Inspired by watching the London Marathon in April 2014, Rob Young set out the next day to run his first marathon. And, having done that, he decided to run a few more. Exactly one year later he’d run a world record 370 marathons. He has now raced all over the world, raising money for charities such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, Dreams Come True and NSPCC and holds the record for running the longest distance without sleep 373 miles, He recently won Champion of the Year at the Peace and Sports Awards.
‘Everyone has the ability to run a marathon. It takes three weeks for the body to adjust and one week for the mind. My first run was triggered by a 20p bet – my fiancée told me I couldn’t do it, so I set out the next day and ran 26 miles. Everything seemed to click and I knew I could do long distances. A year later I’d run 370 and marathons. As I had a full-time job I’d start running at 3am and finish at 7am. I ran over 10,000 miles in one year and I still get up all hours, travelling from race to race, although I gave up work to run full time. Hopefully, one day I’ll earn an income from it.
‘People ask how I plan my runs. My technique is to run the first half of the race faster and the second half is about easing off and replenishing stores. If I know I’m in the lead I can slow to a jog for a while.
‘When I start out on a long run, lots of thoughts go through my head – everything about life – but then I start to go blank. After a while I start to become aware of what’s around me, taking in the scenery. Then I might start doing a silly dance or break into a song. To break the mindset, I start thinking about how I can help the person next to me keep going – just make them smile – it allows you to break out of the running mind.
‘During a run I might have 150 people following me at any time – other ultra (long distance) runners, kids, bikes, cars. The running community is fantastic and ultras really help each other, sometimes giving up the win to do so.
‘Straight after a race I’ll eat 2,000 calories – three burgers, a milkshake, whatever – just to get some calories in quickly. Then a couple of hours later I’ll have three plates of pasta and veg.
‘I’m motivated by raising money for children’s charities. My early years were very difficult. I had a abusive father and it was normal to have daily beatings. He used to dangle me over the banisters by one leg and said if I made a noise he’d drop me. I feel like my family tree starts with me and I want to help disadvantaged kids.
‘I also want to give other children hope. I have given more than 100 talks to schools about my background – that I was tortured and what he did to my mum and sister. The kids on totally focussed on my story and then I use sport to bring inspiration, to show you can move forward in your life, whatever has happened to you.
‘At the end of each day I lie in bed thinking about running more, pushing myself harder. When I close my eyes, I see roads.’
You can find out more about Rob and help to support his charities at marathonmanuk.com