Into race of her dreams

PUBLISHED: 14:23 14 April 2010 | UPDATED: 01:07 16 June 2010

Honiton ultra distance runner Heather Foundling-Hawker s latest racing adventure saw her competing recently in the Athens 1,000-mile Festival - to qualify for the race of her dreams. Held within the beautiful city of Athens, the course for all distance

Honiton ultra distance runner Heather Foundling-Hawker's latest racing adventure saw her competing recently in the Athens 1,000-mile Festival - to qualify for the race of her dreams.

Held within the beautiful city of Athens, the course for all distances was a 1km loop around an old airdrome in the Glyfada district of the city.

Heather entered the 24hr race and ran though the night until 1pm on Palm Sunday. The aim of a 24-hr race was to see how far the competitor could run within the 24-hour period.

Her target was 120 miles to gain entry to the Spartathon Marathon in September later this year - and event based on Herodotus' description of the Athenian 'Imerodromou' or messenger, who arrived in Sparta the day after he departed from Athens and also on well known historical events of that time.

It is considered the nearest route to that which Pheidippides must have followed and is 153 miles long up mountains tracks with wild dogs, snakes and scorpions to deter her, and is now looking for someone to run with!

It has been Heather's dream to take part in this famous race, which only allows the world's top runners to take part after strict qualifying procedures.

Due to the windy gale conditions experienced during Heather's 24-hr race, the target distance to qualify for Spartathon was reduced to 105 miles.

She started at a nice even pace whilst the wind was picking up all the time and reached 69 miles at 12 hours - well on target.

With not only the wind to battle, but the mental battle of doing 1km loops and running through the middle of the night, Heather showed the true requirements to become one of the world's top 24-hr runners.

At the 21-hour stage, she had reached 111 miles and gained the qualifying time for Spartathon 2010.

Heather increased her distance by 12 miles in only her second race and if she continues at this rate, her place in the 2011 24-hr world championships is secure.

Heather holds three gold medals and two silver medals at 100km and 50km as well as the world's best time for over 40s 50km.

With three hours left to race, Heather saw the doctor to check out her feet. He also took her blood pressure which they do to all athletes at certain stages of the race.

Heather's pressure was low; she had a headache and was giddy, battling the 25 degree heat and gale force winds had taken their toll and, eight miles short of her place in the world championships in Brieve, France, she took the sensible decision to stop running in preparation for her next adventure.

Heather finished eighth over all and 1st Lady. The race was won overall by the current world 24-hr champion Ryoichi Sekiya, from Japan, running 150 miles in the 24 hours.

Winner of the 1,000 mile race was Schwerk Wolfgang from Germany who completed 1,000 miles around the 1km loop in an amazing 11 and half days.

Heather Foundling Hawker now has an invitation to take part in a race at Pilac in Serbia.


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