doc

A Leigh Striders member has run 280 miles in quick succession after competing in two ultra marathons.

Michelle Payne took on the 145-mile Grand Union Canal Run, with 107 other runners, which saw the competitors run from Birmingham to London.

The Southend-based athlete then followed that up by competing in the Badwater 135 ultra marathon.

Payne, who raised money for Havens Hospices by competing in the events, was given 45 hours to complete the Grand Union Canal Run, but she finished with an impressive time of 37 hours and 34 minutes.

The time allowed Payne to finish fourth in the ladies rankings and 33rd overall, which left the Leigh Striders athlete delighted after some setbacks.

Payne said: “The Grand Union Canal Race was tough.

“I had a few accidents along the way – including running head first into one of the lower bridges at mile 27 which floored me and cut my face open and then tripping over tree roots, doing a ‘dive and slide’ along the ground at mile 39, which damaged both my arm and ankle.

“I managed to finish the race. I couldn’t let people down who had supported me, encouraged me and donated to my fundraising for Havens Hospices. That helped to keep me going.

“I love running and the sense of camaraderie that comes with it - we only get one life, so shouldn’t we be filling it with as much of the stuff that brings us joy, happiness, friendship and love?

“And from what I have seen Havens Hospices is doing just that for adults, children, young people and their families every day for free.

“The hospices do not receive very much government funding and yet they don’t charge a penny for the support, care and memories they give their patients, families and friends, so it just made sense to raise money for living and loving life by achieving one of my dreams.”

Payne then set off on the Badwater 135 ultra marathon alongside 99 other athletes.

Badwater is reported to be one of the toughest races in the world, with a route through Death Valley, where the breathing temperature is expected to hit around 54°C and the road temperatures can reach 93°C.

But Payne fought through the heat and humidity to finish the race in 44 hours and 17 minutes to come 20th in the ladies category and 69th overall.

Payne’s achievements are even more impressive considering she only started running in 2013.

Since then, Payne has competed across the world, including in Sierra Leone, Madagascar, the Grand Canyon and the infamous 250km Marathon des Sables, which sees athletes compete in a desert race across the Sahara.

Payne has now competed in numerous events which has consisted of her running over 100 miles.

And Havens Hospice were thankful for Payne’s support during her races.

Emma Hamilton, the events fundraiser at Havens Hospice, said: “We are amazed and bowled over by Michelle’s achievement and determination to effectively run the width of Great Britain.”