After 12 days of running Sharon Gayter finally reached the iconic signpost at Land’s End yesterday evening. Her time of 12 days, 11 hours and 6 minutes broke the previous world record of 12 days, 15 hours and 46 minutes, set in 2008.
With a record like JOGLE, which involves 822 miles of running with 33,000 feet of ascent, it’s never going to be easy and the conditions threw up some extra challenges for Sharon. She endured the heatwave (including the hottest day ever recorded in the UK!) and the heavy rain and storms. You can prepare for heat and bad weather, but I’m not sure that you can ever prepare for extremes like that.
Another particular challenge of JOGLE is that it involves running on the hard shoulder of some very busy roads to get the most direct route. This must be a pretty unpleasant experience at any time, but when you’re exhausted and hurting it’s probably pretty scary. Add in huge amounts of holiday traffic and this must have added another dimension to the record attempt.
Sharon also had very little sleep during the challenge. For the first 7 days she only had around 3 hours sleep per night. Then, as the sleep deprivation really hit, she found it hard to sleep at all.
The plan was to cover around 70 miles per day, to try to get under 12 days for the challenge. However, some days the exhaustion forced her to stop slightly early and it looked like things might be very close with the record. But astoundingly, Sharon seemed to pick up again towards the end. On day 12 she found herself with 75 miles with 35 hours to do it and she chased down those miles doggedly. It was really inspiring, and just a little bit addictive, watching her dot move through Cornwall.
She had the support of a fantastic crew along the way, including legend of ultra running Eleanor Robinson and her husband, Bill. Eleanor is a true pioneer of ultra running, having won the first Badwater in 1987 and pushing boundaries of female endurance in 24 hour and 6 day racing. She has held around 40 world records, including the record for 1000 miles. Having inspiring people like Eleanor around her must have been a big help.
This wasn’t Sharon’s first time at the JOGLE rodeo. She actually held the world record before Mimi. In 2006 she JOGLED in 12 days and 16 hours, but she only managed to hold it for 2 years before Mimi shaved an hour off it.
In addition to the JOGLE record Sharon still holds the women’s world record for 7 days on a treadmill (517 miles) and has held the 12 hour treadmill record and the 6 day road record, among many others. Sharon has represented GB at the 100k and 24 hour distance, and she’s also completed (and often won) races such as La Ultra – the High in the Himalayas (the world’s highest race), Badwater and Grand to Grand. She has completed over 186 ultras. She also done many 7 marathons in 7 days and 10 marathons in 10 days races. So it’s fair to say that Sharon isn’t a stranger to a big running challenge and world records.
It’s worth noting that Sharon is, I think, 55. Experience, endurance and mental strength surely play a big part in huge challenges like this. For most of us it’s hard to imagine how you can keep running for days after you’ve exhausted all of your physical reserves, but all of Sharon’s achievements show that her mental strength is pretty incredible.
You can still donate to Sharon’s chosen charity of Mind HERE.
Find out more about Sharon Gayter HERE.