In less than 24 hours, Robert Dallison is to run a marathon — one of ten marathons he'll be doing on ten consecutive days. And he's going to be doing it in Bikila FiveFingers*. The race is the Brathay 10 in 10 — here's a bit more about the 10x10:
Back in 2007 Sir Christopher Ball, a fellow of Brathay Trust, suggested that the Brathay Windermere Marathon incorporates a 10 marathons in 10 days endurance running event – 262 miles over 10 days around England’s largest lake! In its first year eight dedicated athletes established benchmark times and developed a model of support required to complete 10 marathons over consecutive days.
This distinctive event, now approaching its sixth year, is now regularly described as “... the UK’s ultimate endurance running event.”
As Robert recently posted on his blog, this 10 day race will take about a half a million steps to complete. Try and conceptualize a half of a million — it's not easy!
As if running 10 marathons in 10 days in 10 toed shoes wasn't enough, Robert is also raising money to support the Brathay Trust. His goal is to reach £5,000, and the money will be used by the Brathay Trust to underprivileged children and young people take charge of their lives. You can donate directly to support Robert and his goal via this link.
I wanted to find out a little bit more about how Robert got into running — and running in FiveFingers specifically, as well as challenges he's had on his path to train for this ultra-race. I asked him a few questions and here's what he had to say (after the jump)!
How long have you been running in FiveFingers?
I discovered minimalist running, and VFFs, in January 2010. I started running in them literally the day after ING Miami 2010 – they were my reward for having completed my first marathon in 4:37. So it’s been just over two years now, and I don’t imagine myself ever returning to “traditional” shoes. In fact, if I ever transition to anything else it will most likely be to full barefoot.
What training issues did you have to overcome running long distances in minimalist footwear?
All the usual transition issues – stiff calves, change of gait, change of pace, having to learn that pain is a form of perception that can be managed and used positively. My advantage was that I had been running for less than a year (I started in 2009) so I did not have too many “traditional” running habits to unlearn. In fact I transitioned to VFF KSOs in about two months, and then scored my Half Marathon PB which still stands at 1:47.
You previously ran four marathons in four days back in February. How was that experience? How was your recovery?
The Enigma Quadzilla 2012 was, without a doubt, the hardest thing that I have ever undertaken physically and psychologically. The full four days were run in sub-zero temps with significant wind-chill and ice/snow on the ground, so it was something of a brutal baptism to this type of event. An avalanche of sensations, some of them unpleasant, but outweighed by the challenge and elation of undertaking something so difficult and coming through in one piece. Most importantly I learned that while the body apprehends unfamiliar territory, it quickly discovers that it can survive and adapt. Recovery was facilitated by systematic ice baths and foam roller sessions within an hour or so of finishing each day’s marathon. Mental strength is an absolute necessity in these back-to-back marathon events. Day 2 was hard (ITB issues), Day 3 was harder (energy crash due to not eating enough on Day 2) – but everything came together on Day 4. Had the event not drawn to a close I could have gone out and run again on Day 5. And I did go out running a couple of days later, with no real discomfort. The biggest challenge was getting enough sleep in the weeks that followed, so it took me a while to be back on top form.
Could you tell us a little bit about how you decided on running 10 marathons in 10 days?
I stumbled across the Brathay 10-in-10 about a year ago while the 2011 edition was in progress. The videos and blogs of the participants were absolutely captivating. Immediately I knew in my gut that I had to participate in this event one day. I submitted my application on spec – the event is over-subscribed and I did not expect to be make it first time round – and when the acceptance letter came in it still took me a while to register what I had let myself in for!
How did you decide on running for this cause?
Brathay Trust is one of the most amazing charitable foundations that I have come across. A small and dedicated team of people works hands-on with vulnerable young people who come from disadvantaged and abusive backgrounds. Through a combination of outward bound courses and personal coaching, these kids discover a sense of self-esteem, and learn how to carve out a place for themselves in society. For the first time in their lives, someone respects them and believes in them. These young people are our future, and beyond my initial fund-raising goal of £5,000 I will continue to support this cause long after the 10-in-10 is complete!
Anything else you'd like to share?
If there is one thing I have learned from this whole adventure, it is that we are capable of far more than we believe possible. In many different domains – personal or professional, physical or psychological. I find myself drawing many parallels between my experience at the Quadzilla and other situations that require large amounts of patience, determination and endurance. I feel that I have only caught a glimpse of my true potential and capacities, so this makes me all the more eager to explore my limits and understand just how far I can go!
* CitySports just launched a big sale on Bikilas today — $65 or less).