A man from Bognor will be testing his body to the limit when he sets off on a marathon challenge next spring to raise money for a children’s charity...
When Lee Boniface tells people he will be running ten marathons in ten days, he is usually met with looks of incredulity and the question ‘are you mad?’
But, as most runners will understand, this tough endurance challenge is something Lee will in fact be relishing, especially since he aims to raise at least £10,000 for the Brathay Trust, a charity which supports children to make a positive contribution to society and supports young people’s transition from childhood to adulthood.
Lee, 47, is director of Impressions Hairdressing in Sudley Terrace, Bognor Regis and got back into running during his mid-20s, catching the distance-running bug after completing his first marathon in 2007. He has since completed various events, many for children’s charities including Winston’s Wish and Get Kids Going,
Lee admits the Brathay 10 in 10 will be a different kettle of fish entirely; the challenge will involve negotiating a hilly course around lake Windermere in Cumbria, and Lee is under no illusions about the difficulty level. The repetition of movement on the body will undoubtedly take its toll, but the Brathay team will be there with food, ice packs and massages to put runners back together again and ensure they have nothing to worry about except the running itself.
“From what I’ve seen and the people I’ve spoken to, the 10 in 10 doesn’t get any easier,” says Lee. “When you’ve done five marathons and you’ve still got five to go, mentally, that seems to be a very tough time for people.
“The thing about the training now is that it’s very much about endurance and recovery. Normally you run something like a marathon and the recovery time for many people is about five to six weeks. The hard bit is the discipline: you’ve got to go out and run most days even if it’s just three-and-a-half miles.
“I do one to two big runs a week and every day I have to run so, when I finish work, I run home. It is more the discipline of actually doing it every day and fitting it around family and work and the other commitments you have.”
Clocking up the miles
So far training is going well, with Lee completing the Great South Run as part of his preparation programme. By the time he has finished the challenge he will have run 20 marathons, covering more than of 2,000 miles. He will be one of just 20 people from across the country taking part in the event, and the only one from the south coast. He currently does a big training run on Sundays of between 20 and 25 miles and is even back home to shower and change in time to go out and watch his son play football.
Lee has always enjoyed running since he was at school and believes many people’s beliefs limit them to thinking they cannot run. Since he has been preparing for next year, a couple of his clients have been inspired to lace up their trainers and head outside.
“Most people want to know why you are doing it, then people ask how are you going to do it,” says Lee. “And because it’s not until next year it’s like a soap opera, people want to know how you’ve been getting on.”
Helping young people
As a parent, and someone who has coached young people, Lee is very interested in the Brathay Trust’s work in developing the child and giving them the tools to lead a better life and passing those skills and tools on to their own children.
“Having children myself you get a very strong responsibility that when you are passing things on to your children they will probably pass them on to their children,” he says. “You had situations like the UK riots in the summer and people questioning why are people acting like this. The Brathay Trust is very much about personal development and they are very long-term goals looking to develop people and having done some coaching myself it’s of interest to me.”
While he is training Lee hopes to build up support via clients at the salon as well as friends and his family and he is encouraging people to make donations.
And if you ask Lee why is doing it, it is because he will enjoy it. “The things I love about running are the opposite things I have in my day-to-day life. I do like running on my own, I like the solitude, I like the quiet and as I say to a lot of my friends, it’s a running meditation.
“You’ve got that step after step after step and the more distance, the more rhythmic it becomes and contrary to what most people think it’s actually quite relaxing. There is an exertion to it but after a particularly long distance you get great feeling afterwards and I just love that aspect.”