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The Loire Valley and finishing line

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out. I’ve been very busy lying on the couch and drinking beer.

Day 17 – Dreux to Chartres: The run route went through small country towns with no shops or cafes. I really struggled to find enough water to get me through this one. Normally I would refill my water bottles at a cafe along the route as there is a limit to how much water I can carry in my rucksack but on this occasion it was not possible. Luckily I managed to persuade a couple of locals who were out in their gardens to refill them.

That night I stayed in an Abbey in Chartres. Really beautiful town with an amazing cathedral and canal system. I ate a massive pizza to celebrate catching up on the 8 miles lost on day 11. That was a great feeling.

Day 18: Ran along fairly flat country roads. The fields were full of rapeseed oil plants which absolutely stank. Very pretty though. The run went well until mile 18 when again I was hit with dehydration problems. The weather was far too hot for someone accustomed to Scottish weather. Had to stop and force myself to drink lots of water to get back on track. Luckily, the first rain in 2 1/2 weeks fell at this point and cooled me down. This immediately relieved the symptoms and I could continue the remaining 8 miles no problem. I must have looked like a loony to the locals as I had a beaming grin on my face running drenched in the thunder storm.

Day 19 – Rambouillet to Versailles: Another hot one and quite hilly. Really beautiful stretch which went through a forrest. I had an incentive to finish this one quickly though. Not only was the boyfriend waiting for me at the hotel, he had hinted that he had brought a pork pie with him. Glorious! No irn bru though ūüė¶

Day 20: This was by far the most enjoyable run. Could not wait to get going. The roads leaving Versailles were shaded by rows and rows of trees which meant it was a nice and cool run. I ran this one much quicker than previous runs until mile 19 when I pulled a muscle in my left thigh. At first I managed to relieve the pain with my knee strap but by mile 21 it was really hard to bend at all. I had to hobble run the last 5 miles but there was no danger of me not finishing it. Far too close to the finishing line to quit.

I had problems in the morning with the hand held sat nav so had to guesstimate how far the Arc de Triomphe was from my starting point. I overestimated by 1 mile, which led me to (by complete coincidence) end up finishing by the Eiffel Tower. I couldnt believe my luck when I glanced at the running watch and it showed that I was due to finish the 26.2 next to this world famous landmark.

I had a big smile on my face when I finished and sat on the steps next to the Seine waiting for the boyfriend to make his way from the Arc de Triomphe to the new finishing line. He brought champagne with him which made up for the missing irn bru.

Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. Could not have done it without you. Special thanks go to the following people:

Evonne (sister) – Cycle support for the first 5 days. She carried my food and water, set up Camp Pasquill each night and helped motivate me through the first 5 killer days.

Parents – Support for days 6-9. Big thanks to my homeopathic mum who gave me lots of medical and nutritional advice to help prevent injuries and illnesses.

Oliver (boyfriend) – Google in human form. Found all of my accommodation, found the run shop in Rouen, updated my blogs and took me on a fab tour of Paris when I finished.

Iain Campbell – Posted most of my twitter comments and provided lots of support in the planning stages.

Mark Cooper – Very kindly met up with me before the challenge to provide advice having previously ran 50 marathons in 56 days from Amsterdam to Barcelona. Continued to provide advice and motivational support during the challenge.

Homing on Paris …

Day 13: Nice and sunny with freshly cut grass along the side of the road. Really good running conditions and a beautiful stretch to Dieppe. Got offered 2 lifts during this run. It’s a good job they asked me at the beginning of my run and not at mile 19. The temptation might have been to great.

Day 14: Started my run in Auffrey which is about 10 miles south of Dieppe. Quiet country roads and sunny weather. Shoes started to fall apart towards the end of this run. Luckily the town I stayed that night (Rouen) had a running shop.

Day 15: Bought new trainers in the morning. Got the size up to give my swollen feet some wiggle room. Really struggled to motivate myself through this run. No particular reason why. Just wasn’t in the mood to run. Arrived in Evreux very late and did not sleep well due to aching feet. However I ended up running 29 miles which I’m quite chuffed with.

Day 16: Woke up to find massive blisters on my feet. Took a while to get into my stride but got there in the end. Hopefully my feet will get used to the new trainers tomorrow. Off to Chartres for No. 17. Only 4 more to go! Then back to watching the tv from the comfort of my couch.

Through Belgium and in Picardy

Day 7: ¬†This was a tricky day. I nearly had to pull out of the run because I couldn’t keep any food down. Only managed to drink a small milkshake before I set off. For lunch I forced down half a banana and some ice cream. Body kept rejecting solids. Luckily my appetite returned the next day. On the positive side, it was a beautiful stretch. Running along the beach which gave my knees a rest. The WWII coastal defence guns were a sight!

Day 8: Dunkerque to Calais was pretty straight forward. Feet were swollen but other than that, not a bad days running.

Day 9 – Calais to Boulogne Sur Mer: Very tough day because of the hills. Reminded me of Cornwall during my lands end to John O’Groats bike trip. A hill around every corner!

Day 10: Busy roads and no cycle paths. Pretty boring run but ended up in the beautiful  coastal town of Le Touquet. I ate a steak to celebrate completing 10 marathons. Got funny looks off people in the restaurant as I was dressed in a tracksuit and had wet hair.

Day 11: Had real problems with this run. When running I felt like I was constantly bursting for the loo. Not a pleasant feeling. I ended up having to stop at 16 miles because it was getting worse and headed to the local hospital to get checked out. The doctor said I had a beginning kidney infection, caused by heat and dehydration. She gave me the all clear to continue following medication which was a relief.¬†¬†I didn’t leave the hospital until late at night and so decided it was not wise to complete this marathon. I’ve decided to make up the extra 8 miles (2 mile run to hospital plus 16 completed earlier in the day) over the course of the remaining marathons. Pretty gutted that I didn’t finish the marathon but it would have been unwise to continue without seeing a doctor.

Day 12: Glorious sunshine today which lifted my mood. Ran from Abbeville to Le Treport. The run went OK and the scenery was amazing. Now I am sitting in my hotel room drinking gallons of water and praying to the running god that no more injuries/illnesses befoul me. 8 more marathons to go!

Getting through the Netherlands…

So I’ve completed the Netherlands part of the marathon, and am now in a hotel in Brugges (thanks parents). Here’s an update from the last few days…

Day 3: After feeling like I couldn’t move one step further on day 2 I was amazed to wake up feeling somewhat refreshed. My legs were buzzing all night as my calves and knees tried to heal themselves. This tends to keep me awake for the first few hours as it feels like I have an army of workers healing my body (I’ve affectionately started to call them my ‘fantasia men’!!). Was a really tough day because of the terrain -running through the sand dunes south-west of The Hague took a lot out of me: hills, sand and sun make for some difficult running!! Turns out the Dutch have a rather liberal approach to distances on maps so after 26 miles we were no-where near Ouddorp, and so instead crashed out at a camp site in Brielle. Word of warning to all campers – Holland is freezing at night!! Evonne ended up having to stick her legs in her rucksack to keep warm.

Day 4: Fantasia men worked their magic again, though I woke up with really swollen feet. I’d been told that this was a possibility and that I should bring trainers a size bigger just in case, but I had no idea that it would be like this. Tying up my shoelaces, I ended up with only a few centimetres left at each end as I’d had to loosen them as much as possible. Have switched the tight socks for some ankle socks as my swollen feet were a much more pressing concern than my calves. Managed to keep my shock-reducing insoles in for the first half marathon and then had to take those out too as I felt like my feet were going numb. I was worried that all of this would put a lot of strain on my knees so when possible I started to run on grass at the side of the cycle paths to lessen the strain a bit – seems to have worked. We camped again, but this time I was a bit better prepared for the cold. Wore every item of clothing and stuffed all my equipment around the edge of the tent to insulate. Managed to keep just about warm enough to fall asleep and let my legs heal once again…

Day 5: After 4 days of wearing my knee brace on my right leg, finally had to switch it over to the left as my left knee started feeling uncomfortable. Spent most of today running over the tidal barriers and bridges of the west coast. This put a bit of strain on the knees as there were whole stretches where I was forced to run on tarmac or concrete. Luckily, in the middle of one of the tidal barriers there was an island a couple of miles long where I could give my legs a break on the sandy grass. Saw some beautiful national park land and wind-turbine farms. The parents picked me up from the end of the last bridge and drove me over the border to Belgium. Two nights in a real warm bed in Brugges were a great motivator throughout the day!!

Day 6: Fantastic waking up in a hotel with warm beds, and warm showers and hot coffee… have slightly changed the plan for today and will be running from Brugges to the coast and then south (trying to catch up some distance lost on the cycle-paths in Holland). Our waitress this morning told us about a cycle-path that follows the canal to the sea. It’s about 25k long so my dad is going to join me running until Oostende and then I’ll run the rest of the distance alone down the coastline… will let you know how it goes…



The first days

Finally I have internet connection so I can send  the first update.

Day 1 was tough. Carrying the backpack slowed me down considerably. Ran past windmills and sand dunes. Haarlem is absolutely beautiful. Had sore feet but other than that felt good.

Day 2 started off well. Made good progress until the 16 mile mark and then it was absolute agony to get to 20 miles. Felt a muscle strain on right knee and could barely walk the last 5 miles. I made it to the end though. Will see how I get on today.¬†I spoke to Mark Cooper who said this pain was normal for the first 5 days so I’m gonna try and tough it out and take each day as it comes.

Evonne is receiving the brunt of the generosity of strangers. She had free beer 2 days in a row. Now in The Hague heading towards Ouddorp.

20 marathons in 20 days

Hi I’m Jennifer and I’m running 20 marathons in 20 days from Amsterdam to Paris in aid of the British Red Cross. There have been many natural disasters this year which have required immediate action from charities like the Red Cross. The Red Cross are the first in and the last out which is why I have chosen to raise funds for them.

But why 20 marathons in 20 days?

Well I wanted to do something that I would be proud of in years to come. You only live once, so why not see how far you can push yourself.

I have ran 2 marathons to date РEdinburgh and Belfast. I was crippled for 2 days after each which has caused some concerns with family and friends who can remember me hobbling about. This time, however, I am confident that I will not have this problem. I will be running the 20 at a much slower pace and will stop and do stretches if I feel any muscle strains developing. During training runs I have had no injuries at all. Even when running consecutive long distance runs.

Only 3 training runs to go before I head to Amsterdam on 6 April for the first of 20 marathons. Wish me luck!