1. Tell us about your 2015 Team Drea challenge:
My 2015 Team Drea Challenge was called LauranDoes179. It included 15 races all over the UK (where I live) and abroad and covered 179 miles. I did this in honour of Andrea’s lucky number and Jon Blais’ Kona Ironman bib number to help raise money for the Blazeman Foundation for ALS research.
I ran every kind of race imaginable. I ran a marathon with wine stops in France dressed as a princess. I ran a fun run where I was pelted with colored dust (I think there is still some lodged up my nose).
I ran in the snow, the rain, the sunshine, in a monkey costume, and heart wrenchingly beautiful scenery. I ran whilst sick and kept running after vomiting and crying in front of a startled small child. I ran strongly and I ran poorly, I ran injured and well, and I still only have 8 toenails.
In the end, my incredible friends, family, colleagues, and even a few strangers helped me raise over $4,000 for ALS research. I am beyond humbled at everyone’s generosity.
2. What was your hardest race? Your most fun race?
My hardest race was the final race of the LauranDoes179 Challenge – the Snowdonia Marathon in Wales. Some people claim this is the hardest road race in the UK due to the protracted, multi-mile climbs with inclines of 10% plus. I was coming off a year of non-stop training, had injured my ankle, and was bone tired mentally and physically by that stage.
Suffice to say, when I stood at the start line with the hills ahead of me and cold rain sluicing off my poncho, I was more than a little terrified. But when that hooter sounded and I trotted over the start line something just shifted in me and I literally smiled like an idiot the whole way round. Yes, it was bloody tough but my god I was doing it. I was finishing my challenge and basking in the admiration I felt for Andrea and all she has accomplished and enjoying every slice of humanity around me. I felt something that day…some spark of life and gratitude and being part of something that I had never felt before. I still can’t even begin to call the memories of that day up in my mind because I instantly get all embarrassingly teary. So, yeah, Snowdonia was my toughest race but it was my most fun as well. Maybe even the best day of my life.
3. What did you learn about yourself through your training / racing last year?
I found bravery within myself that I never knew was there and re-discovered how wonderfully limitless the generosity of others so often is. I now have absolutely no idea what it is I am NOT capable of.
4. When did you start running? What would you tell a newbie runner?
I started running in 2013 and had only completed a marathon, half marathon, and a 10 miler before embarking on my crazy challenge so I’m still not super experienced myself. My advice for new runners is to just get going and don’t stop…when an impediment or a challenge comes up figure out how to get through it and keep on keeping on. Yes, it will hurt initially and you may get blisters or wind burn or even some lovely chafing. You will question your shoe and sock choices with a forensic levels of detail you never thought possible. You will get lost or maybe chased by a dog and you will definitely waterboard yourself the first time you try and drink out of those tiny plastic cups at a water stop during a race. But just keep going. Because at some stage – maybe after the first run or maybe months down the line – something will loosen inside you and you’ll find your flow. The discomfort and challenges don’t ever stop but rather become partners on your runs – well-known companions, I guess – rather than impediments to your progress. It also helps to remember just how lucky you are to be able to get out there and do something as ‘simple’ as put one foot in front of the other. You’ve got legs, guys, you know how to use them, and that is a wonderful gift.
5. What is your next challenge going to be?
I had to take 2016 off from running for fundraising as I had some work stuff to concentrate on (yawn) but I’ll be back in 2017. I’m not entirely sure what my next Lauran Does challenge will look like but I do know that my eventual goal over the next few years is to complete the Marathon de Sables multi-day ultra in the Sahara so next year is going to have to include some forays into some ultramarathon distances. My poor feet are super pleased already!