I've run a few marathons — with varying degrees of success. So I can relate a little to what the Virgin Money London Marathon runners are feeling right now, two days before the big event: excitement, anxiety, trepidation... I've always stuck to the traditional getup of vest, shorts and trainers, but I've seen all sorts of weird and wonderful costumes on the course, from nuns and clowns to dinosaurs and Easter bunnies. But I've never seen anyone running in heels.
The mere thought makes my toes curl. I'll spare you the gory details, but post-marathon feet are not pretty — and that's when you've run in double-layer socks and well-fitting trainers. Put it this way, there's no need to paint your toenails before the race because they're likely to be a sultry shade of purple afterwards. That's if they're all still attached to your feet, of course. (See, I told you it wasn't pretty.)
So I was curious to chat to 37-year-old Natalie Eckert from Stoke, who goes by the name of Team Stiletto and is planning to run VLM on Sunday in heels. That's right: 26.2 miles of running in stilettos (a hot-pink pair from M&S, in case you're wondering).
As well as raising money for two charities, Asthma UK and Winston's Wish, Natalie hopes to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest female marathon wearing high heels. To do this, she needs to complete the course in less than seven hours — but she's even more ambitious than that: "I don't want to scrape in at 6:59. I want to set a decent pace that rivals my peers. Five hours is my aim."
How do you even train for running a marathon in heels? I pictured Natalie running around the streets of Stoke in stilettos. "I've followed a proper training regime for 18 weeks, most of which has been done in trainers," she said.
Incredibly, before she started her training plan she'd never run more than five miles, although she has been running short distances for pleasure for over 10 years.
And she does have experience with running in heels — in February she ran for charity for 24 hours on a treadmill, in heels in her local Asda: "I'm waiting for verification of my evidence from GWR but I'm hopeful to have set a record for the fastest 50 miles in heels on a treadmill as I covered 51.4 miles in just over 19 hours. My feet were bleeding and blistered after 2 hours where I had wrapped my feet incorrectly but I pushed through."
Photo credit: Team Stiletto
This lady definitely has the drive and determination to achieve her goal. To help Natalie raise funds for her chosen charities, visit her JustGiving page. And pop over to Facebook and Twitter to give her some encouragement.
Virgin Money London Marathon starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 26. Live coverage is on BBC TV.
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