How to run 10 marathons in 10 countries in 10 days

Posted in running on November 19, 2012

Wesley Ranger, from London, and his friends Joe Hingston and Nicola Papalini have just run 10 marathons, in 10 countries, over 10 days. 

Starting in Lake Como, Italy, together they ran to Switzerland, through Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, before returning to London for the final.  The team are raising funds  for the hospital baby units which cared for Wesley’s identical twins Jude and Elizabeth, after his wife Kerri gave birth prematurely at 28 weeks. Sadly Elizabeth died at 26 weeks during the pregnancy due to the twins suffering from twin to twin transfusion syndrome.

We spoke to Wesley to find out more about the preparation, commitment and determination involved in completing such an immense running challenge.

Nicola, Joe and Wesley – The 10-10-10 Team!

For most people one marathon is challenge enough. How and why did you come up with the idea of 10 marathons, in 10 countries, in 10 days?                                                                                                        

I was having dinner with some friends and we were discussing how I could raise money for the two baby units (The Early Birth Association and Love Your Hospital) that cared for Jude and Elizabeth and the possibilities to achieve this. It started at 3 marathons in 3 days, then morphed into 5 marathons in 5 days and by the end of the evening (and more wine) I had talked myself into running 10 marathons in 10 consecutive days. It wasn’t until I was at a friend’s wedding some months later that Joe & Nicola became involved, this is when it evolved into 10 marathons in 10 days in 10 countries (this was after more wine, there is a worrying pattern here!) I am just a normal bloke, running away from the inevitability of getting fat, this whole idea developed slowly and then once it had gathered momentum there was no turning back and no backing out! 

Wesley, Nicola and Joe after marathon number 6 of their European adventure.

Had you done much running before?

Previous to 10-10-10 I had run 8 marathons, lots of half marathons and long runs in the South Downs but only really ‘played’ at running in that I spent most of my teenage years avoiding physical exertion. 

How do you prepare for such a test of endurance? What training and preparation did you have to do?

I ran! I met up with a local ultra runner to get advice on how to train but he simply advised me to keep running, try to break the runs up with hill running which I did. I think the most important thing for me was variety. I am lucky enough to live close to the South Downs which meant I have a ready supply of varied (and stunning) running landscapes. I spent most of this year running consistently and then stepped up my training at the beginning of the summer, I peaked at around 80 miles in one week. It was really tough going but I had to keep in mind that I would be running 26.2 miles per day for 10 days. 

Training on the South Downs

The greatest challenge for me was preparing psychologically. I knew that once the runs had started, that this was going to be the deciding factor of whether I completed the 10 marathons. I tried to keep in my mind why I was putting myself through the daily slog of training (which was to raise money for the charities, but also to connect to Elizabeth).

How was it?

Running 10 marathons in 10 days has to be one of the hardest things that I have had to do, both physically and emotionally. From a physical perspective I escaped fairly unscathed from the experience; I had the normal aches and pains, painful IT bands, back pain throbbing feet etc but the hardest thing I encountered was being away from my family. I found this aspect of the experience very hard to contend with and struggled being away from my children for such a long time. 

You start to doubt why you have sacrificed your time with your family, not only the 12 days that we were away but the countless mornings and weekends that you lost in the preceding months before the trip. However what kept us going was the heartfelt messages of support we received along the way and the mind boggling generosity that people displayed with the donations that we received.  

Wesley, Joe and Nicola – The 10-10-10 Team – Five Marathons Complete and still smiling!

I also had a strong feeling that my daughter Elizabeth was with me somehow and that doing what I was doing was in some way honouring her and connecting with her in a way that I would never be able to otherwise. It was also amazing that so many people were saying her name, talking about her and what she went through.

What have you learned from the experience?

Follow your dreams. If you have an idea, explore it. Within reason, anything can be achieved and overcome.

The 10-10-10 Team

Visit the team’s website.

Donate to the campaign.

And if you’re brave enough, follow their route…

Day 1 –  Lake Como, Italy

Day 2 – Lucerne, Switzerland

Day 3 – Balzers, Liechtenstein

Day 4 – Innsbruck, Austria

Day 5 – Stuttgart, Germany

Day 6 – Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Day 7 – Eindhoven, Netherlands

Day 8 – Brussels, Belgium

Day 9 – Amiens, France

Day 10 – London, UK