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My Name Is Charlie Cooke, And I Love To Run
Last summer I ran my first 100km ultra marathon, a few months after completing my first ever marathon. Why did I think this was a good idea? Well I have to put it all down to Instagram.
Last summer I ran my first 100km ultra marathon, a few months after completing my first ever marathon. Why did I think this was a good idea? Well I have to put it all down to Instagram.

I'd added my specific IG fitness account in May '16, to document my return from a motherhood-induced-loss-of-identity and a battle with Post Natal Depression. I was finally ready to make a change to my eating habits and generally inactive life.
I had a background of light running, my furthest being a Half marathon in 2009, which was followed by pretty much nada for a good few years. I flitted in and out of running and exercise, coming to a complete halt once I had fallen pregnant for the second time with my son, as it gets pretty hard to train with a 10 month-old and first trimester vomiting...
When I finally came back around, my son was 3 and it was time to sort myself out!

I set myself a number of challenges once I'd got into the groove of running. I lost about 2 1/2 stone, I booked a few races, ran every day in December, and executed a crazy 3 Half Marathons in 6 weeks race schedule.

Fast forward 2 years, and I find myself reflecting back on what I've just achieved.

3 Ultra marathons in 6 weeks.

And what I want you to know, is that if I can give it a bash, I bet you can too.
It takes hard work, a commitment to training and consistency always. You'll also need a decent amount of kit, although the 'top' brands aren't always necessary for all kit. For example, I know plenty of people who get on just fine with a cheaper hydration pack instead of shelling out on a Nathan, Salomon or Ultimate Direction pack (I have both a Nathan and Salomon so I'm NOT one to talk here).

The series of ultras I completed, are the Threshold Trail Ultras. And I have a wicked hat trick hoodie (you get this when you have completed the 3) to show off my efforts once the temperature has reached normal UK standards.

We started in June with Race to the Tower, a double marathon, in one big lump, along the Cotswold way. 54 miles in total with over 8,000ft of elevation gain. The weather was just hotting up at this point, and it was a tough cookie. It was the longest I'd ever gone in one go, and I really had no idea how I would fare on the countless hills. It turns out, this is now my current favourite of the three, and I'm desperate to get back next year and have another go! Probably the most appreciative I've ever been of my OOFOS, I was dying to get those babies on my feet. They felt more like heaven than EVER!
Second up and only two tiny weeks later, I toed the start line with my ultra buddy Martha, for Race to the King, a double marathon along the South Downs Way. This time we were taking it on over 2 days, with a stay at overnight basecamp. 

This was the first really HOT race I’d run, the temperatures reaching 25 degrees and plenty of hills and open plains to get hit full force by that sunshine. There was hardly any cloud cover, but thankfully, this route did have a good amount of shady sections through woodland, so just as you started to feel you needed respite, you’d enjoy a lovely shady couple of miles to reenergise you. Our friend Andy was crewing for a couple of runners but he also bought sweets and fruit to give out to others on the way. It was so good to see him! I loved this race and I felt really strong throughout. I’d love to give it a go all in one, day 1 was only 24 miles which was a bit of a shame. 
Three more weeks rolled on and I was back for my final instalment with Martha once more. This time it was super special, as this was our first ultra, individually and also together. So many lovely memories came flooding back as we stepped into the start area at Race to the stones, ready to take on the longest Threshold Ultra, 100km over 2 days, along the Ridgeway.
Again, the hot weather showed up, and it had been doing its strength work because it was now pumping out 27/28 degrees. Much less shade to take advantage of on this route, we had to run smart. Day 1 we decided we would take it easy and see how things felt in such hot conditions. We landed at basecamp (the best basecamp of the 3 events!) and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, did yoga, ate and ate and then watched the sun go down in our OOFOS to the soundtrack of 2000’s garage music. 
The next day was the hardest on paper – little shade, long drawn out stretches to run and difficult terrain, but something strange happened overnight and we flew through day 2. We both felt strong and were energised by this new motivation we both had. Maybe we just were keen to be done!

Race to the Stones will always be my heart, but Race to the Tower has given me a desire to challenge myself more, not to mention the beauty of the Cotswolds making up for any climbing and sweating that happens.

I thoroughly recommend tackling an ultra marathon. It’ll set you on fire and show you just how capable you are. Anyway, it’s basically a glorified picnic with little running breaks between. How hard can that be?! 
 
You can read full write ups on the events on my blog www.whatcharlierannext.com
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