(C) Jeremy Hemming, press conference for Flora 1000 Mile Challenge at the Tower, London (November 2002)
(C) Jeremy Hemming, press conference for Flora 1000 Mile Challenge at the Tower, London (November 2002)


Sharon is all set for 1,000 mile challenge
Evening Gazette 13/11/02 By Eric Paylor

Teesside's Sharon Gayter, Britain's No.1 women's ultra-distance runner, goes into unknown territory in the Flora 1,000 Mile Challenge next year.

The 39-year-old Guisborough athlete has been pre-selected for the epic event, which asks six competitors to run the 1,000 miles at no more than one mile in every hour, spreading the race over six weeks.

It means Sharon's sleep patterns will be wrecked during the event - which is being described as the toughest endurance race ever staged in this country.

Sharon, who has taken a year off from her work as a sports science lecturer at Middlesbrough College in order to build up to the event, stressed: "I haven't got a clue if I will be able to deal with it."

Sharon and her race-mates, who are still to be selected, will live in a London bus for the six weeks, where they will eat and drink, shower, and try to grab snatches of sleep.

She said: "I really don't know what to expect, nor how I will manage on the bus.

"The running won't be a problem. I run 20 miles a day anyway.

"But when you can run only one mile in every hour, it's going to be difficult to fit your sleep around it.

"You can run your mile at the end of one hour, and then the next mile back to back at the start of the next hour, but the most sleep you will get will be one and a half hours at any one time.

"Then you have to contend with the other people on the bus running up and down the stairs, having showers and cooking food."

There's a big financial inducement for Sharon. She could earn a maximum of £11,000 if she completes the course and then finishes as first runner in the Flora London Marathon - which concludes the 1,000 miles event on April 13.

But it's going to be mighty tough.

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