Blog | Running away from 40: a marathon challenge

Marathon Landscape

Is your new year’s resolution to be fitter? Here’s a Scout volunteer who knows a thing or two about sticking to fitness goals: Jonathan Carter is finishing his 53-marathon challenge by running 10 marathons in 10 days this spring.

“Nothing really prepared me for how hard a marathon was,” Jonathan Carter says of his first marathon in 2009. He was participating in the Windermere Marathon, which takes place on the final day of the Brathay 10 in 10 – an unbelievably gruelling challenge, involving running back-to-back marathons ten days in a row.

“Seeing the runners on their 10th and final lap around Lake Windermere, as a new runner, was inspirational,” he says. “Now, seven years later, I am on the starting line.”

It’s a challenge most of us could never even conceive of doing – a single marathon is tough enough for even the most enthusiastic runners. But the Brathay 10 in 10 is in its own league. Set amid the rolling fells of the Lake District, and almost in sight of where Jonathan used to camp as a Scout, competitors run an idyllic course around Lake Windermere, the UK’s largest natural lake.

Over ten days, competitors cover 262 miles - the equivalent of running from London to Durham - to raise money for the Brathay Trust, a charity that aims to help some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK. It is a cause that is close to Jonathan’s heart.

“I came from a single-parent family, which at the time I was growing up meant people didn’t believe you could achieve much.”

But, thanks in part to joining his local Scout Group as a Cub, Jonathan had opportunities to do things that would otherwise have been inaccessible. Now, he wants to give something back, and show others that the cards you’re dealt in life don’t have to dictate your future. 

Marathon Image

Jonathon crosses the finish line with his daughter 

Running the Brathay 10 in 10 will be Jonathan’s final challenge, topping off 14-months of running marathons every weekend (sometimes as many as three back-to-back). He will have run a staggering 40 marathons by the time he hits his 40th birthday.

In fact, Jonathan is running so many miles during competitions that he finds he no longer needs to train during the week. When he first began doing marathons, he trained by running the seven miles to work, at his job as a nurse practitioner in the local Accident & Emergency ward. Now, though, managing injury is his priority.

“Allowing the body to recover is as important as the running,” he says. He restricts himself to physiotherapy and strengthening exercises during the week, to ensures that he can be on the start line at the next race, ready to run at his best, no matter how many miles he already has in his legs. 

Since January 1st 2015, Jonathan has run 1136 miles and completed 25 marathons. Now, he's on the home straight towards finishing his challenge and completing the Brathay 10-in-10.

“I won’t stop running,” says Jonathan, contemplating life after his marathon challenge – although he does admit that he’s looking forward to having a break for a while.

“I’ll miss the weekends away with the family. We’ve made some fantastic memories, travelling to competitions in our 1969 VW campervan – although a long drive with a sweaty runner on board doesn’t quite equate to ‘living the dream!’”

You can keep tabs on Jonathan’s progress via his website, and help him reach his £4000 fundraising target for the Brathay Trust. Has Jonathan’s story inspired you to be fitter in the new year? Tell us about your goals and challenges for 2016 on Facebook and Twitter.

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