Guest Blog with the one & only Marvellous Mimi!

I fist heard of Mimi through ultra runner Lee Chamberlain, after a little research I was so impressed with all that Mimi had achieved I knew I had to get in touch with her and ask if she would be kind enough to share her experiences with my readers. I am delighted to say, Mimi accepted.

Prepare to be inspired people! Mimi truly is Marvellous…..

You can find out more about Mimi on her website

I am 48 years old, married with three children and one grandson. My love of sport began at school, unfortunately we didn’t do athletics at my school so running wasn’t part of the curriculum.  At the age of 14 I became anorexic which sadly stayed with me on and off for the next 15 years.

marvellousmimi.com

I took up running in 1999 at the age of 36 quite simply because I wanted thinner legs and someone told me that running was the quickest way to achieve this! Having never run before I started by teaching myself to run on the Treadmill aiming for 1 mile.  Being the quiet and reserved person that I am when I managed my first mile I jumped up and down for joy in the gym, much to everyone’s amusement or embarrassment (not quite sure which!).  The next target was 3 miles in 24 minutes.  To this day I’m not really sure why I chose that time but after a few weeks of further training I did it – I can’t tell you how excited I was, yippee now I considered myself a runner!

A group of running friends at my gym were going out for a 10 mile run along the Cuckoo Trail in East Sussex and suggested that I went along with them.  I had a momentary panic as this was firstly 7 miles more than I had done before and secondly it had never occurred to me that people actually ran outside! Anyway, I took up the challenge and just loved it.  What a marvellous feeling it was, it was like being given a pair of wings and being able to fly, the best feeling in the world.

Over the next couple of years I did a few Half Marathons, 10ks and entered the Ball Buster (a duathlon), all of which I just loved, but always felt that I had more in me.

One day while I was busy doing my weights in the gym a friend came in and gave me a magazine saying she had found our next race.  I looked at the page I had been given, laughed and threw the said article on the floor.  The race she was suggesting was The Marathon des Sables – 150 mile self sufficiency race in the Sahara Desert over 7 days.  My first thought was “I could do that” followed very quickly by “my husband is going to kill me!!”

Max, Louise and I entered the Marathon des Sable 2001 under the name of Tuff Muthers and we completed the event coming away with the prize for the team with the Best sense of Humour as we had changed into purple sparkly dresses 2km before the end, causing much hilarity amongst the other competitors!

During the race I had been very ill I couldn’t keep anything down so ended up having an intravenous drip at the end of day 3 – just before the long day.  For those of you who have never had an IV drip it’s rather like being given a G&T – once it kicks in you feel marvellous!  With the race over we had a 6 hour coach trip back to the hotel; I don’t remember much of the journey as I wasn’t able to stay awake.   Back at the hotel I noticed that I was peeing blood so was taken to the doctors where I virtually passed out and had to be put on another drip (5 bags!) BUT I had completed my first ever Ultra, billed as “The toughest footrace on earth” something that many people didn’t think I would achieve.

Taking part in a race like the MdS has taught me a lot about myself.  On the longest day I was struggling to keep up with my team mates and to be quite honest this was the nearest I came to pulling out.  Max came up to me and quite simply said “remember all those people at home who think you’re going to fail” and walked away.  Sounds cruel, but boy did it work – those words stayed with me until I crossed the finish line.

Over the years I have been extremely lucky and have raced all over the world, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be any good at running and manage to get podium finishes.  My main achievements to date are:

Female World record running 840 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End in 12 days 15 hrs and 46 mins.

Overall winner of the 6633 Extreme Ultra Marathon a 352 mile non-stop self sufficiency race in the Arctic in temperatures as low as minus 40.  To this day I’m still the only female to have completed this race and hold the Course Record.

Overall winner of the Namibian Desert Challenge a 220km staged race over 5 days.

Female Course Record holder for the Grand Union Canal Race  (I think im doing this one in 2011 Mimi!) a 145 mile non-stop race from Birmingham to London along the Grand Union Canal – 28hrs 12 minutes.

First female to run back to back Comrades in South Africa

Female World Record Holder (in the process of being verified) of the Furthest Distance covered on a treadmill by a female in 7 days – 403.81 miles. Here is a video of the event….

I still have to pinch myself!

My World Record run from John O’Groats to Lands End was physically and mentally the biggest challenge I have done (Mimi, I cycled this in 2009, took me 11 days, no idea how you managed this one!)  The first day I ran 86 miles, the 2nd day 75 then approx 65 miles each day after that.  I do remember on the penultimate day being woken up as usual at 4.30am feeling tired, everything ached and for the first time during the event I just didn’t want to get out of bed.  However, my crew got me up, dressed and set me on my way by 5am.  The next four hours were pure pain, I wasn’t able to run and just wanted to stop, my poor husband was on cycling duty just had to keep pushing me on, I remember the pain in my feet was so bad I walked along with tears in my eyes.  Finally I arrived at my 4 hour stop where I had a massage, something to eat and a pep talk from one of my crew and was sent on my way again, this time however my mood was completely different, I could run, the pain seemed to have vanished and I was back to feeling positive again, it’s amazing the difference 4 hours can make!!!

I don’t actually remember doing this but apparently with only a mile to go I turned round to my husband (again on cycling duty) stopped and said that was it, I wasn’t going to go any further he was to call the rest of the crew and come and get me – you can imagine what he said to me!!!!

My whole body swelled up, I probably went up 2 dress sizes because of the swelling but it was worth it – when I crossed the finish line in Lands End I couldn’t believe that I had achieved the World Record, but more importantly I had done it not only for myself, but my crew who had supported me during the event, without them I wouldn’t even have made the start line, quite simply they were amazing.

My recent treadmill World Record was held at the Ashford Designer Outlet.  The morning the WR attempt started I was sitting in bed drinking lemsip, nose dripping wondering how I was going to even get past day one!

During the event I ran for approximately 20 hrs  a day and slept for 2 hours.  My main concern during this WR attempt was the boredom factor, usually I run from point A – B with ever changing scenery, this time I would be starting and finishing in the same place in the food hall!  However, I found it far from boring, people watching is a fantastic past time, you would be amazed at what people do!   The worst time was always between the hours of midnight – 3am when I found it very difficult to stay awake, especially the last hour before I went to sleep.  Every hour I always had something to look forward to as photographs and video had to be taken of me on the Treadmill and the distance I had covered – sad what kept me happy!

Towards the end of the first day I started having problems with my left foot, it was causing a huge amount of pain which meant running was difficult.  After having it looked at by a podiatrist I was told that he was 99 percent positive I had a stress fracture – time to re-evaluate my goals! (after the World Record I had an x-ray and it was confirmed I had an acute stress fracture in my second toe!)

In the early hours of Saturday morning I broke the record, you would have thought I would be thrilled but I was so tired that my only thoughts were getting as quickly as possible to my bed for some sleep.  The total distance I covered at the end of the 7 days was 403.81 miles, not as far as I had wanted to go, BUT with everything I had thrown at me I was really pleased.  Once again, my crew /helpers were outstanding and I have a lot to thank them for.

 Running has given me my confidence back, belief in myself has returned but above all it has made me a stronger person and hopefully a better one.  The camaraderie in these events is fantastic, living in a tent for 7 days with complete strangers, or running with someone you have never met before builds a bond between you that will never be broken; sharing an experience like that is magical, I now have some great friends around the world who have helped and supported me over the years, all through running.

 I love to see just how far I can push myself and am always striving to find a race that is more challenging or different and if I can’t find what I’m looking for I set my own challenges.  I have run in some of the hottest, coldest, windiest and driest places on earth; have run over mountains, on frozen rivers, sand, canyons and snow, from the highest to the lowest my legs have taken me there.

So why I hear you ask do I run?  Quite simply I love it.  I love the freedom it gives me, the space to be by myself, the beautiful countries I have had the privilege to race in, pushing the boundaries beyond what other people consider normal and lastly the people I have met along the way who have inspired me, made me dig deeper, strive to be better and believe in myself.

What an amazing, extra-ordinary journey I have had in the past 11 years and all because I wanted thinner legs!

Thank you Mimi, there is not really a lot I need to say about what you have achieved. It speaks for itself.

I would love to catch up with you someday for a run, maybe in 2011 our paths will cross.

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About Mark Cooper

My name is Mark Cooper, I am an ultra runner, motivational speaker, expedition consultant and public relations rookie. I help people achieve greatness in their lives. For bookings or more information you can email mark@runwithmark.com
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One Response to Guest Blog with the one & only Marvellous Mimi!

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