Marvellous Marathons and Unforgettable Ultras

From Brighton to London

The formidable Foxy Ladies have turned out on mass this year to take part in road marathons in Brighton and London. We were delighted to follow, support and witness the training journey for our first time marathoners and those returning for a rematch. They trained hard for months through all conditions in the winter, putting in the time on their feet and the miles in their running shoes. They made sacrifices along the way and got through blood, sweat and tears, but my goodness did all that hard work pay off.

Brighton Beckons

With Brighton being our local one, the support from other Foxy members and their own family around the course really helped our ladies cover those 26.2 miles. What started as a cold chilly day and nasty wind along the seafront ended up being quite sunny in the end. The ladies took every mile in their stride and supported each other around the course. They showed strength and determination but also their true characters by enjoying it and smiling their way round. For those first timers this was an event and a challenge and they will have memories that will last a lifetime. They have also inspired others already to enter for next year.

Our Beautiful Brighton Marathon Runners April 2023 – Sharon Hunter, Luise Tavender, Helen Carter, Kirsty Cook, Gilly Denyer and Gaynor Toms.

London calling

In London, we were lucky enough to have eight ladies taking part, either through charity or ballot places. These ladies had joined forces with a lot of the Brighton marathon girls to help get through their training. Together their long training runs took them out past Littlehampton and Wick, over to Shoreham and along the Downslink from Horsham. The variety ensuring they didn’t get bored but were also that they were able to be joined by so many of the other Foxy Ladies for parts of the mileage along the routes. The friendships formed along the way have been an unexpected bonus.

The day saw a lot of rain fall but that really didn’t dampen spirits, they all just seemed so thrilled to be part of one of the greatest and most famous, iconic marathons in the World. Foxy supporters travelled up in their groups offering encouragement and supplies. They were rewarded with hugs with smiles and tears of happiness from our resilient and capable runners. The atmosphere in London is always electric and the crowd support makes all the difference, the buzz lasts for a few days and its almost as difficult to sleep after the event as it is before! Our ladies absorbed the energy from the crowds and used it to get them over that famous finishing line in The Mall. Every Fox that took part was absolutely delighted to have completed it and those that were doing it for charity have raised a brilliant amount of money and awareness along the way.

As is tradition in our club, all the Marathon Runners from Brighton and London meet up the next day to have a little photo shoot at the beach near Sea Lane and to come together to celebrate their achievements.

The Luscious London Marathon Runners April 2023
Sam Roper-Brooks, Amy Perry, Caroline Sims, Sarah Roper-Brooks, Trudi Ryan, Vicky Long & Ellen Groves.

From Roads to Trails and somewhere in between

Best of Both?

Sometimes if you fancy a challenge but don’t want to do it all in one go, its good to try it out in bite sized chunks and that’s exactly what three of our ladies did over bank holiday weekend. The Mid Sussex Marathon is a 3 day event totalling a marathon distance and rewarded with 3 medals that all connect – what’s not to love about that! Day 1 is a trail 10 miles in East Grinstead, Day 2 is a road 10 miler in Haywards Heath lots of hills and Day 3 is a 10km in Burgess Hill with more mud and trails and hills. The ladies described the event as amazing, friendly, well organised and well marshalled. Two of our ladies that completed this are grandmothers so we are not only very impressed but so are their grandchildren. Well done to you all.

Marvelling at the Mid-Sussex Marathoners April/May 2023 – L- R Sonia Hunter, Lin Hughes, Judith Howarth and Hannah Boyns.

The Hills

From the busy streets of Brighton and London and well supported road marathons, to the unforgiving hills of Sussex and the Three Forts Marathon. Having done a half marathon on this course in previous years we know only too well how gruelling those hill climbs are. The full marathon gets even steeper and hillier. We had ladies take part in the half and full marathon and they all really enjoyed the route and the support from Foxes popping up around the course. Our marathon ladies had trained relentlessly on the trails during the winter months, recalling one 20 mile training run that left them cold to the bones, blue lips and crying from the sheer cold and horrendous weather conditions. These ladies did all their training together, started and finished the race together showing the depth of their friendship and commitment. The full marathon actually came in at just over 27 miles so some might say that’s an Ultra?

Our tremendous Three Forts Marathon Runners April 2023 – Katey Rea and Michelle Atkins.

Ultra Amazing!

That leads us nicely to our unbelievable Ultra runners. A week after completing London, Amy Perry reported in from an Ultra (50k) she had just completed in Winchester, called the Big Way Round. During her training Amy’s runs took her all over West Sussex as she incorporated her own challenge of running to every library in our county. Read more about that here . This definitely put her in good stead for the 31 miles she endured during the Ultra which she described as well organised and super friendly. Great going Amy.

Unfazed at the Ultra May 2023- Amy Perry

Ultra Ultra …utterly unreal

Having read all the amazing challenges our ladies have undertaken in April and May, one is probably starting to feel a little tired! Now picture running 33 hilly trail miles one day and then getting back up the next day and doing it all again! That’s exactly what Foxy Leader Emma Kirwin did on the Isle of Wight, over the bank holiday weekend with her husband Miles. Following in the footsteps of fellow Foxy Sam Roper Brooks who did this last year but all in one day! Emma decided she would like to see the whole of the Island in daylight so chose the two day option, with a bonus of a weekend away. Covering one half of the Island on day 1 and the second half on day 2.

Not only did Emma endure long back to back trail training runs, in order to properly prepare herself for this challenge, she also incorporated additional strength work, stretching, mobility and nutrition in the months leading up to this.

The race included stunning views of every corner of the island and almighty hills. The terrain was ever changing from crumbling cliffs to woodland with deep mud to beautiful promenades, she described it as incredible. Only suffering with some sore toes, undeniably all the hard work and preparation Emma put in meant that her body didn’t suffer too much when being asked so much from it. What an epic challenge this was and one that will stay with them forever.

Unbelievable Ultra completed Isle of Wight April 23
Emma & Miles Kirwin

Run to the Sea

Fourteen foxes embarked on one of their toughest runs ever, when they took on Run to the Sea this year. Having trained well like our marathon runners, these ladies put all that to the test along with a huge amount of mental strength, grit and determination to get them through those 31 hilly miles . The route took them from Christs Hospital to Brighton Seafront. The weather was appalling with relentless rain, fog and cold wind on the hills, which is hard to run in at the best of times let alone when you have that many miles to do.

They took strength from each other staying in small groups and helping other runners along the way. The ladies were really well supported with family and foxy members popping up along the route and giving them supplies and dry clothes. Met at checkpoint 4 by a whole team of foxes manning the aid station, giving them hugs, warming hands, topping up drinks and refuelling, helped put smiles on their faces for the last part of the journey.

These ladies gave everything they had that day, we saw experienced runners having to pull out with hyperthermia or unable to continue as the conditions had just beaten them. To see our ladies soldier though and keep going to the finish really does show how resilient they are. Encouraging each other to keep going to the finish, digging so deep to complete the challenge they set out to do. An epic performance ladies.

Unscathed Ultra runners – Run to the Sea May 20223 (from left to right) Caroline Sims, Louise Bolton, Nicola Gibson, Natalie Atheron, Clare Packer, Lesley Kovacs, Karen Phillips, Vickie Franklin,Sarah-Louise Meeton, Luise Tavender, Helen Carter, Anya Watson, Helen Monk, Sarah Roper-Brooks.

You will not find a stronger, more determined, dedicated and most supportive encouraging group of women as the members of Foxy Ladies Running Club. Over the last couple of months our club has witnessed, the very best of all these attributes and we are so proud of all our members, none more so than the women featured in this article today.

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