(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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Flora 1,000-mile Challenge: Strain starting to tell
Daily Telegraph 07/03/03 By By Gareth A Davies

The six competitors attempting to complete the Flora 1,000-mile Challenge - one mile every hour, day and night, for 1,000 hours - reached the 100-mile mark yesterday evening, but within the camp there is already the feeling that it will take a monumental effort for any of them to finish.

The endurance race will end on Blackheath Common at 8am on Sunday April 13, when the six, Paul Selby, David Lake, Lloyd Scott, Rory Coleman, Sharon Gayter and Shona Crombie-Hicks, if they are still standing, will attempt to complete the Flora London Marathon. Medical experts have predicted the strain of running a mile every hour will cause delusion and mental exhaustion, mainly through sleep deprivation. It already appears that Selby will be proved correct in his prediction that the competitors will drop out one by one.

So far, the two female competitors have proved quicker and more adaptable through the twilight hours, although Gayter, ranked England women's No 1 ultra-distance runner since 1994, set off in the wrong direction at 5.45 on Wednesday morning on Blackheath Common, which would have brought her disqualification had it not been for an alert early morning dog-walker informing her that he had seen a group of people in bibs heading in the opposite direction.

Flagging spirits have been kept up by favourite eating spots, such as a pie-and-mash shop near the Cutty Sark, which they pass with regularity every 26 hours. The runners were visited on Shrove Tuesday by a chef who will toss pancakes for the length of the Flora London Marathon, and on Monday, EastEnders actress Lucy Benjamin, who is running the marathon, will join them for one mile.

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