News 100th Marathon for Thanet Roadrunners’ Mark Foster 100th Marathon for Thanet Roadrunners’ Mark Foster

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Report by Ian Lockyer
2017-10-20 23:16:09

100th Marathon for Thanet Roadrunners’ Mark Foster

Most people spend their weekends either tidying the house, doing the DIY, tending to the gardening or walking the dogs.  Well, one Ramsgate man will be doing something a little more energetic this Sunday and will be completing a magnificent target of his one-hundredth marathon...which is no mean achievement.

Mark Foster, 55, from Ramsgate, is a member of local running and athletics club, Thanet Roadrunners AC and will be taking part in an unusual running event called the Cakeathon Challenge on Sunday 22nd October 2017.   The event, organised by Saxons, Vikings and Normans Events and held at Betteshanger Country Park, near Deal, is a cake themed running event involving 4.37-mile laps…as well as eating as much cake as you like.  The only rule is that there is a 6-hour time limit for the event.  For this event, Mark will be surrounded by friends, family and fellow club members as he undertakes to complete the final leg of his epic running journey.

Mark and his wife Sharon have been with the club since they moved to Thanet from Bexley 14 years ago in 2003.  He started running in 1999 and completed his first ever race, a 10k event at Greenwich Park a year later.  He then went on to tackle his first marathon in 2001 which was the London Marathon.  Like most people, he said, ‘ I just want to see if I can complete one marathon.’  However, the experience of London had him hooked on marathon running, and he wanted to do more.

Mark and Sharon have been a permanent fixture on the running circuit, not only helping out at Thanet Roadrunners events but Kent Cross County, charity runs and Challenge Hub and Saxon, Viking and Normans Ultra running events.  They have both given up an enormous amount of hours in the behind the scenes activities of these races all with enthusiasm and positive, happy attitudes.  Mark has also been the club’s chairman for three years and is currently a run leader and coach and takes a weekly training session on the road and track.  Mark is always ready to offer advice and provides training plans for many runners at the club.  As such he is an incredibly respected member of the club.

So what does Mark like about his little habit of running marathons? Mark said, ‘I love the sense of achievement.  I also love the camaraderie amongst all the other runners.  It’s us against the distance rather than running against competitors. Even now I am nervous at the start.  It’s a long way, 26.2 miles and so much can go wrong.’

Asked what were his highlights of his marathon running career? Mark said, ‘I loved London in the early days before it became too crowded.  My favourite marathon of all time would have to be the Swiss Alpine Marathon in Davos.  There was incredible scenery and dealing with altitude along with the distance.  Even though it was summertime, we went high enough to see the snow.’

So how does Mark prepare for a marathon?  Does he have any unique tips?  Mark said, ‘I always ensure I’m hydrated and drink electrolyte drinks in the preceding days.  In the early days, I made my own by mixing 50/50 orange juice with water and added two teaspoons of salt  It tasted horrible but did the job.   Nowadays I buy the readymade drinks or tabs to dissolve in water which does the job and tastes ok.’

Mark has also moved onto the more difficult ultramarathon running which to the uninitiated is running anything above 30 miles.  He said, ‘I’ve been lucky to take part in several ultras including quite a few LDWA events where you just turn up, get given a route card and have to find your way around.  I completed the across Wales challenge running from just inside England at Anchor near Clun to Clarach Bay on the Welsh coast.  But my favourite ultra has to be UTA (Ultra Trail Australia) which was 100 kilometres through the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia.  It kicked my butt in 2014 when the medical team withdrew me from the race at 89k.  I went back in 2016 and ran with my daughter Sarah both getting a finish.  It's a brutal race, prides itself on being Australia’s toughest 100k with ridiculous amounts of elevation gains but runs through outstanding scenery.’

So with 100 marathons, countless ultra marathons, you must have had some help along the way?  Mark said, ‘Yes. There are so many running buddies, coaches and friends who have all inspired and helped me to achieve some awesome things running.  But without the support of my amazing wife, Sharon none of it would be possible (she’s also an incredibly tough and talented runner herself).  Thank you, Sharon.’

So what would you say to anyone who thinks they cannot do what you have achieved?  Mark said, ‘YES, YOU CAN! We are all capable of achieving amazing things you just have to decide that you want to do it and set out to do it.’

Finally, how will you feel when you have passed the finish line on Sunday…..and will that be it?  Mark said, ‘I’m not sure how I will feel when I cross the finish line on Sunday, assuming I do!  I imagine it’s going to be quite emotional, but I don’t see this as an end goal.  I have no specific plans finalised yet, but I’m sure 2018 will bring new running challenges and crazy ideas, watch this space!  But before that, I think I might have a few beers and eat some cake!

Derek Sackett, President for Thanet Roadrunners AC, said, ‘Mark has worked so hard to get himself into this fabulous position of running so many marathons  I and a lot of other friends and club members will be with him on Sunday to celebrate with him in his massive achievement.’

Everyone at Thanet Roadrunners AC wishes Mark every success on Sunday!

 

 

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