A 35-year-old woman sets out this month to try to beat the female record for an iconic British long-distance route. Carla Molinaro hopes to run 874 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 12 days.
The women’s record for the route was set by Sharon Gayte in 12 days, 11 hours, 6 minutes and 7 seconds in August 2019.
Carla, a Team GB ultra runner from Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, will need to run more than 70 miles each day for 12 consecutive days.
She only decided to take on the challenge starting on July 16 in April.
Carla, who is an accomplished multi-day runner, said: “I have been planning to do the LEJOG in 2021 but then we went into lockdown.
“I thought I might as well do it this year instead. Most races and events have been cancelled this year and if my legs are going to be smashed up doing LEJOG it means I will have plenty of time for recovery.”
Training for LEJOG
Training started with 15km on four consecutive days. Carla upped the distance by 5km each week until she was running 50km on each of the four days.
She included speed and strength work and reports that she suffered only a slight hamstring strain in the build up.
She adds: “Blisters were an issue at the start of the training but I did a lot of research and I have now got on top of these.”
Previously, Carla has run 900km over 20 days. She says: “I took part in Long Road to the Comrades and the aim was 90km for 20 days. I tore my quad on day five but I kept going, only I did less total distance.
“Still, I think I know what I am letting myself in for with the LEJOG because of my prior running experience.”
A successful runner
Carla has a long list of podium places to her name, including first and a course record at the 69km Capital to Country Ultra (2020); first in 32km Magalisberg Challenge (2019) and gold in the 90km Comrades Ultra Marathon (2018).
She leads long-distance multi-day running tours with her business, The Running Company.
The LEJOG will be a feat of both physical and mental endurance.
Carla says: “Physically I feel I am as prepared as I can be and I just have to hope I remain uninjured.
“I will be sticking to the 70 miles each day, especially at the start on fresh legs. The temptation to try to do extra miles in the beginning could ruin the final outcome.
“I think the hardest days will be the first few and getting started each day. But I am pushing any doubts to the back of my mind.
“It’s the mental side of things, the negative thoughts, that could jeopardise the challenge so I am just batting these thoughts away.
“I do hope that people will turn out to run with me and chat with me. Of course, we need to be aware of the social distancing guidelines, too.”
Support for the LEJOG record bid
Carla has a dedicated support crew with her. She has enlisted the help of a physio, massage therapists and people to cook and supply snacks and hydration.
She will have a cyclist with her to keep her safe and in the right direction on the roads. Two motorhomes will travel with the runner so she can maximise her sleep.
Carla says: “The key will be to eat enough and to sleep enough. I will be eating every hour and swapping between proper food and energy snacks. I have the support of Nuun and Clif bars.
“I will be trying to get as much rest as I can after 15 hours each day on my feet.
“What keeps me going just now is that I know I can walk 70 miles each day so if I can go a bit faster and run then I should hopefully stay on target.
“My aim is to celebrate my 36th birthday on July 27 by breaking the record.”