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Sergeant Dan Cope has chosen to take on the longest run of his life in order to raise funds for CHECT. Here he discusses why he has chosen the 82 mile run and provides us with tips on how to prepare for a long distance running challenge.

For reasons that not even the greatest minds can fathom, I have agreed to run 82 miles in 24 hours. On 9th April 2022 I will be running The ONER – Rab’s Ultra to raise money for CHECT. When my daughter was first born it was believed that she had retinoblastoma, however after surgery it became clear that something much less severe was causing the blindness in her left eye. We were incredibly fortunate for this to be the case, but the support we received from CHECT during and after this time made us realise just how amazing the trust is.

Dan in his CHECT T.shirt

Ever since we saw what families can go through as a result of retinoblastoma, we have done all we can to give back to CHECT. This is why I will be running in honour of CHECT, a charity that is so close to our hearts.

The challenge I’ll be completing, The ONER – Rab’s Ultra, is a race along the Dorset coast that is named after Rab McAvoy, a guy that used to work at my unit before he sadly took his own life. The 82 mile run from Studland to Charmouth, over the Jurassic coastline, has a strict 24 hour time limit and self-navigation is required to complete the course. It is a seriously tough event with only 50% of runners normally making it to the finishing line.

The hardest part of the challenge will be when the night hits. The event starts at 12:00 midday and finishes the same time on Sunday 10th April, so I’ll be reaching Weymouth just as it’s getting dark and about 50 miles in. When the light goes and cold night comes in, morale will drop and it’ll be a hard graft to get through the night just to see the sunrise the other side, hopefully a lot closer to the finish. I have been training for over a year for the event, completing over 2000 miles of running last year, but never going over 45 miles in a single run. This event will be the greatest challenge of my life, but is nothing compared to the challenge faced by some families that CHECT supports and this is the main reason I want to complete this challenge in aid of CHECT.

How Sergeant Dan Cope prepares for an extreme challenge

Before the event I carb load for a week, eating lots of potatoes, rice, pasta, and drinking lots of water. Before such a big undertaking, doing this for a couple of days just isn’t enough, you need to be doing it for five days at the very least. Getting a good night’s sleep is also essential, as this helps prepare the body and aids in restoring the body so it’s fresh for the event. The week before the event I also taper my runs, reducing my daily mileage significantly down to about 3-6 miles just to keep the legs moving. During all the rest of my training, the only other exercise I do is stretching and/or yoga, this helps with preventing injury and makes the body healthier as whole.

Dan running

As well as preparing the body, it’s good to try and test the kit that’s going to work best for you. 82 miles is a long way to go with kit that isn’t right for you, so doing high mileage with the trainers, pack/bag, etc, that you’re intending to use is essential. A little rub here, or a tiny niggle there, could turn into a big issue further down the line. The run is a physical and mental challenge, so doing your best to prepare and prevent is essential when training, making the challenge ‘easier’ on the day.

Throughout the event you have to maintain an intake of about 400 calories an hour. Less than this and your energy will run out, more than this and your body will just either shut down trying to digest it or try and get rid of it via the quickest exit! Along with maintaining a calorie intake, lots of water is needed as dehydration is a real threat.

 

Would you like to take on a challenge for CHECT? From the London Marathon to the Great North Run, we can offer you places to run for CHECT in the UK’s top events!  Take a look at what’s on offer at on our website.

If you are looking for something near home check out over 350 local events.  Choose your region and have a scroll through – from 5K runs to obstacle races, we have a range of amazing events and challenges for you to sign up to. If you’d like more ideas, please feel free to contact Diane at fundraising@chect.org.uk