WIGAN Phoenix runner Charlotte Finch absolutely smashed the women’s record to win the Keswick-Barrow ‘ultra’ run.
And she might have done even better had she trained properly for the event!
In my wildest dreams I thought I might go close to six hours, but to hear I’d run 5hrs 6 mins was amazingCharlotte Finch
Charlotte, 40, from Springfield, only signed up for the gruelling 40-mile event after a pal dropped out.
But she made light work of the hilly course up in the Lake District to obliterate the existing women’s record and place an impressive eighth overall from a field of almost 2,000.
“I’ve done 10k’s and half marathons but I really enjoy the ultra distances (races of more 26 miles),” Charlotte told the Observer.
“I hadn’t planned to do it, but a friend of mine had entered a team of 10 – and one got injured – so they asked would I join them.
“It’s been six years since my last one, but I said ‘okay’.
“I hadn’t really been in training – usually I need a 12-week block with 100 miles a week, and the most I managed to do in the lead-up was 18 miles. But I felt all right and just thought I’d see how it went.”
With the race starting at 5.30am, that meant an alarm call at 3am and “loads of bleary-eyed runners in semi-darkness” making for a “surreal” sight at the start.
But once the race began, it couldn’t have gone any better for Charlotte, with any nerves being quickly eradicated.
“I didn’t know the course, never having done the event before, but it was obviously hilly being up in the Lake District,” she revealed.
“Unfortunately my watch stopped at 20 miles, so I had no idea what pace we were doing.
“I only really felt bad at the 35-mile mark, and it’s unusual to get that far feeling so good.
“At the end, I couldn’t make any sense of it – I looked at the clock and it said ‘10:35’.
“I thought that was the amount of time we’d taken – over 10 hours– and I thought ‘that can’t be right’.
“I knew there weren’t many guys in front of me, so I thought I’d done all right, and we realised it was the actual time – just after half past 10!
“I thought I might have been the first lady home, but an adjudicator grabbed me and told me I’d smashed the course record.
“In my wildest dreams I thought I might go close to six hours, but to hear I’d run 5hrs 6 mins was amazing.”
Charlotte’s club, Wigan Phoenix, has a really strong tradition of ‘ultra’ runners under the watchful eye of coach Richard Heyes. “He’s helped me loads,” she acknowledged. “He’s really dedicated to his athletes.”
Charlotte is a cousin of Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan, whose brother Tony was a talented runner who held a number of ‘ultra-athlete’ records.
Sadly, Tony died from a heart-attack caused by a genetic condition in 2000, aged 55.
“He was inspirational to me,” added Charlotte.