Heart attacks, Micky Mouse and Snowdonia - Norfolk runners journey to 250 marathons
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
As Melanie Sturman was about to turn 40 she decided to take up a new past time to celebrate the milestone.
The Thetford runner, from Rowan Close, chose running for a number of reasons including the health benefits and stress relief it can provide. But little did she know that eight years and 6,910 miles later she would be about to run her 250th on June 1.
The clinical nurse specialist's first race was the London Marathon in 2011. She said: "I have followed the London marathon and admired Paula Radcliffe but one year I just thought let's have a go.
"I found the first one tough because when you start running, or prepare for your first marathon, you start getting pains and illnesses so I didn't do that well, a couple days before I took part I was full of the fever but I had already raised more than £3,500 so I knew I had to soldier on.
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"I decided to have another go at a different marathon the following year and have been improving my times ever since.
"The thing I love about running is as I have a stressful job so having down time and then the is the opportunity to run alone or with your friends.
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"It is amazingly cheap as well as you can run whenever or where ever you want."
Travelling around the world
The 48-year-old added: "You get to travel all over the world as well as I have travelled to Majorca, Chicago, Disney Florida, Paris and Berlin and you get to meet some amazing people along the way.
"On average I do a marathon a week so I am running about 40 miles every week. I go to marathons all over the place and there are running sites you can go on that show when the next one is.
"In the beginning I was a member of Fetch Everyone, a running community, then when I hit my 100th marathon I become a member of the 100 club which means all the races I run have to be officially recognises marathons."
Favourites and Fails
"If I had to bit a favourite, London has to be at the top because it is the capital," Ms Sturman added.
"But for fun factor would be Walt Disney, Florida, that was crazy, you get to run around the Magic Kingdom and have selfies with Micky Mouse and just got to be a big child.
"For scenery I would have to say Snowdonia, it was really hard as you are running around Snowdia but the views are just stunning.
"The worst one was in Stevenage, there is a joke in the running community that it is so bad it only happens once every 10 years, when I did it it was awful and it just rained and rained.
"I think the worse one was in Milton Keynes when there as a serious risk of hypothermia, it was a May bank holiday and it was horrific but if you are going to do these kind of challenges it's important to keep aiming for your next milestone.
"Honestly there are a number of marathons that I have thought 'why am I doing this? I could be in bed'.
"The key thing for me is it is an activity that can please everyone, it doesn't matter how slow you are, it's about reaching your own limits. You don't have to be fast, you can do it at your own ability and no-one is going to laugh at you."
Heart attack rescue
Ms Sturman was able to use her training as a nurse to help save a life.
She said: "I remember during my 90th marathon in Portsmouth, December 2014, stopping midway and actually helping a man that was having a heart attack.
"We were at mile 11 and my friend said he was having chest pains that's when it happened, he had a heart attack.
"He survived and he said go and finish the race for me, and there was a time limit of six hours, I was out an hour helping this poor man but I was still able to finish.
"During a marathon there is a great sense of camaraderie as when fellow runners are struggling people help each other and provide support just making everyone safe and enjoying themselves."
A classic scene at any marathon is the host of costumes that runners wear while raising money for charity.
Ms Sturman added: "Fancy dresswise I have done the London Marathon as a Rubix Cube, and a 24 hour, 65 miles, with every lap we changed costume which was lots of fun."
Ms Surman completed her 250th marathon in Kingston, Surrey, on June 1.