Carla Molinaro smashes female Land’s End to John o’Groats running record
Carla Molinaro ran into the Land’s End to John o’Groats record books this morning as the fastest woman to complete the 874 miles on foot.
She arrived at the most northerly point on mainland Britain in a time of 12 days, 30 minutes and 14 seconds. She started at Land’s End on July 16.
The 36-year-old GB Team ultra runner said: “I am over the moon. It was the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done. I am so happy to be finished.”
The previous record set by Sharon Gayter last year was 12 days, 11 hours, 6 minutes and 7 seconds. Sharon joined Carla for her record run as she headed through Cumbria.
Carla, originally from South Africa and now living in Buckinghamshire, ran an average of 73 miles each day and for between 16 to 17 hours. She slept only fours hours a night. She pushed through the night last night to finally finish.
She said: “For the last week I have had very painful legs. I have never felt pain like it.
“I had thought it was a tendon issue in my shin but it was then diagnosed as cellulitis, which is an infection.
“I am being treated for it by the doctor in my support crew but it has meant I can’t lift my knee. That meant I couldn’t run. It was so frustrating. I had to walk the last 80km to John o’Groats.
“I has been so hard and painful and that last stage was the toughest. I was walking and falling asleep on my feet.
“The weather was also horrendous. There was a horrible side wind and driving rain. I just wanted to get to the end.”
Highs and lows of LEJOG record
The pounding on tarmac for most of the way from the most southerly point of mainland Britain to the most northerly was much harder than Carla had envisaged.
She said: “The tarmac day after day was brutal.”
A highlight was being able to get off-road for a bit as she came over the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh. She said: “It felt wonderful to be on grass. The descent was on bog and moss. It felt like I was running on marshmallows and that was amazing after being on the tarmac for so long.
“The views over Edinburgh, to Arthur’s seat and the three bridges of the Forth were fantastic. This was a highlight.”
Carla said the only way that she could keep going was to focus entirely on “just running”. She said: “I could do nothing else but get up, have a massage, eat breakfast, run, eat, run and then lie down.
“I had to be totally focused on that and so I wasn’t able to enjoy it like other challenges I have done.
“There was no time to chat, look at messages, laugh or say much of a hello to anyone. This is very different from all other events I have done.
“It wasn’t fun.”
It was the physical, rather than the mental aspect that most challenged Carla. The former member of Bellahouston Road Runners said: “I could cope with the mental side of things. I am good at just keeping going and I don’t need anyone by my side to motivate me.
“But the physical challenge was harder than I thought it would be. I had to grit my teeth due to the pain and fatigue – and get on with it.”
She believes that she was fortunate that everything went well. She said: “There are many things that could go wrong on a challenge like this. Everything had to come right for me to break the record.”
Carla gave praise for her supporters and crew, including her sister Andrea and brother Mark. She said: “I could not have achieved this record without my support team. They have been amazing. They have allowed me just to focus on what I needed to do day to day.
“It has been wonderful to have so many people come along and run with me, too. Seeing many kids running with me was a highlight.”
Carla had hoped to finish on her birthday, which was yesterday. She said: “I knew when I started yesterday, I would not make it to the end that day.
“But I did keep going through the night so, technically, I am saying it was still my birthday when I got there. I don’t think I want to do anything like this again on another birthday.”
Carla’s time will need to be ratified by Guinness World Record.
Andrew Rivett holds the world’s fastest time on foot of nine days, two hours and 26 minutes set in July 2001.