25–26 Jan 2025 276 days to go! #RunShow

Melanie Campbell

I have been running for as long as I can remember. Guess I have just always been restless 😉

When I was eleven I knew I wanted to do the London Marathon one day. I have now completed it four times (2013, 2014 and 2017 in London, plus the virtual in 2020). I think it is a really special event and really would love to do it again one day.

In the past few years I was gravitating more towards trail running and hiking. I have summited Ben Nevis twice, Pen Y Fan once and tackled some more ‘advanced’ climbs in Acadia National Park in Maine, U.S.

In late 2019 I started watching films on YouTube about ultrarunning (particularly by Billy Yang and Dream Lens Media) and completely fell in love!

I am not a fast runner at all, so it wasn’t like I had decided I had 26.2 ‘licked’ and should progress. But I am someone who loves moving, who craves the outdoors and stunning scenery. It is also the community aspect that was drawing me towards ultrarunning. There is a great sense of community in every level of running, but there is something next level about people who crew/pace/volunteer over days and nights to help people achieve their goals. I found it heartwarming.

After holding the dream of doing an ultra for around a year, I finally signed up for not one, but two in June this year(!). The first one was in Peterborough and didn’t go to plan at all, there was a heatwave and I felt unwell and had to DNF at mile 12. I was heartbroken. I then had ‘Race to the Castle’ at the end of June in Northumberland. I had only signed up for Day 1 (50k) as I wanted to ‘dip my toe in the water’ with ultras, plus I knew the elevation and terrain would make it challenging. The day was brutal (to the point where the organisers said it was the most challenging conditions they had ever had in 10 years of staging the event!). Although tougher than I could ever have imagined, nothing was going to stop me finishing and I did finish. And it was 56km, not 50km. But don’t ever expect an ultra to be the advertised distance. Working out how much further you actually have to go is part of the ‘fun’! 😉

My ambitions are well beyond my current ability, i’d love to do some iconic ultras around the world, but there is a lot of hard work between those aspirations and actually realising them.

My immediate goals are to keep getting fitter and to keep volunteering at events. I recently volunteered at North Downs Way 100 with Centurion Running on an aid station through the night and the satisfaction from helping the runners was so rewarding.

Essentially, I am a huge advocate for running, because even though I am not fast, I’m not going to grab any world records or win UTMB anytime soon, it puts a huge smile on my face, it makes me discover new places, meet new people and it makes me dare dream of what I can achieve. Plus, and maybe most importantly, it has actually been a comfort blanket at times in my life when I have really needed it.