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Grantham Running Club’s Payne runs from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Grantham Running Club member and ultra running specialist Nick Payne has always had the goal of being able to eat 6,000 calories a day and still lose weight.

To help him achieve this, he decided to try to run the length of Great Britain.

His route covered more than 1,000 miles, taking in some of the best trails and National Parks the UK has to offer.

Nick Payne looking fresh before he set off on his long run to John O'Groats.
Nick Payne looking fresh before he set off on his long run to John O'Groats.

This made it more interesting (and hilly!) than the shorter road route – his route had around 100,000ft of elevation,or more than three times the height of Mount Everest.

The event consisted of 31 days running, with four rest days to try to reduce the risk of injury. This meant an average of 34 miles a day, usually starting at 8am and finishing around 4pm. The rest of Nick’s time was spent eating, sleeping and seeing the physio.

He was very nervous before the event which was made worse by a fellow runner saying: “Don’t think of it as a 1,000-mile event, just think of it as five 200-mile races – that’s my favourite distance.”

Nick just hoped his hundreds of marathons and ultras would count for something when the going got tough.

Week one began at Land’s End at the beginning of last month.

The event could not have started much worse – on day one, Nick fell over on a stone stile and gashed his leg. Fortunately, it did not affect whether he could run but the scar stayed with him for the full event.

Nick did eventually improve at falling over, and learned to land on body parts which definitely would not affect his running. He also got accosted by some cows, which was a theme of the event.

There was also a lot of running on sand in the first week, giving Nick a huge blister which threatened to derail his event. Fortunately, it healed quickly under close medical supervision. Week one finished in Bristol for a much-needed rest day.

Week two started with running over the Severn Bridge into Wales, which was an amazing moment. The rest of the week was spent traversing Wales, finishing the week in Preston.

Nick’s favourite day this week was the day in the Brecon Beacons as the views were incredible and he grew to love the mountain days.

His favourite day in week three was a tough mountain day in the Lake District. After gruelling days, runners learned to treat the following day as a slow 30-mile recovery run.

It iss amazing how one’s mind-set and definition of “what’s normal” changes during an event like this. The event director cheekily called week three “an active recovery week”, as it was only 170 miles!

Nick also reached Scotland in week three – by this time he had a number of overuse injuries and was hobbling on the final day of the week with no idea how to get through the remaining 500 miles.

Fortunately, after a rest day and plenty of strapping, he was able to continue running.

The highlight of week four was running the West Highland Way, even though there was more bouldering than running at times as the terrain got quite technical.

Week five was Nick’s favourite week. The Northern Highlands are stunningly beautiful and very remote – most days he only came across a handful of people. He also surprisingly enjoyed the challenge of running through Scottish bogs, which took his mind off how tired he was.

Nick finally finished the event in John O’Groats last Friday 7th July.

All 25 competitors who finished the event said it was one of the best experiences of their lives.

Now time for a lie down...

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