4th May 2017
The best stories are often the most unexpected ones, and it’s fair to say that when Kate Driskell took on the ‘Couch to 5K’ drive to get fitter and stronger, she didn’t quite expect to one day be running the 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats, by herself, self-supported and carrying everything she needs.
It is a huge undertaking for anyone, let alone someone who has only been running for 6 years and whose original intention was simply to lose weight and get fit. Yet Kate is both determined and relaxed about the 40-day challenge ahead, seeing it as proof that if you really want to do something, you can – at the same time as being a fantastic opportunity to raise money for a cause close to her heart, Public Health Collaboration (PHC).
PHC is a charity dedicated to improving public health in the UK, through research and providing resources and information about issues relating to lifestyle and health. With the charity’s work focusing on avoidable and reversible conditions such as obesity, diabetes and dementia, it strikes a chord with Kate who says she was herself overweight in the past. When she decided to take control and do something about it, her own research into how to maintain a healthy weight taught her how what you eat can affect your body in the short and long term, and the impact of diet on other factors, including brain and heart health.
Eleven years on after losing 30kg, Kate is now passionate about raising general awareness of public health, and she is hoping to raise £5,000 for PHC through her Land’s End to John O’Groats venture.
What makes Kate’s challenge even more remarkable is that running isn’t actually the sport she started out to do. It is an accidental by-product of her triathlon efforts which came about after she had lost weight and was trying to get fitter and stronger. It was around this time that Kate met her husband, himself a keen cyclist, and together they began to enter pool-based triathlons (“slightly less scary”, she clarifies) and egg each other on.
“What I really wanted was to do an Ironman before I was 40,” admits Kate, now 44. “I wanted to do something that the average person doesn’t do. I ended up doing four in one year! Healthy eating helped me to keep my weight down without even trying and, with the triathlon training on top, I was the fittest, slimmest and happiest I had been in my adult life”.
Not stopping at Ironman status, Kate decided that an Ultra might be ‘interesting’, and it wasn’t long before she had also completed the 184-mile Thames Path National Trail and the 153-mile North Downs Way, each over a 6-day period. Which brings us to her latest and somewhat more extreme challenge.
Starting in the South West of England on Sunday 21st May, Kate will be running approximately 1,000 miles over 37-42 days (she’s hoping for 37) and finishing in Scotland at the beginning of July. She will be self-navigating, carrying everything she needs in a pack on her back, getting food and water along the way, and camping or staying in pubs and B&Bs. It is a big undertaking and has rarely been attempted – especially by a female – but Kate does not seem daunted by the challenge ahead.
“The biggest unknown is where I’m going to sleep each night,” she admits. “But I’m just going to get on with it. One thing I’ve learnt it that if you really want to do something, you can – just go for it. The running side of things doesn’t faze me as I’ll just go slowly. In all the runs I’ve done it’s been about completing the race rather than winning it, and if I go at the right pace I know that I’ll be able to complete the 28 or so miles each day. I’ve wanted to traverse the length of Britain by foot for a long time and this is my chance!”
One thing Kate won’t be missing is her parkrun the day before her challenge starts. Arriving in the South West two days beforehand, she and her husband are looking forward to being parkrun tourists and running their weekly 5K in a new location before she heads off on her solo challenge. She might be about to run the equivalent of nine parkruns in a day, but the girl won’t miss her 9am slot on a Saturday and we love that.
We wish Kate the very best of luck with her Land’s End to John O’Groats challenge and will be following her progress along the way!
She is definite proof that anything is possible if you really want to achieve it, and we’re in full admiration of her resilience and positive outlook.
Follow Kate Driskell on her blog.