What It Takes To...

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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.

UN­DER OATH Lucja and Ma­rina did not wa­ver

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