The loneliness of the long distance runner! All in a very good cause Ollie’s taking on a 103 mile challenge like no other

Ollie’s raising money for MacMillian Cancer Support and the Beachy Head Chaplaincy team

Ollie Goulden hasn’t always enjoyed running but these days it’s a big part of his life and not just a gentle jog either… no, this 31-year-old personal trainer is into serious running, entering events called ultras; runs that can cover 100 miles or more.

Keep on running!

Next month the former William Parker pupil is doing something very special, something that will not just test his physical capabilities but will put his mental strength to the test too. On March 7th he’ll be running the Beachy Head marathon course. He’ll be on his own and he aims to complete the course not just once but four times in 24 hours. In the process he’ll clock up a jaw dropping 103 miles.

He’s not just undertaking the run for fun, he hopes to raise a lot of money in the process, cash that will go to MacMillian Cancer Support and to the Beachy Head Chaplaincy team.

The run is very special to Ollie. He’s completing it in memory of his step-dad Tom Duffy who died in October 2018 from bowel and lung cancer. From Tom’s diagnosis until he died was just four months and Ollie has chosen to run one lap of the marathon course for each month that Tom, a well known Hastings accountant, survived beyond his diagnosis.

The route of the Beachy Head Marathon – Ollie’s goal is to complete the route four times.

“It’s going to be really hard but no matter how tough it gets I won’t be in as much pain doing this run as Tom was at the end of his life,” says Ollie.

He got in to long distance running back in 2015 when he took part in a 100 kilometre run for charity in memory of his wife Ashleigh’s grandmother. He says the challenge of these long distance events is finding out where your own limitations are and at times he has found exactly where his limits are.

Last year he landed himself in hospital while running in the top 20 of a prestigious ultra in the midlands.

“I was pushing on and felt I was doing well and I think I ignored the fact I needed to eat and drink more. I was in the top 20 and I wanted to stay there,” says Ollie.

When you find your limits! Dehydrated and exhausted Ollie had to pull out of an event last year and was taken to hospital.

During these gruelling events he has a support team. On that occasion he had a friend who would meet up with him every seven miles and who would try and make sure Ollie was taking in the right nutrition and fluids and Ollie acknowledges that on that occasion he was too focussed on position and didn’t listen to his friend’s advice.

While he has tasted disappointment he has experienced great success too, although even when he has done well he still wants more.

On a 105 mile run he did last year he said that at the end he felt a sense of ‘anguish and anger’ because he knew he could have done better; he’d finished the course in 29 hours but felt he should have been capable of having completed the run in around 24. However he had sustained an injury towards the end of the event and had had to nurse that throughout the final nine miles of the course.

The loneliness of the long distance runner.

In an average week’s training Ollie will clock up 40 to 60 miles, and that’s in addition to running that he will do alongside his clients. He pays tribute to his wife for the support that she gives him in his training for, and competing in, a sport that has come to take over their lives.

Running ultras is very different to running marathons. Ollie explains there can be long periods where you are entirely on your own with no other competitors around you and the very nature of the courses and their length means there are rarely spectators watching and cheering you on. It’s in those periods of isolation where mental toughness is required to stay motivated Ollie says.

Making it through the night. Ultras take their competitors to some pretty dark places.

For his Beachy Head epic that loneliness will be compounded because he will be the ONLY competitor. He hopes that some of his personal training clients and fellow runners will join him for sections of course but he recognises that for large chunks of time, and especially during the night, he will be on his own, with his friends who make up his volunteer support crew meeting him at designated times and places with food and water.

Ollie, who was born and brought up in Hastings, now lives in Eastbourne and knows the Beachy Head course well. He says he chose it for this event because it is an ‘iconic’ marathon course which he reckons is one of the toughest in the UK. He’s the first person ever to tackle four laps of the course.

Given the nature of the terrain he’ll be faced with a lot of hills. By the end of the four laps he will have climbed 14,000 feet, equivalent to being almost at the midway point of Everest.

He’s been training hard and will give it his all in memory of a man who was very special to him and whose memory he says it’s important to honour.

If you’d like to support Ollie and help him raise money for two very important charities then follow the link below.

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