Our race director and the lead of the core team Catherine Edeam achieved a super milestone in her running this month by completing two marathons back-to-back over the bank holiday. Perhaps overcoming fifty-two milestones would be a more appropriate way of describing this incredible success.
True to her word and commitment, following a promise in December 2012 she had made to herself, the ultimate prize of achieving two marathons in as many days somewhat tentatively hung in front of her at times over the four months she set herself to prepare.
Training was never going to be easy. Let’s face it not many people could imagine doing one - never mind two marathons - ever - and this was to be in just two days.
The first hurdle was the snow and ice, which came in the middle of her build up to the challenge. Juggling a full time job plus 4 or 5 extra evenings a week as an aerobics instructor, the target was seemingly moving further and further away as days then weeks of frozen out conditions passed by (remember all the cancelled parkruns!!!?).
There was no turning back for Catherine though, who returned to a her self-styled training regime and began again to clock up mile after mile on Saturdays and Sundays, running 10, 13, and 15 miles back-to-back in a schedule befitting of only the most resilient. In the final few weeks she was hitting 20 mile runs on both weekend days, as well as somehow managing to participate or volunteer at our parkrun at Ally Pally.
Time moved on, and with one week to go, Catherine was perfectly poised for the attempt, with all her training completed on time. She did the right thing, what some say is the hardest step of all, and took a break in the final lead up. She knew it was going to have to be a matter of not just easing off, but preserving every single ounce of energy for this incredible double. “In fact I did barely anything that week” she told me.
Carbo’ loaded and race ready, Catherine stood robust on the line - first it was to be Richmond Park Marathon on Sunday 5th May. It was the first warm weekend of the year, and the sun rose high in the sky during the race whilst Catherine blazed through incredibly - at least until mile 23. At this point the tough trails and terrain of the park that had previously been second nature to her (being a regular at Ally Pally, what else would you expect?) suddenly told a different story and she knew that the fast time she was heading for was going to have to be compromised slightly. Overall second female at this point, she dropped to 4th before crossing the line in 3 hours 39 minutes. It was still a PB although she had wanted bigger glory; painfully witnessing two females steal places from her so late in the race. She was not beaten yet though.
Now just imagine having been through near hell and back over 26.2miles of hills and turns in the first heat of the year. You are devastated at the late stages of the race by dropping two places, you get home, wake up the next morning, and, while your legs feel like they just don’t want to move never mind run - you then have to do exactly the same thing again. And she did. It was back to the start line for another go at the marathon. This was her second comeuppance. An opportunity to obliterate any negative thoughts about her previous achievement that may have been lurking in her mind which was already set on achieving only the highest standards. Keeping herself well watered between events and continuing to carbo’ load with nutritional drinks, she hauled herself through the Milton Keynes event, never looking back. “This time”, she told me, “it was just a matter of keeping going. I knew I just had to complete - it was definitely not the time to look for a PB again!”.
The conditions were again going to test her though, as the temperature soared into the mid-20’s, forcing her to dig deep into her reserves. In what must have seemed an endless 4 hours 25 minutes on top of months of training, planning and the metaphoric and literal roller-coaster race of the previous day, she pressed on, totally unforgiving to her head and legs, and finally reached her ultimate destination - as the champion of 52.4 miles of racing in just two days!
Well done Catherine - for the record, that’s nearly 17 park runs - it would take the most frequent of all parkrunners four months to do this. Truly amazing! But then we are all at least a bit special at Ally Pally,...so come and join us...whether you just want to watch, help out, just get around or run with the wind...there’s a place for everyone. And if you’re lucky you can probably even get to meet Catherine in person.