Imagine running 100k in a day. Well, seasoned parkrunner Harriet Frost did more than imagine it; she completed the mammoth distance in just 14 hours as part of our Running Down Dementia challenge!
The run, which saw Harriet tackle 100k across the North Wessex Downs in Oxfordshire from Lewknor to the Thames crossing at Goring, was in honour of her grandma, Eileen, who sadly died with dementia just this month.
Harriet, who has travelled the world completing parkruns, said: “When I signed up to do the Race to the Stones 100k ultramarathon only three months ago I just saw it as my next challenge. I had not intended to raise money, but days away from my race we sadly lost my grandma to dementia. The timing of seeing Alzheimer’s Research UK’s Running Down Dementia campaign seemed a little too close to home to not try and do something to help, so that fewer people in the future have to experience this horrible condition.
“My grandma would have made her 91st Birthday this Thursday, had she not lost her battle to vascular dementia on Sunday 9 July. She was a strongly independent woman, bringing up four children singlehandedly after being sadly widowed. I can definitely vouch for her passing down some fiercely tough, gritty genes. Her eldest daughter, my mother, had two double hip replacements and last year spent her 60th year competing in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Australia, a gruelling 70.3 mile triathlon.
“Following in my mum and grandma’s footsteps has led me to want to push the boundaries, prove you can always do more and go above and beyond what you initially think possible. My mum set the running bar high with her numerous London Marathon ‘good for age’ times, so I decided to skip the marathon and go straight for two-and-a-half times the distance with my 100k this month.
“I still think the first 5k is the hardest, to accomplish on its own and on any run. For that reason, I can’t sing the praises of parkrun enough and what it’s done for running, runners and ‘non-runners’.
“I have now been lucky enough to do parkruns in Australia, New Zealand, London, Devon and my home run in Cornwall, Lanhydrock. I love everything parkrun is about – the community feel, bringing people together weekly, not to mention the fact it is free. I love the way it’s all about challenging yourself, bettering yourself, and that’s what running should be about, whether it’s 5k or 100k – it’s your own journey.
“My 100k journey started as a very individual challenge but couldn’t have ended without the support of so many unexpected, amazing people. Step-by-step support with words of encouragement before, during and after my long 14-hour-and-four-minute journey, heartfelt messages on my t-shirt to help me through the day and the donations to Alzheimer’s Research to help the much bigger journey. My mum and I are so lucky to share our passion for these challenges and keep ourselves active physically and consequently mentally. My 100kk run was tough but life is tough sometimes and I got through it with a few tears, hugs from my mum throughout, and the thought of my grandma. And so, I left with a smile on my face at the end.”
Harriet has already raised a wonderful £640 so far, and you can still donate to her fundraising page.
If you’ve been inspired by Harriet’s story, why not take on your own challenge? It’s not too late to start Running Down Dementia, just go to www.runningdowndementia.org to sign up and challenge yourself to run 100km before 31 October.
Picture credit: Race to the Stones
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