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So, what would you do on the first weekend for months when you could go outside and meet six non-householders?

Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 6:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th June 2020, 6:43 pm
Mike and supporters at a Peak District boundary marker

How about run 192 miles around the Peak District and set a new world record?

“I’m feeling fine actually,” says new record holder for the Peak District Boundary Run Mike Jones, from Nether Edge, on the day after his 58 hours and 11 minutes run from Ringinglow around the entire boundary of the Peak District National Park.

“I’m hobbling a bit, so I might not do any runs next week.”

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Mike reunited with his daughters at the end of the run

Supported by a team of 20, including friends and colleagues from the GoodGym charity, ultra runner Mike said the record attempt gave him a focus in uncertain times.

“I love exploring the outdoors, on foot or by bike, and being able to go out and see these places in the Peak District we’re so lucky to live near,” he says.

“I liked having the challenge - I didn’t know I could do it.

“And it was also a nice way for people I know to get involved in something they could all do to help in a safe way, in separate locations, but all helping.

A welcome drink at the end

“I couldn’t have done it without their support.”GoodGym charity members normally meet for a weekly run to go and help a local good cause together, currently not possible under social distancing.

So members, like Mike, have been volunteering as individuals, taking shopping or prescriptions to people shielding, for example, and in Mike’s case also organising local foodbank collections. “It was good for us to be able to get together to be part of something extraordinary, but still at a distance from each other,” said Mike’s GoodGym colleague Tom Harman.

“Good news is maybe hard to find at the moment, so it was wonderful to be part of something like this.”This run was nearly twice as far as Mike’s previous longest ultra, the 108-mile Spine Flare race along the Pennines.

His plan this time was simply to ‘keep going’, knowing members of his support team would be waiting every 10 miles with dry socks, drinks, sausage rolls, chocolate and crisps – he ate 20 bags over the 192.5-mile course.None of the high fives or leg massages of typical ultra-running support were possible under Covid restrictions.

Therefore, his friends simply laid out food at the prearranged checkpoints and then stepped back for a quick chat before Mike went on his way.

He took the route clockwise, heading south through Chatsworth before swinging round past Buxton to an early morning pizza on Marsden Moor, with the final and most gruelling stretch skirting the Dark Peak moors back from Langsett to Ringinglow.

The record time, set by Stu Westfield last May, just ahead of his running companion and women’s record holder Nicki Lygo, was 105 hours – four-and-a-half days.

Mike was aiming to finish the run in three days, benefiting by only having to run through two short summer nights.

One of the worst points, he said was setting out into the driving rain after Wildboarclough on the second morning, when his body was telling him it needed to sleep.

“I came prepared with an interesting podcast to listen to,” he says.

“It was about the failed Apollo 13 mission.

“I think Iistening to that in the horizontal rain heading into the Goyt Valley put my situation into perspective.

“I said at least I’m not 240,000 miles from Earth wondering if I’m going to get home.”

Mike is an airline pilot, currently enjoying a rare summer with his family under furlough from his work from East Midlands Airport.

His wife Emma and daughters Caitlin, aged five, and three-year-old Evie were there to meet him as he ran up to the finish line on the Houndkirk Road at Ringinglow.

“I think Evie realised something exciting was happening as my friends were cheering,” says Mike, “and Stu Westfield had come over from Hayfield to congratulate me.

“When I gave her a hug, she said ‘you’re really good at running, Daddy’, which was quite nice. And my wife just handed me a beer.” For Covid 19 help from GoodGym, see goodgym.org/request-a-covid-19-task