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 .       What made you come up with this challenge?

I was looking for something to keep me moving forward with my running and training and something that others could gain from. I have run for a few larger charities in the past but none of them had the personal touch that I was looking for.

·        Why The IBS Network?

I found the Network was the only charity involved with IBS and as a fellow IBS sufferer it was a no brainier from there on in.

·        How many races have you done so far?

So far this year I have completed 11 half marathons
And various other distance races, mainly in the U.K. but also races in Portugal and Philadelphia.

What were they?

Gloucester half
Llanelli half
Lisbon half
Sheffield half
Broad street run - 10 mile race in Philadelphia
Brighton music half
Runfestrun weekend
Lacock half
Frome half
Severn bridge half
Chippenham half
Swindon half
Valencia marathon on 1st December 2019

·        Who is doing the challenge with you?

I’m doing the challenge on my own but friends and family have joined me along the way in some races, and under Team IBS shirts .. getting the name out there.

·        What’s been the best race so far and why?

Best race so far this year would have to be Sheffield half marathon .. the home of the charity ... I used to live in Rotherham so really almost a home run. And the fact that Team IBS ran it together as a team of ten runners. The day was intense and satisfying and Alison from The IBS Network came long to support us on the day. It was just perfect.

·        What’s been the most challenging race so far, and why?

I guess that would be Worcester half marathon last year when I tore my ACL around mile 5 and struggled to finish the race.

·        What’s been the hardest part about the challenge so far – you’ve mentioned injury?

Hardest part of the challenge has been raising funds and getting sponsors, as I don’t really know many people where I live and only a few people I know at work. With the advent of London marathon runners having to raise huge amounts of money to get a place, I think the charity fundraising pool is almost drained with people getting fed up of being asked to contribute.
Injury and over training has also been a huge issue.. upping the training from normal half marathon to full marathon training has caused parts of my body to fail me a few times this year. Firstly I had to endure IT band issues which was really hard to deal with,but physio,yoga and the gym really helped me get the strength back into the affected areas and put me back out into my training again, although I didn’t let it affect my challenge races, I simply slowed down my times and training and ran them as best I could. Following that injury I developed another more arduous injury in the form of a Morton’s neuroma which will probably never go away.. I have however learned to carry on running with it.. by slowing down my pace and effort again I’ve managed to get through the pain of it and do my races. So far in the challenge I have only had to pull out of the one race which should have been Bournemouth half in October .. one of my favourite races of the season. But I had to listen to my body and protect it.

·        How are you staying positive?

I’m always positive when I have a race on the horizon and I’m fit to run it at my best. With injury comes doubt and positivity dwindles but one run is never the same as the last and we have to accept the bad with the good. Staying healthy and being able to get out and run creates the positivity I need to get me through it all.

·        How have you been raising money?

So far I have raised funds by running raffles online thanks to some great prizes I had donated. I have also formed team IBS which raised a few quid and this month there’s a sort of lotto running to guess my first marathon finishing time. I also sold off some postcards which raised an amazing £100 by themselves.. I have been so lucky so far in that I have got a lot of friends around the world who very often help me out.
It’s getting harder to raise funds though these days as so many of us runners are trying.

·        How do you manage your IBS alongside the demands of running training?

My IBS luckily is under control lately .. having gone through the rigours of fodmapping and reintroduction and learning what I can and cannot eat on a daily basis has really changed my IBS symptoms. Alongside my training my diet rarely changes except for my marathon training has seen me trying out energy gels at points during my runs. I’m not sure they’re making a huge difference to me during the runs but it’s certainly not harming my IBS symptoms right now.
Going low carb has helped me a lot though.

·        You had advice from one of our experts about nutrition – how is that going?

The advice I was given wasn’t really of much help to me.. most dietitians are great with answers but as we all know our IBS is different in every case.. you can’t abide by the rules with this condition. I have followed his advice and tried to keep up with macros and supplements advised, but I was advised against trying Keto which has greatly helped with my bloating and stomach cramps.
He did advise me taking certain tests as well but the cost of this challenge is all on myself so I haven’t taken the tests suggested as they are very expensive. I am grateful for his advice though and the help from The IBS Network.

·        What advice would you give to other runners with IBS?

I would say to anyone .. try everything advised and make up your own mind with diet, as long as you are getting the right nutrients in whatever way helps you stay healthy and manages your symptoms but keep checking back in with the professionals.. get tested regularly and see your dietitian.
If you are getting through your runs without problems then you’re probably doing everything right for you. If you sustain your runs efficiently without any IBS symptoms then keep doing what you’re doing.. your body will tell you if it’s not right for you. Listen to your body... throw in some extra protein after a long run. Replace electrolytes especially if you are doing low carbs. Just be aware of what feels good and what feels bad during and after your runs and you really won’t go far wrong, it’s working for me.

·        What press and media have you featured in so far?

I’ve been in local press in Swindon a couple of times this year, as well as in the Llanelli local press and even in runners world magazine. Getting press coverage is hard work and you don’t always get quoted right or the right information in the articles but it’s a great way to get more awareness out there for the cause.

·        What’s the final race of 2019?

That would be Westonburt house xmas 10k a couple of weeks after my very first marathon in Valencia in December. I ran this race last year with a huge hangover .. I won’t be doing that again this year.

·        What’s the first race of 2020?

Gloucester half marathon ... pretty local ,friendly and inexpensive race which is a good little race in the race calendar.. you don’t find many half marathons in January.

·        What does next year’s race schedule look like?

Next years race calendar is coming along nicely so far but still not all finalised. Work and costs decide on which races I can run in, especially this year when I will be heading towards Sydney and New York for two marathons to end the challenge with.
At the moment it stands as ...
jan - Gloucester half
Feb - Benidorm half & Llanelli half
Mar - Sheffield half
April - white horse or Devizes half
May - Worcester half
Jun - Lacock half
Jul - Frome half
Aug -
Sept - Sydney marathon
Oct -
Nov - New York marathon to end the challenge with a huge bang.
I’m sure more will be added in coming months as I need at least another 5 to complete the challenge I set. Depending on costs I may just have to start adding in training runs of the half marathon distance, but I don’t want to have to.

This challenge has been one of the best things I’ve done so far in my life. I am loving the energy behind it all and the way that it’s been received by everyone involved.

I have been very lucky to have the help of team IBS , pushing me forwards through this year and I know next year they will push me twice as hard to get to Sydney and New York to end off the challenge. This year I have only had to run one of the challenge races on my own .. my friends and even my family have been there for me.. what more can you ask for in life ?