(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)

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'I'm glad it's over!'

Evening Gazette 15/04/03 by Eric Paylor

Sharon Gayter today revealed her "relief and disappointment" as she concentrated on settling back to normality following the Flora 1,000 Miles Challenge.

The Guisborough ultra athlete had to settle for second place in the gruelling Challenge, which involved running or walking 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours, followed immediately by the London Marathon.

The winner of the Challenge was the competitor who finished best in the marathon, and Sharon had to settle for second place.

She said: "I'm glad it's all over, but I'm really disappointed I didn't win it. I never enter anything looking for second best.

"But I did my best. My target for the marathon was three hours 40 minutes and I did it in 3:34."

The winner was Londoner Shona Crombie-Hicks, who came home in 3:08.

Sharon said: "We always knew that Shona was the fastest marathon runner among us, but she had been suffering from Achilles trouble and we wondered whether this would affect her performance on the day.

"But Shona blasted away from the start and, all credit to her, she did well."

Sharon's compensation for second place is a fee of £8,000, which will kick off her battle to raise cash for a support van for future runs.

She said: "To be honest the Challenge was much easier than I had imagined. The more difficult it was going to be, the more it would play into my hands.

"But it was relatively easy to adapt, once I recovered from the asthma which troubled me in the first two-and-a-half weeks."

Sharon added: "We were walking most of the miles early on, and I realised that I was losing the strength in the muscles in my legs.

"In fact I didn't have half the strength in my legs that I really needed for the marathon, so the time was very good under the circumstances."

Would Sharon do it all over again?

"Not likely. I've no regrets, but it was a challenge and now I've done it.

"I'll look for a different challenge next time."

Now the problem for Sharon is to try to resume a normal life, and normal sleep patterns.

She said: "I thought I would sleep like a log when it was all over, but in fact I've just tossed and turned.

"It'll take a while to get used to sleeping all night again."

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