(C) London Marathon, press conference for Flora 1000 Mile Challenge, December 2002
(C) London Marathon, press conference for Flora 1000 Mile Challenge, December 2002


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December 06

Darren Cooper, Sports Therapist at the University of Teesside took a look at my left Achilles after pulling out of the Wensleydale Wedge at the end of November with a stiff Achilles that was reluctant to warm up. It has been niggling me a little and with the major challenges of next year felt it better to get it checked out now rather than continue running on it and have problems when more important races are looming. It is not as bad as my right Achilles from earlier in the year and after having a scan by Sports Medicine Doctor Martyn Speight in Otley a couple of small areas of degeneration have been identified. I will now be taking a month off for rehabilitation to ensure it will be strong enough for next years races. It is thought that having two weeks off after LEJOG probably shortened the Achilles and my return to long runs has caused the problem.

Other news for this month was the phone call from Jack Adams of the Lands End to John O’Groats Association who confirmed that after nominating me for the The "Charlie" Hankins Memorial Trophy (Awarded to the person, or persons who in the opinion of the Committee displays courage, fortitude and determination while completing a journey between Lands End and John O'Groats or vice versa by whatoever means) I will now be awarded this trophy on January 20 th 2007 at a dinner in Torquay.

November 06
I have run the Kilburn Kanter and Burley Bridge Hike in very similar times to previous years and so confident that there are no adverse problems as a result of LEJOG. My left Achilles is beginning to niggle again after a quiet period and am hoping it will not get worse, I may take a few weeks out to give it time to strengthen and Rotherham 50 may now be in doubt.

I dropped out of a 5km race at Guisborough due to asthma after a good spell with no breathing problems, had not anticipated this but my bedroom had just been painted (Bill was getting bored on the sick and very mobile now so had to give him some work to do) and put this down to breathing in the paint odour for three days.

I have started plans for next year and looks very likely to be Libyan Challenge 190km in March, Tipton 12 hours track race in May, World 23 Hours in Canada in July and the Spartathlon in September.

Other good news to report is the invitation to three local sports awards, the Local Heroes one for the Northern Echo on 30th November, the North East Sports Awards by Sport England and the BBC on 3rd December and the Evening Gazette Sports Awards on 11th December. I am really looking forward to all three and getting more excited about these than I was for finishing LEJOG, hopefully my new World Record will be rewarded and feel the glory I should have felt at the finish of my event. Running Fitness have done a good double page spread on LEJOG based on the shoes I tested for them (they did quite a few miles as you will see) and MyRace, a running magazine for Scotland (you can get a copy at www.myRace.co.uk) also did a good double page spread based on an interview conducted over 500 miles into LEJOG. I am still awaiting Guinness World Records to verify the record at present, they appear to be working well behind their 4 week schedule anticipated to get the response, but am happy the paperwork is more than adequate for their requirements.

October 06

I started running at the beginning of the month and felt nothing as a result of my long run, quad is completely healed now and have really enjoyed getting back to weekly racing again. I have deliberately kept the mileage down at present but have three races above 20 miles on three weekends I am looking forward to in November and have entered the Rotherham 50 in December. Bill is recovering very well after his second hip replacement after an initial very sick period after the operation.

September 06

As you will all have read by now by LEJOG World Record Attempt was very successful and took over 17 hours off the world record, finishing the 837 miles in 12 days 16 hours and 23 minutes. I still feel as though the whole event has not sunk in, I expected to be feeling on a high for many weeks after but this has yet to happen, initially the tiredness and sore feet took over and was just in recovery mode. Its a couple of weeks since finishing now and the tiredness has gone, my feet are probably just a bit sensitive as opposed to tender now, I did go out for a half hour run on Friday, exactly two weeks after finishing and the legs are fine. Still going to try to take it easy (TRY!!). I am itching to get running again but will keep the mileage down.

The paperwork is almost complete to send off and will be recognised with an official certificate after verification has taken place. Many thanks go to the local media for covering the event, in particular the Evening Gazette and Northern Echo, ITV Tyne Tees done a wonderful job too. At present I am just finishing off my own diary of the event which will be put on my website shortly as will many of the photographs taken on route (many taken by crew member Alan Young). The crew did a wonderful job in looking after me and although it was me who had to do the running, this could not have been achieved without such a world class crew so my thanks go to them for giving up their free time to be part of this event.

My van has now had ATTEMPT struck through and HOLDER written on courtesy of GT Graphics and will use the van until the end of the year before getting the livery removed - may be it will help me to recognise what I have achieved. One last comment is that the date for Bill's left hip replacement has come through on 9th October, his right hip replacement last year was a massive success and hoping that he will have lot more mobility once he has recovered from this.

Thanks go to all you people out there that sponsored me, although it appears many of you do not like to give through justgiving.com I have had some generous donations sent in cards by friends who know my address, with particular thanks to Redcar Running Club, Pam and Mike Atkins, Gerry Orchard and Julie Bushell, Ella Towers family Ann, Robin and Holly, Ian Johnson (mechanic), Lynda and Trevor Russell (and friends), Paul and Debbie Hoskin, Peter Braney, Ronnie Sherwood to name just a few. The total is getting near to £1500 now.

August 06

Well the big day is nearly here, the press coverage is non-stop, newspapers, radio and even ITV have done a programme (see latest media coverage). I did my last two marathons runs in the first two weeks of August, just steady runs in the Walden, first lady, second overall and the Hanging Stone Leap that starts on my doorstep at Guisborough, first lady and sixth overall. The last three weeks no long runs, just a few short races and absolutely no race the last weekend, that’s hard by my standards!!

My van is now brightly coloured and sponsor money even being handed to be in the street by total strangers, what a response!! A lot of councillors seem to have their work cut out for this, it is hoped that councillor Dennis Axford will start the event at Lands End, various councillors may run part of the event with me, including Willie Rennie, as asthmatic runner just north of Edinburgh. John Green has the job of official finisher (at may be an unsocial hour) at John O’Groats. Mike Amos from the Northern Echo may even be able to make the long trek north to witness the world record.

As for me, I am not sure whether it is nerves or excitement, this event has been so long in the planning, postponed from July and is finally here. As much as I am really looking forward to this I know it is going to be a long painful event. I cannot predict what will happen, it is into the unknown. People ask me what pace will you be running? I have a schedule but how do I know that I will stick to it – I have never done it before. Many people are comparing it to the Flora 1000 Miles, there is no comparison, this is far, far harder – three times the daily distance with around the same amount of sleep – 5 hours.

I have updated the schedule again and combined the route with it so it is easier to track my progress. The times are also going to change after the first day, in July I was blessed with long daylight hours, now the darkness is creeping in earlier and earlier. As a result of this my daily schedule will start an hour earlier at 6am, this means I should finish the third block of running in daylight at 8pm and just have the last block to run in darkness.

It now remains for me to say enjoy following my progress, please make this effort worth my while by sponsoring me at www.justgiving.com/sharongayter for Asthma UK. Many of you out there have probably witnessed me falling by the wayside while having an asthma attack in races, there has never been a single year that it has not affected my running or racing, I need to keep motivated and know there is someone out there that will benefit from all this pain I will go through, thanks for all the words of support and hopefully they will be fulfilled by a new WORLD RECORD.

More information on the LEJOG page.

July 06

The trial has been completed and the WORLD RECORD ATTEMPT from Lands End to John O’Groats is starting at 07:00 on Sunday 3rd September 2006. It’s been a very hard decision after sustaining an Achilles injury earlier in the year but after a very hard four weeks of training the decision is made.

At 7am on a very wet Sunday 9th July I set off from Moffat on a trial run for LEJOG. The plan was to practice the running strategy of four hours of running followed by a one hour break and cover approximately 20 miles in the four hours. After four blocks of running I was to get 5 hours sleep from 02:00 until 07:00. This routine of running worked very, very well. It was nice just to think about the four hours I was running and not the real frightening distance of 837 miles, but it did feel like a very long day.

What I found didn’t work well was my eating strategy, I thought after four hours of running I would take on a significant meal, this didn’t happen and was only able to eat half a bowl of pasta or rice and was unable to eat a meal before going to bed. I soon learnt that I would have to eat during the running segment and put this into practice and this worked well.

The first day of the trial took in a long climb out of Moffat on the A701. After the first 20 miles I was initially surprised at how tired I felt, I expected to feel reasonably fresh, but a look at the last few weeks of training was the reason behind this, it had only been two weeks since the Verdon Canyon Challenge, which had taken far longer than expected and the week after had run the Osmotherley Phoenix marathon and had felt very tired towards the end of the race, so in general was not recovered enough to tackle another long event. But this was not about times or distances it was about practicing the routine.

The next day I was very stiff to start with and after walking for half an hour tried running, it wasn’t so bad and soon got into the routine again. It also became obvious that my plans of 80 miles a day for the first 4 days were not realistic and so have adjusted the schedule accordingly, but the plan is still for a 12 day finish to allow over a day for any problems I may encounter.

After the trial we took the ferry from John O’Groats to Orkney and had a few days cycling the islands and visiting ultra friend William Sichel who lives on Sanday.
Back home now and although the trial was a great success it has knocked me back into reality. This is a world record attempt and they don’t come easy, it is going to be far harder then expected (not that I expected it to be easy), but the time is right and although I am probably a lot more fearful of the event now I know there is a chance of failure, but if I don’t go for it now I probably never will. The LEJOG page should be updated with the final plans now and the schedule I am planning.

One final piece of news for the month, I got selected to compete for Great Britain in the World 100km in Korea in October, part of the conditions for selection are that I cannot run an ultra race within 8 weeks of the event, LEJOG has now forced me to withdraw from the event (rightly so on this occasion as I don’t think my recovery would be that good after just three weeks!). I had left my name in for selection just in case I was unable to run LEJOG and had another race to aim at.

June 06

This was a great month, finally got back to some real running and by the end of the month the Achilles feels completely better, not even stiff in the morning now. I started short distance running towards the end of May and started racing again in June, an off-road half marathon, 10 miles at Thirsk and a 5km and 10km race.

After Laurent Locke invited me to run the Verdon Canyon stage race in France I found it hard to say no even though my longest run prior to flying out was just 2 hours 15 minutes. This event was 120km over 4 days with 7000m of climbing and very hot conditions. The first day was a night prologue of 10km, followed by 25km that took over 4 hours, for the next 45km race the temperature was 37 degrees and took a staggering 9 hours to complete, by the last day of 35km the field was reduced significantly and took over 6 hours. I was out a lot longer than anticipated but the terrain itself was very difficult to run over, very rocky in places, considering my lack of training prior to this race I was satisfied to finish 6th overall and second lady. The first lady was training for the Tour du Mont Blanc race, I was also happy to finish in front of one of the French 24 hour international athletes. This was very good training for my LEJOG record attempt and am now preparing for the 4 day trial which will start on 9th July and run from Moffat to John O Groats, some 300 miles in 4 days.

A full report can be downloaded here: Verdon Trail Adventure report, and the official website is www.aeria.fr for those interested in taking part next year, on the Friday there are also one day races of 20km, 40km, 60km and 80km, but do bear in mind how long these races took me, they are very deceptive in distance and take far longer than expected.

Achilles is a very common injury among runners and one that I have always dreaded as I know it can take a long time to heal. I feel I have been very lucky in that this has only taken 10 weeks off my running (although that was a very long hard 10 weeks), but has disrupted my planned year. The key exercises to rehabilitation were eccentric stretching on a step done religiously morning and night, gradually building up to three sets of 25 and then adding a back pack with weights, which was continually added to once comfortable with each weight. In addition to this I purchased a small ultrasound device from www.MendMeShop.com that I used for 5 minutes twice a day (Bill also used this on his thumb which has been injured for some time and got better). I was also taking a product from Neovite.com that was supposed to help recovery.

May 06

The ultrasound scan on 2nd May revealed 0.7cm diameter of Achilles Tendinosis, some two months after the injury occurred. The worst is now behind me and am just about resuming running again. I should be back to racing again by June.

Although fitness should be good by July I have now run out of time to do a 4 day trial on LEJOG which is a vital part of my preparation, physically, mentally and practically and therefore am setting the date of the record attempt to 3rd September 2006. This is not just a run but a record attempt and need everything to be in place to be 100% confident of success. Another couple of months will give me the time needed to practice the schedule set out and overcome any problems that may be encountered.

The other bit of good news for me is the new selection criteria for the World 24 Hours next year in Canada, to my amazement it has already been announced some 14 months in advance of the event which gives athletes time to achieve the criteria (unlike the 4 weeks given last year). The individual A standard for women has been reduced by just 1km to 214km, which, although fantastic new for me (my performance equivalent to 6th place in the World 24 Hours in Taiwan was 214.5km), but not good news for other women aiming at selection. The team B standard remains at 195km. The time scale for achieving these distances will date from 1st January 2006 and so my performance will still count as there is little chance I will run another 24 hour race this year due to other commitments (namely LEJOG).

Once last bit of news is that any of you that read my report from Taiwan would have read of my disappointment at being presented with a trophy at the World 24 Hour in Taiwan for winning the open race only for it to be withdrawn as there were not enough trophies to take home. Well a superb engraved glass stand with a revolving glass globe arrived this week and now takes pride of place in my trophy cabinet (as opposed to being put on a shelf in the garage!!).

April 06

Initially my recovery from the 24 hours in Taiwan went well, I was just left with a little stiffness at the back of my lower right leg. Two weeks after the 24 hours I had a slow run around the Redcar ½ Marathon on a bitterly cold day where the temperature did not rise above freezing. I was satisfied with 1 hour 39 minutes and although the calf was tight for the first 3-4 miles it eased off and had no problems with it for the rest of the race. Snow hampered the following weeks training and my treadmill also refused to work.

However the problem did get worse and the tendon was very tender to touch although not too painful to run on. After a week of rest it was only marginally improved and so sought the advice of Sports Therapist Darren Cooper at the University of Teesside. I was worried as just three weeks after the Redcar ½ I was supposed to be running for England in the Anglo-Celtic Plate 100km with a rather late call up. Darren initially thought I would be able to run no problem, as indeed I thought so myself but was just playing safe. But the injury did not go according to plan and was being very stubborn to improve. The risk was to run the 100km, which it was thought I should get around ok but the tendon would be worse as a result of running this. It was a hard decision but in the end played it wisely and withdrew from the race to preserve the tendon for the future runs for the year.

It is now nearing the end of April, I am still not running and awaiting an ultra sound scan on 2nd May to determine the extent of the injury. I feel this is such a small area of injury I cannot believe how time has passed since I last ran. I have been keeping fit in the gym with cycling, rowing and weights but am getting extremely depressed at not running now the better weather has arrived and have now withdrawn from the Hull 24 hours in May, a race where I had planned to get a pb for 24 hours with having such a good run in Taiwan under hard conditions on a tough course, a local track race with no corners, full support and no travelling should have been perfect for a good run.

The time off running has given me the opportunity to spend time going over the entire route from Lands End to John O’Groats, detailing parking areas on the maps and finding cycle routes to avoid some city centres and busy roads. The route has now been measured at 837 miles.

Taiwan 2006 raceMarch 06

After a quick trip to Taiwan to compete in the open race of the World 24 hours I am happy to report that I won the open race with 214.5km and this would have placed me 6th in the World 24 hours. It was a very emotional race without having the support of my husband Bill and had to make a call home half way through the race as I got so upset and lost a lot of time, but it was worth the call as I got back out and finished strongly.

Download Taiwan Report:
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February 06

Well it is now the day before I travel to Taiwan for the World 24 Hours, everything is in place and as much as I am looking forward to the trip I am dreading it. I am not looking forward to the long journey and now the map of the race has been published this is also bad news. There are many twists and turns and route is getting shorter, just 700m now, the weather so far predicted is rain for the entire trip with 19ºC as the high.

Training had been going incredibly well until the beginning of February (just 3 weeks before Taiwan) when I twisted my ankle at the start of the Rombalds Stride 25 miles and was forced to withdraw. I only did a couple of short easy runs that week while the swelling and bruising subsided. Running the Draycote Water 35 very easily the following week gave me the confidence that it would recover in time for Taiwan.

The trip is only a short one, travelling out on Wednesday, arriving Thursday, race is Saturday to Sunday and hope to be home by Monday night. You may be able to follow my progress on the official website (www.iau.org.tw/), but be aware that as I am in the open race and not competing for Great Britain that my results may be listed separately.

January 06

This month started as well as the last month finished, a quick short burst up Captain Cooks on New Years Day where I recorded my fastest time for this course, the following week was an 18 miler called Stape Heartbeat, which I was easily the first lady and the following week I was the first lady back for the mixed pair trophy with Neil Risdale in the Tandem 28 miles. Following that was a half marathon in bitterly cold conditions which affected my breathing and was satisfied to finish still running with 1 hour 36 mins, my breathing usually brings me to an abrupt halt and walking.

The planning for Land's End to John O'Groats Record Attempt has started and although I have adequate support for the second week of my record attempt ideally I would like another couple of supporters for the first week beginning 2nd July - so any helpers please get in contact. There will be a page dedicated to this on the website so you can track my progress and the planning and route will be added shortly.

Preparation is going well for the World 24 Hours in Taiwan next month and have already run a couple of training sessions in the Environmental Chamber at the University of Teesside to acclimatise to the heat and humidity anticipated in Taipei.

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