Hospice fundraisers Shawn Rhodes and Karl Moreton completed the Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon in just under 10 hours.

Forty miles... that's one marathon (26.2 miles) and a half (13.1 miles), plus 0.7 miles on top.

Incorporating 10-mile loops through the grounds of Grimsthorpe Castle, in Bourne, the Grim Reaper Ultra Marathon is a race with a difference.

Running on a mixture of Tarmac, limestone and field trails, physical fitness only gets you so far; mental toughness determines if you cross the finish line. 

Aircraft engineers Karl Moreton and Shawn Rhodes embarked on this challenge in aid of charity.

Shawn had no previous distance running experience and wanted to complete the marathon to raise money for the hospice, which provided specialist care for his sister, Julie, during her short battle with cancer in 2014.

Karl is a prolific runner and, having recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia with symptoms that include chronic fatigue, and widespread joint and muscular pain, the marathon became a driver. His charity of choice was Cancer Research UK.

"It wasn't a simple case of following a training plan and turning up at the castle ready to go," said the pair. "We selected the Seabank - Boston to Skegness Trail Marathon as the last high-mileage training run, as it was suitable for both the distance and terrain. Unfortunately we both suffered injuries in the build-up."

Seven weeks beforehand, Shawn tore both hamstrings, which can take up to three months for a full recovery. But with careful therapy, he was back to light jogging within three weeks. Karl was out with his dog when he slipped on a cattle grid, resulting in a bruised and swollen knee, and cuts.

The pair were determined to recover, and the date of the marathon soon arrived.

"It was an early start to the day, and we were all ready to go for the 9.30am race start when the weather turned with a sharp down-pour," they continued. "Luckily, it only lasted five minutes and the clouds changed, leaving a bright and sunny morning.

"There were some seasoned and very talented Ultra runners in the field aiming for first place finishes, so we started near the back so we didn't get mixed up in any battles.

"Our aim was to complete the distance but professional pride meant we wanted to put in a justified performance if we could.

"The sun was warming and the grounds were stunning, as expected. It was lovely running terrain; from Tarmac track, leading off onto limestone, through a wooded section, 1.5 miles dead-straight along an abandoned railway line, back onto Tarmac, down and then up the hills, more grass and limestome mix, and then leading back to the castle start 10 miles later."

At the end of the second lap, Shawn's knee had begun to niggle him so was checked out at the medic tent. The pair had a short snack break and returned to running.

They crossed the line in a running time of nine hours and 43 minutes; altogether, including treatments and rest breaks, 11 hours and 10 minutes.

The pair raised £1,119 for their charities - an amazing achievement! Shawn is pictured here with hospice representative Lauren Alexander, presenting his donation of £446.75.

Well done from all of us here at the hospice!

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