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  • Heather Lawson


Updated: Jun 22, 2020

With all of the Ultra Marathon Runner’s (UMR) races cancelled, or postponed due to the Coronavirus, the household has not been affected by maranoia much in the last few months.

Maranoia? What’s that?

Maranoia (n): Mental anxiety found in marathon runners, characterised by the irrational belief that last-minute disaster is imminent

But this is all about to change.


The UMR ran the London marathon in 2019, in an impressive time of 3 hours 2 minutes 31 seconds. The run up to the event was pretty tense to say the least. Was he hydrating enough? Had he eaten the right food? Did he have a niggle in his knee or was he imagining it? Was the niggle actually a proper issue, did he need to see a physio? What shirt should he wear? What should he have for breakfast? Where would I be, and how would I get his Tailwind Race Nutrition to him at mile 19?

We laugh about it now, but for the 2 to 3 weeks preceding the London Marathon the UMR was quite possibly the grumpiest person alive. I was bombarded with questions daily, and my answers were ‘irrelevant’ or completely disregarded. To be honest I couldn’t wait for the bloody race day to be over, and get back to some kind of normality, or at least have the UMR lose the teenager like attitude!


The Ultra Marathon Runner had been in fine form at the end of 2018, and I simply said, ‘I think you have it in you to run a sub 3 hour marathon’. From that moment onwards, everything changed: training schedules, types of training, running more, running faster, running hills, running intervals. The UMR was a man possessed. The commitment was huge. The food bill was huge. The pressure he heaped on himself was huge.

A few months later and the London Marathon day was suddenly upon us. Living close to Greenwich, where the marathon starts, myself and a friend got a couple of prime positions to see him whizz past at mile 7 and mile 15 and then made our way to a designated spot at mile 19 to hand over his electrolytes to help give him that final push. I knew it was going to be touch and go as to whether he would make the sub 3 hour mark. He had worked so hard. His training schedule had been like a military operation, being so committed to his sport why wouldn’t it have been.

I had been following the UMR on the London Marathon tracking App and I could see that he had been on target, with a bit in reserve until mile 19, now he had to dig deep in order to make the sub 3. What I didn’t know when I handed over his electrolytes has that he was at the edge of his limits. The quick exchange of a bottle took less that 2 seconds and he was gone. Now I just had to get to the finish line.

As you know, he didn’t do it. 3 hours, 2 minutes and 31 seconds was his time. This was a PB, his previous time was 3 hours, 5 minutes and 19 seconds, so he had taken 2 mins 48 secs off of his PB, but it didn’t matter, the sub 3 hour goal had passed him by and he was furious with himself. Had the maranoia been worth it? At the time ‘No’, but over time the UMR has come round to the fact that

he had nothing left in the tank at the finish line, it was all out on the streets of London – and he has now recognized that he got a new PB – and he can live to fight another day to get that sub 3.


So, with races cancelled and COVID-19 having us in lockdown, running has been ‘fairly normal’ and the household has been like any other, until this week.

The UMR was due to run a 8 Centurion races, the South Downs Way 100 on June 13th and North Downs Way 50 on 16th May have been postponed, however the race organizers have created an event called Centurion Running One Community. People often travel internationally to take part in their races, so this event will allow people to take part virtually, wherever they live, and you can run any distance from 5 km to 100 miles. So here was an opportunity to still run a 100 mile race (solo, or social distancing) and still do what he loves – running the trails.


Except things haven’t really gone to plan, and ultranoia has now hit the household.

To be fair, I haven’t helped things – the UMR took a nasty tumble yesterday due to the fact that I might have inadvertently got some beeswax furniture polish on our wooden staircase.

Having had back surgery a few years ago, flying through the air and landing on his shoulder blade and lower back on wooden stairs is quite possibly the worst kind of injury that could befall him.

Aside from winding himself really badly, we have come to the conclusion that he might have cracked a rib. He can breathe normally, but when he takes a large inhale the ribs by his shoulder blade screech out in pain. He is also now stiff as a board and walking like a robot.

Aside from me trying to take out the UMR (just for the record I am not the beneficiary of his life insurance policy), the UMR also has a knee injury, which has seen us go through every knee brace possible, and all potential ways to K-Tape a knee.

Not running the 100 miles is just not an option for someone like the UMR. There would be no point in me broaching the question because I know the response will be “everything still works, just not at 100%”


The house is covered in lists of supplies the UMR needs, as he will have to self-support himself over the 100 miles (he is doing 10 x 10 miles laps of a Kent trail).

So, my shopping list includes:

  • Crisps

  • Nuts

  • Avocado

  • Peanut Butter

  • Oranges

  • Bananas

  • Water

  • 2 litres of coke

  • Sausages rolls

  • Pork pies

  • Cereal bars

  • Chocolate bars

  • Jelly babies

  • Cheese

  • Bread for sandwiches

  • Pasta

  • Ibuprofen.

  • I have also been asked (read ‘ordered’) to make flapjacks!

And I now know the Amazon delivery driver by name (Fred), as we have had cheat sticks (walking poles) arrive, new socks, shorts and sunglasses (he sat on his last pair). I will write about kit in another blog, or I will take up to much space here - but running should be a cheap sport, it requires trainers, and that’s about it … isn’t it?


The atmosphere in the house is a cross between living with a child waiting for their Christmas presents to arrive (new kit), crossed with a demented professor trying to get his experiments spot on – Ultranoia has set in!

There are 4 days until Race Day (Monday 25th July). Will the injuries subside? Do the niggles really exist? Will he hydrate enough? Will he get his nutrition spot on? Will he have the right equipment come race day? Will the alarm go off at the right time?

The kit has been laid out already, and will be adjusted daily. I DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING! That way I cannot be blamed for equipment failure!

Let’s hope that the Ultranoia subsides when there is the crunch of trail shoes on gravel on Monday, and the UMR enjoys the peace of the trails, as I enjoy the peace and quiet at home without him.


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