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A Tale of Ten Marathons

Many of you have run a marathon or two. You know that feeling of fatigue and trying to recover in the following days. Imagine then the prospect of doing it all over again the very next day, and the one after that, and the one after that………

Martin Croucher decided that ten marathons in as many days was something he’d like to have a crack at and here, in his own words, is the story of just how that went.

“When I was speaking to Rupert at the curry night a couple of weeks back, he said to me “do things while you can”. A sentiment which we should all adhere to but quite often we put stuff off since we believe there will always be another time. I know from personal experience over the past 18 months that things can change quite dramatically so you need to grab opportunities when they arise.”

“I signed up to this challenge almost a year ago, but had kept it a secret until the final few days since a) I didn’t want the pressure and expectation from everyone building up and b) people would think I was a complete nutter to even attempt it!!!”

“The challenge itself is a very simple premise. Each of the 10 days (individual events in their own right) would be a 6 hour timed challenge. This meant you could run as little or as much as you wanted each day but as long as you completed one lap you would be classed as a finisher. This is what makes Saxons, Vikings and Normans or SVN such a great bunch of people to run with. They make the events so encompassing for everyone you feel so welcome. And coupled with the fact that so many people do amazing things, you feel almost obliged to try stuff you never normally would ever think possible. I never thought I would run a 100 miles, but did so at an SVN event a couple of years ago. And loved every single minute of it.”

“And so, onto this challenge. For me, this meant run 10 marathons in 10 days. I had run 3 marathons on consecutive days but beyond that would be into the unknown. How would my body stand up to the mileage each day? How would my mind cope with doing the same thing over and over again? How quickly or slowly should I be running?”

“The event itself was in Gravesend based out of the Cyclopark and was run over two courses. Days 1, 5, 6, 7 and 10 would be on the “177” route with days 2, 3, 4, 8 and 9 being run over the “lightning bolt” course. The 177 route was 5.25 miles in length so I needed to complete 5 laps for a marathon with the lightning bolt course slightly shorter at just over 5k. So 8 laps were needed to be completed on these days.”

“Over the past few months I had been formulating my plan for the event and decided upon sticking to my tried and trusted run / walk strategy. I knew this would at least get me to day 4 pretty much unscathed but after then, well who knows. And then came the question of how fast? There was definitely an offset between running too fast but finishing quickly with less time on your feet, versus running too slow but being out there for hours and hours. There was a sweet spot which I was hoping to find.”

“And so, day 1 started. All of the challengers wore green numbers with their names printed so we all knew who were doing all 10 days. I think maybe 20-25 people were doing this, everyone with their own goals from 10k, all the way through to 50k’s each day. Not everyone likes lapped courses but on these events it simply means you get to see the same people over and over again and say “well done” or simply say “hi” each time you pass. Super friendly and encouraging.”

“Day 1 was on the 177 course which lent itself perfectly to my run/walk strategy. It is basically an out and back tarmac course with some slopes but nothing too strenuous. It meant I could easily run/walk this first one at my own pace. The first thing that surprised me was when we got to the first hill, maybe 800m in, everyone continued running up it!!! Obviously on day 1, everyone is fresh with enthusiasm but I diligently stuck to my plan, walked up this and then continued to run when it got a bit flatter. I was pretty much at the back with literally only people walking the event behind me. Nevertheless, I decided to stick to my plan, and gradually over the ensuing laps, caught up with quite a few people, who were getting slower and slower. Imagine the hare and tortoise story and it was pretty much like this.”

“The other important thing I needed to get right was my nutrition. Not only during the race, but also before and after as well. Just doing a one off marathon, you can just about get away with being a bit dehydrated and slightly hungry towards the end, but of course, you then pay for this over the next few days as you try and repair the damage. I couldn’t make this mistake this time. If I depleted my stores too much, it would be different to replenish in just a few hours each day after the race. Probably culminating into a pretty miserable marathon towards the end.”

“My nutrition strategy started at breakfast. A glass of orange juice, a cup of coffee, a bowl of Weetabix and then maybe 2-3 croissants with marmalade. Then during the race, it was whatever was at the aid station, usually some chocolate or homemade rocky road on some laps, bananas, and then at halfway a ham or cheese sandwich. I carried a drink throughout and pretty much sipped constantly throughout the race. Little and often was the key. Indeed, it usually took me maybe 5k to finally consume my sandwich, using my run/walk strategy.”

“And then post-race, make sure I was eating something substantial soon after I had finished. Since it was really cold on the first day, I fancied some soup, so that ticked the box, along with a nice roll and finished off with some cake or something similar taken from the aid station when I had finished that particular day. And obviously a substantial evening meal which, since I was staying in an airb and b for the duration made this super easy. But possibly the hardest thing each night was getting enough fluids back into me. Again, I felt this was super important not to start the next day even slightly dehydrated.”

“So my first marathon was complete in 4.54. I was happy with that, my plan had worked perfectly and the walking meant I was using different muscle groups all day. I didn’t feel tired at all, and as everyone knows, I run to HR which means it is really easy to control the effort levels. I think this is where HR and trying to keep to a certain pace differs. The further you go into the race, the more work your body has to do to keep all your organs functioning everything so naturally it takes more effort to keep to the same pace. Running to HR means your effort stays the same, although the pace may drop ever so slightly. Those small percentages would add up to huge gains come later in the challenge, at least that’s want I reckoned anyway.”

“The other really fortunate thing was with the weather. Although very cold, when you were running you didn’t really notice it. Thankfully the wind was hardly noticeable. I think one day we had about an hours worth of rain towards the end of the race and then the last day for maybe three hours. And apart from a bit of snow one day which made the following day quite icy to start with, overall the weather was pretty much perfect given that this winter in the UK.”

“Day 2 and what would my legs feel like? Pretty good was the answer but this time we were running on the other lightning bolt course. This course has slightly more slopes than the 177 variant, and also had more single trail running. I still employed my strategy but simply used the terrain for when to run and when to walk. The other good thing about the slightly shorter course meant you got to visit the aid station 8 times as opposed to 5!!! Basically more time to eat and drink which I obviously used to good effect.”

“The next big hurdle for me would be day 4. Would I still be able to run and walk on my terms? I definitely didn’t want to be that person who trudges in to the finish feeling miserable and wondering what I was doing there. It was actually quite a strange feeling starting off each day wondering what you would feel like. Normally we are rested (a bit anyway), so know our legs / body / mind will be ok for the run.”

“But as each day passed, everything felt pretty much the same. No major aches or pains, no hunger or dehydration issues. The only thing that hurt ever so slightly was the tops of my quads toward the end of each day, which was not really surprisingly given what I was asking them to do!!!”

“And then, without really knowing it, we were on day 10. As I stood on the start line, this was perhaps the most nervous I had been for any of the days. There was still the small matter of running 26.2 miles and as we know anything can go wrong. I didn’t want to get this far and fall at the final hurdle. So as we set off, again, I stuck to my plan, although maybe running slightly quicker than on previous days, my HR wasn’t telling me I was overly stressed. I had said to myself, when I get the final lap, maybe give a bit of go. When it came to it, I was still really comfortable so chickened out and simply continued what I was doing. It was only on the final 2-3 miles, where I ran a bit harder, with the adrenaline kicking in, and everyone you passed coming the other way congratulating you. I have to say it was pretty special. The culmination of the 10 days, you really do start to form bonds with everyone since we all know what we have put ourselves through to get to this point.”

“But I guess the most pleasing thing was my times each day. I wasn’t flip flopping between quick and slow, but keeping a pretty consistent pace. I wasn’t feeling tired or lethargic in the evenings. Basically every run was really enjoyable and good fun. Exactly what I wanted.”

“Would I do another? Probably not, since what I have got to prove? The only thing that would be different would be to chase times which for me, takes the fun and enjoyment out of the events. But back-to-back marathons / 50k’s over weekends - most definitely. I reckon this is the best way to build strength and endurance for any long events with the benefit being the recovery is relatively short. Going too long in one effort means the body takes longer to recover and therefore any gains are negligible over the following weeks. Consistency as always trumps everything.”

“But most importantly, I wanted to leave the challenge with some great memories. I can safely say I definitely achieved that.”

Day 1 – 4.54.18

Day 2 – 4.52.48

Day 3 – 4.56.55

Day 4 – 4.55.36

Day 5 – 4.49.56

Day 6 – 4.51.18

Day 7 – 4.48.26

Day 8 – 4.44.46

Day 9 – 4.42.48

Day 10 – 4.31.51

Average Time across 10 days – 4.48.52

Thanks for your brilliant write up Martin. There’s surely nothing to add other than congratulations on a spectacular achievement.

3rd December, Space Cowboy Challenge – Pluto, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Andrew Corrigan (Unattached) 5.46.23 – 31.5 miles

8 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.31.51 – 26.2 miles

48 finished

2nd December, Space Cowboy Challenge – Mercury, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Paul Mason (Unattached) 5.35.50 – 32.8 miles

14 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.42.48 - 26.2 miles

57 finished

1st December, Space Cowboy Challenge - Uranus, 6 hours timed, trail

1 James Patterson (Unattached) 5.26.40 – 31.1 miles

11 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.44.46 – 26.2 miles

34 finished

30th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Saturn, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Andrew Corrigan (Unattached) 5.25.56 – 31.5 miles

12 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.48.26 – 26.2 miles

36 finished

29th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Jupiter, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Andrew Corrigan (Unattached) 5.31.01 – 31.5 miles

9 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.51.18 – 26.2 miles

36 finished

28th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Mars, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Alex Marshall (Unattached) 6.29.02 – 42 miles

13 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.49.56 – 26.2 miles

37 finished

27th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Moon, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Alex Marshall (Unattached) 6.10.41 – 39.3 miles

17 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.55.36 - 26.2 miles

39 finished

26th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Earth, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Alex Marshall (Unattached) 6.09.28 – 39.3 miles

13 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.56.55 – 26.2 miles

54 finished

25th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Venus, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Alex Marshall (Unattached) 6.06.55 – 39.3 miles

20 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.52.48 – 26.2 miles

69 finished

24th November, Space Cowboy Challenge – Mercury, 6 hours timed, trail

1 Alex Marshall (Unattached) 6.12.56 – 42 miles

19 Martin Croucher (Cirencester AC) 4.54.18 – 26.25 miles

43 finished

Meanwhile Jos Randall enjoyed a scenic trail run at the Mapledurham 10k in the Berkshire countryside at the weekend

3rd December, Mapledurham 10k, 10k, road

1 James Cobb (Unattached) 39.09 (39.08)

97 Jocelyn Randall (Cirencester AC) 1.05.36 (1.05.25)

198 finished

You can check out individual parkrun websites to look at results in more detail, but this weekend it was a close race between Gordon Jones and Alan McAdam at Lydiard with Rachel McAdam finishing just half a minute later. Ian Barrett won at Wotton and there was a fine run from Luke Buck at Didcot.

There was a really good CAC showing at Cirencester with Brian Harris first home closely followed by James Widdowson, pleased with 1st in his brand new V50 age group.

2nd December, parkrun, 5k trail

Lydiard parkrun

1 Gabriel Dellar 16.49

86 Gordon Jones (Cirencester AC) 26.21

87 Alan McAdam 26.28

98 Rachel McAdam 27.00

257 finished

Wotton parkrun

1 Ian Barrett (Cirencester AC) 19.52

41 finished

Didcot parkrun

1 Arnold Weston 19.39

23 Luke Buck (Cirencester AC) 22.55

176 finished

Cirencester parkrun

1 Tom Hunton 18.20

21 Brian Harris (Cirencester AC) 22.51

22 James Widdowson 23.01

31 Paul Timms 24.04

56 Rachel Ranger 26.36

59 Tom Morgan 27.01

66 Sophie Humphries 27.40

81 Brendan McCarthy 29.08

104 Samantha Timms 31.35

113 Amanda Naylor 32.21

130 Lorna Harris 33.58

162 finished

Results to Martin at and if you have any words or pictures to add please send them to Rachel at or via WhatsApp

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1 Comment

Absolutely awesome Martin. You are a legend. Congratulations 👏

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