Interview by Ruaidhri Marshall
There’s one definite formula for success: hard work, a dash of dedication, mixed in with a whole lot of consistency. Something that our next interviewee has mastered.
I talk with Chris ‘Kip’ Patterson, a runner who undertook a unique achievement, running 52 marathons in 52 weeks. His journey allowed him to run for a phenomenal cause, a fantastic charity helping children around the world.
Here is Chris’s story…
Tell me about yourself. How did you get into running and how did it become such an important part of your life?
My names Kip and I live and work in the Midlands. I got into running the way many people do, a group of mates signed up for a charity 10k... and that was it, I was hooked.
I’m 36 years old now and I’ve been running for the last 5 years. From running that first race I gradually built up speed and distance and wanted to see how far I could take it. I ran the 100k Race to the Stones in 2015 and then straight after I signed up for the Marathon des Sables in 2016.
52 marathons in 52 weeks seemed like a good next step for me! Before running I wasn’t leading a particularly healthy lifestyle.
I was always active and played sports but had formed a lot of unhealthy habits. Running has let me break those habits and given me a fresh outlook on life.
52 marathons in 52 weeks, an extraordinary journey!
Could you share with us how you approached this journey?
A major part of the challenge for me was the fact I work full time, and fitting this in around my running. It worked out that I had about 35 flights last year to get me to various parts of the world.
All my races were official marathons, so it took some planning! Taking Barcelona as an example, I finished work on a Friday evening, got to the airport and took my flight. The next morning, I went to register and ran on the Sunday, then flew home that night to be back at work for Monday morning. This kind of schedule was fun for the most part, but it did become tiring at times. I tried to look upon the whole year as an adventure.
I did take some holiday time when I travelled further afield. The Great Wall of China marathon for example, I was there for a week. Running along the wall was a great experience, it was crazy hot and humid, and the steps really take it out of you. The support when running through the small rural villages were much appreciated!
One marathon that I was particularly looking forward to was the Isle of Islay marathon (I was surprised to see they have an official marathon there!). My Great Great Grandparents are buried on the island and I had never been before. I almost didn’t get to this one however. The flight from Glasgow to Islay normally takes about 25 minutes.
However, cloud cover was so bad the pilot couldn’t see the runway. After circling for an hour, he said we would have one last try before having to turn back as we were running out of fuel. Right on cue the clouds cleared, and we were able to land. The views on this run were spectacular and I experienced all 4 seasons in one run. Only 14 runners took part!
There was something quite special about it. Instead of medals we were given plaques made by children at the local school. One to remember.
From initial memory, other Highlights included running Berlin Marathon when the World Record was broken, Athens, Prague, Loch Ness, Amsterdam, Porto, Dublin, Malta and Gran Canaria.
Could you tell us about the charity you chose to run for?
I chose to run for Hope for Children. I ran the MDS for them in 2016 and then again for my 52 in 52 last year. In total we’ve raised over £30,000. Hope for Children is an international charity thatseeks to help children in poverty, through education and health care. They also seek to help families establish sustainable businesses.
As one of the smaller charities, they rely heavily on volunteers and fundraisers like myself. It’s nice to know the money I raise goes directly to making a real difference. This week I will be flying to Uganda to see some of the work and projects they are running first-hand.
I hope to be able to use this trip to help raise more money for my future challenges I am planning.
Did running for a charity offer you extra motivation?
Yes 100%. It would have been easy to pull out with the injury I sustained early in the year, the thought of how much money we could raise for Hope for Children was a major motivating factor in getting me through it, and likewise when I did MDS.
Which marathons proved the most challenging?
With a challenge like this one of my biggest fears was getting injured...and sure enough, during the Southampton marathon I damaged my knee. Unfortunately, this was fairly near the start of the challenge and kind of set the tone for the rest of the year.
I developed a kind of limp/run technique. Not advisable at all, but I had raised a lot of money for Hope for Children and had so much support through social media I decided I could find a way to get through the rest of it.
My worst marathon, purely from an injury point of view was Edinburgh. I’d been suffering with tendonitis in my knee since April. For some reason this race was incredibly painful! I limped/ran 26.2 miles in about 4:20. This is of course no reflection on the course or the organisation of the race….sometimes running is hard and this was just one of those days.
The feeling when you crossed the finishing line of marathon 52 out of 52. What was going through your mind?
I completed the final marathon of my 52 in 52 week challenge on Saturday 12th January, with 1 day to spare! Due to injury complications earlier in the year I had to load the end of the challenge far heavier than I originally planned. I ran 7 marathons in 10 days over the Christmas period, and a total of 12 in the final 4 weeks.
Christmas and New Year for me was mainly spent in various Holiday inns or Travel Lodges. My last was An SVN event in Betteshanger. I was surprised to see all my family arrive and also my mate Kevin Webber. Kev and I met during MDS when we were tent mates and have kept in touch. Please check out Kev’s story – a constant inspiration to me.
What advice could you give someone who wants to compete in 52 marathons in 52 weeks?
To help avoid injury, don’t stop the strength work in the gym! I made the mistake of reducing/removing my gym work in February to save my legs for the races. Injury soon followed. A common misconception with a challenge like this is you can eat what you want as you are running so much.
This is not the case, it’s important to eat clean to give your body the best chance of recovery throughout the year and avoid putting on excess weight. Mentally, take it one race at a time. Don’t worry about what’s coming up the following week and remember your body is much stronger than you think.
Look on it as an adventure and remember to enjoy it as much as you can!
Some of your Instagram post hint at an ambitious 2020, could you tell us more about your plans?
I am busy planning a big event for 2020. I can’t reveal too much just yet…. but I’ll be running around a country and it will be filmed for a documentary. I would love to tell you all about it so please ask again, in the future!
We sure will!
To Follow Kip’s story and to keep in touch with his latest adventures, Follow him on Instagram at @kip_patterson.
Hope for Children, is an amazing international charity working towards a world in which every child has the happy, healthy and positive childhood. To find out more click here.