Sally has had one hell of a year. Starting off by running her 100th marathon in January, the year has gone from strength to strength. To cap it all she was second overall and first lady in the Centurion running Grand Slam (running 4 x 100 miles averaging just over 18 hours for 100 miles!). Anyone who runs ultra marathon events know that staying fit for one 100 mile event a year is tough, staying fit for four is epic!
Below Sally tells us about her journey and her love for the longer distances.
"People often ask me if I've always run and they seem surprised when I say no. I have a distant memory of winning the junior cross country race at school but then there's a long gap of a fair few years where I was more interested in ponies and socialising with friends. I did the odd 10k (my first in just under an hour) and the Great North Run a couple of times in my early twenties but I remember not particularly enjoying running - more a means to an ends with a particular race as the goal.
It wasn't really until I had both my girls (now 9 and 6) that running became a part of my life and that was mainly out of a necessity to fit in exercise around them and work etc.The gym was 20 mins away and I only had an hour or two to fit in some sort of exercise so it made sense to just go for a run.
Running around Lakeland terrain I soon became fit enough so that a run was enjoyable and not just a hard slog and the distances started getting longer. A few more 10ks and a couple of half marathons later I was looking for a challenge. Then came along what would be a life changing opportunity. The company I worked for had a charity place in the 2011 London marathon and so I applied. I got in and the hard work of training through those dark winter months and the added pressure of fundraising started.
Despite the most awful race and feeling like I'd been run over by a bus at the finish line, the memories of the pain soon faded and I entered another just four weeks later. The Brathay Windermere marathon. It was a tough hilly course and I was over the moon to come 4th lady. But during the race I had my eye on something far bigger and more extreme - the Brathay 10 in 10. As I passed a few en-route I knew it was something I too could do. So only two weeks after finishing my second marathon I sent a begging letter pleading to be a part of next year’s 10 in 10 (2012). A year later I was on that start line. 10 days later I was the new women's record holder (and Guinness world record holder) and beat all the blokes! It was beyond all my expectations. It made me so proud when my youngest, Isla, then 5, wanted to take the GWR book to school for 'show and tell'.
And that's where it all began the 'road to 100' . The slippery slope of extreme runs, far flung destinations and multi day events.
One of the great things about running is the adventures and places it can take you. I've been in the middle of a frozen lake in Sweden, half way up the Eiffel Tower, the Big Apple, The Great Wall of China and the top of Scafell Pike ( to name but a few) all in the name of running. Sometimes I go to race, sometimes just for a nice day out or to see parts of the country you wouldn't normally see, sometimes to see a different country, sometimes as a challenge out of my comfort zone and sometimes just because there's a nice pub at the end! That's the thing with running you can set your own goals and you don't have to take things too seriously.
I gained 100 marathon club status on the 3rd of January this year (unfortunately two weeks too late for my mum to see) and have since concentrated on the longer stuff. It's been quite a year. First lady at the Centurion SDW100, the Thames Path 100 and the ultimate trails 110k as well as achieving one of my ambitions of a sub 3 hour marathon at the Manchester marathon. I think someone must be looking down over me.
It doesn't leave much time for shorter races but I often take the girls to Parkrun on a Saturday morning ( my average is about 40 mins!) and I always let them beat me!
Running has become a part of my life. I've met some amazing people along the way, most of whom are as mad as me and many of whom I now class as close friends. It's helped get me through a divorce, losing my mum and a few other low points as well. But it's also where I met Matt and where our love of running brought us together. And now we go on running adventures together, always plotting where the next one will take us.
I'm not sure what lies ahead - I never imagined running 100 miles so who knows what daft races in far fetched places await!"