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Endurance has a different meaning, depending on who you are. We all have our limitations, but some of us can go just that little bit further. Although a self-confessed plodder, Suzanne Price’s can-do approach to running since turning 50 has enabled her to complete the Abbott World Marathon Majors challenge.
This challenge consists of a series of six of the world’s most renowned marathons: London; Berlin; Chicago; New York; Tokyo; and Boston. A medal for completing these, known as the Six Star Finisher medal, was introduced in 2016. Suzanne says: “For elite athletes, their motivation is for the massive prize money. For me it’s more for the experience, an amazing Six Star medal and the kudos, as fewer than 3,000 people in the world have earned the title of the Six Star Finisher to date.” Just nine people in the UK have completed the challenge within a year and, among those, Suzanne is the only woman.
For Suzanne, 2016 was a lucky year, and she has the probability ratios to prove it: “I was lucky to get marathon places in the regular ballots for London in April (1:17 chance); Berlin in September (1:2 chance); Chicago in October (1:3 chance); and New York in November (1:19 chance). I was then able, via a sports tour company, to sign up for the Tokyo marathon in February 2017 and the Boston marathon in April 2017. Only two other people in the UK achieved all six World Marathon Majors that year!”
Staying injury and illness free was one of Suzanne’s biggest tests during this time: “The ultimate finale for me was being presented with my Six Star medal at the end of the Boston marathon last year. I had done it! It felt so very special.”
Suzanne started running at the age of 17 as a way of keeping fit – six-mile runs after an hour’s aerobic session. “I joined a ladies’ running club, and played football for a local women’s football team. I was running a half marathon in the morning and playing a football match in the afternoon!
“I gave up football at the age of 23 to train for the London Marathon, my first ever, which I ran in 1988. I was sponsored by my stockbroking employers Henderson Crosthwaite and raised over £2,000 for charity – a lot of money in those days. Back then you didn’t have all the technology, gear and gels that we have today. It was trainers, cotton t-shirts, water at the drinks stations and a finish time that also included how long it took you to get over the start line with the others – no chip timing! I ran it in about five hours; it was amazing but tough. The training and recovery time was immense. It put me off running for a while.”
Following the 1988 marathon, Suzanne entered the odd 10k race every couple of years. “But in 2013 I decided that I should run on a regular basis to try to lose weight!”
With two young sons and a full-time job as a strategy manager for Capita Financial Software Services in Cheltenham, Suzanne found her return to training for the Paris Marathon in 2013 extremely challenging: “I followed a rigorous training plan which worked, and I finished in just over five hours. I then helped to establish a local running club, which kept me motivated and introduced me to an assortment of other running events.”
Her family have supported her running challenges. “I had the pleasure of running the Brighton marathon with my son last year. It was one of the highlights of all my marathons.”
Suzanne tries to run three times a week. She switched from a high-carbohydrate to a high-fat diet for the Berlin marathon. “The body runs out of carbs at mile 20 (when you hit the wall), but on a low carb diet you burn fat, so can run for longer. This worked, as I ran the second half of the Berlin marathon faster than the first half!
"Running keeps me healthy and it has a great social aspect. I get satisfaction coaching others. Inspiring people to do something they never thought they could do is a great feeling."
This article was originally published in the Q1 2018 print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.