What It Takes To...
Grin and bare it, and Run to Rio
Good friends and running partners Marina Ranger and Lucja Leonard revealed a lot about themselves in July, when they ran the length of the Netherlands in just their underwear (and shoes).
With events such as the Marathon des Sables under their belts, Marina and Lucja (who is Dutch by birth) are no strangers to multi-day ultras, but running the 500km Pieterpad trail in just five days, while wearing not much clothing, was a very different experience.
‘ We caused quite a stir kitted out in bright pink Runderwear,’ laughs Marina. ‘Many people looked confused, a few asked us what we were doing and some had heard about the challenge, so they cheered us on and took photos.’
Running in such an exposed state posed a few challenges, although they were more physical than mental. ‘Once we were over the initial nerves of being the only people not wearing much, it felt quite liberating,’ says Marina. ‘It was funny how quickly we’d forget – until we’d pass someone looking at us rather strangely indeed.’
Chafing, blisters and horsefly bites were less easy to forget. ‘ We both hit breaking point at 260km on day three,’ says Marina. ‘Our bodies were exhausted from the distance we’d covered,’ she adds. ‘And the fact we were getting only five hours’ sleep each night – thanks to throbbing feet and twitching muscles – was taking its toll.’
But they kept going, spurred on by a support crew made up of friends, family and partners. ‘At one point we spotted them with a sign saying “You are superheroes” and we broke down in tears for a good 15 minutes,’ says Lucja.
After averaging 100km a day for five days, the pair celebrated their arrival in Maastricht with pink bubbly. ‘It was hands down the toughest challenge we have completed,’ says Lucja.
The run wasn’t just a stunt, though – the women have raised over £7,500 for the breast cancer charity Pink Ribbon Foundation.