing hurt. I walked around, had some breakfast, made several flights of stairs, and nothing hurt. Talking to the others at the start, the effect was very similar. People had felt a bit off at the start of day 3, but we were all OK at the start of day 4. The final Marathon was a little bit flatter, but by no means flat. We started by running through Buncrana, on some fairly main roads along the coast, and it was nice to have some different scenery going through villages. By halfway it was very warm, and I was glad (in all of these races) of the mobile marshals in cars supplying extra water. At about 18/19 miles we got to Muff, and after that it was a left turn and a 7 mile grind along the banks of Lough Foyle back to the hotel where we started. You can see the hotel from about 6 miles away, I just concentrated on drawing it closer to me. About 3 or 4 miles out, I started to overtake Half Marathoners. Then – bang - I was there. At the hotel I ran down the driveway (0.34 miles - its long driveway!) at 7.20 pace, arms waving in the air to the finish. I hugged the race director. I almost started to cry, but I was so stunned by the fact I'd done it I couldn't. I stormed it. 4.27 - the fastest of the 4 marathons by eight minutes. 

I'm sorry if this sounds sexist, but there were 3 ladies doing this event, and we all put in incredibly consistent times. On the last day I came in 5 mins behind a guy who usually runs 3.15 marathons. Not because he was injured or ill, but just because he was knackered. The girls ruled on this one I think! Here we all are - the survivors:  

And you know what? The body must get used to these sorts of things because Monday morning I was wide awake naturally at 7.30am, my legs felt fine. If I’d had to do another one I think I could have done. 

I have had a lot of congratulations from people, and a lot of "I don't know how you did it", "You are amazing" etc. I am really grateful for all the positive encouragement and compliments, but the simple facts are I have built up to this, I wanted to do this, and I trained in a sensible way. Anyone else with the experience, the will and the time to train could achieve a similar thing. I will say though I have learned a few things about myself in those 105 miles and surprised myself with some of the times that I managed to run on extreme hilly courses like that, so I am a little bit proud. You don’t know what you can do till you try.














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Site Last modified: January 29, 2016