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53 marathons in 53 days: One girl’s incredible running challenge

One marathon is tough, however good a runner you are. Can you imagine running 53 of them on 53 consecutive days? Crazy, right? Well… maybe. But that’s not stopping one determined young woman from giving it a shot.

I’ve run a few marathons. In each case, it’s taken me a good few weeks to recover — both mentally and physically — before I’ve been able to get my running shoes back on and resume training.

Amy Hughes, 26, a sports therapist from West Fulton, is only days away from running a marathon in Chester. But she’s not stopping there. She’s running a total of 53 marathons, in 53 U.K. cities, on 53 consecutive days, to raise money for the Isabelle Lottie Foundation, a charity that supports children and their families following the diagnosis of a brain tumour.

I spoke to Amy about the inspiration behind her ambitious plan and how she’s planning to cope with the challenge.

SheKnows: Can you tell us a little about your running background?

Amy Hughes: I actually wasn’t interested in sport in the slightest during my school years. It was only after school that I took an interest in running. I just had a thought one day of starting to run, so I got up and ran probably not even half a mile. But I thought it was amazing and haven’t looked back since. I started running marathons when I was about 19. My first one was the LA marathon in 2009 and I have since completed many marathons. I have done the London marathon for a number of years.

Running for fitness >> 

SK: So why are you running 53 marathons in 53 cities on 53 consecutive days?

AH: I have always wanted to do some big event to try and raise a lot of money for charity as well as raising awareness of the importance of keeping fit and active. I read a book by a really inspiring guy called Dean Karnazes. Dean is an American ultra runner who completed 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. His book is so inspiring, it makes you believe that the impossible is possible. So from that moment it was kind of like a light switch. I knew I had to do it.

SK: Why the number 53?

AH: The current world record is 52 marathons on 52 consecutive days (although I think someone is attempting to break that at this very moment.) The female world record is 17 marathons on 17 consecutive days.

SK: How are you feeling now that you are only a few days away from your first marathon? What do you think your major obstacles will be?

AHI am so, so nervous. In a good way… kind of! I’m most nervous about the actual logistics of it, making sure I’ve got the right routes, can find the hotels OK and can find suitable places to park the camper etc. I think the major obstacles are going to be things like blisters and fatigue and, of course, if I pick up any injuries along the way. But I am going to take each day as it comes and cross those bridges when I come to them.

Summer sports to get you in shape >> 

SK: How difficult has the planning been? We imagine it’s fairly complicated — has it been tough working out the logistics of travelling between cities etc.?

AHDefinitely. It’s been like a full time job in itself trying to plan and organise everything. The city to city route was actually not too bad. It’s the cost of fuel, organising drivers and support crew, writing and sending press releases that’s been the harder part. But there have been a lot of kind, generous people who have been so willing to help.

SK: What is your strategy for running 53 marathons in 53 days? How are you going to approach each one in terms of pace etc.?

AH: I am aiming to complete each run at around the five hour mark but some days may be a lot quicker and some may be a bit longer. I think it depends a lot on how I feel on the day, whether I have any injuries or niggles and if I have other runners with me. My aim is to just enjoy them as much as possible, while trying to rope others into doing a few miles or marathons with me along the way.

Help Amy reach her fundraising target of £53,000 for the Isabelle Lottie Foundation by donating here. You can also follow her incredible running journey on Facebook and Twitter. And if she’s running in your area why not join her?

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