St. Helens born Hazel Fairhurst, a 53 year old runner with the local ‘Trail ‘n’ Ale’ club, produced a sensational display of endurance, guts and determination to finish in 2nd place at the prestigious Continental Thunder Run at Catton Park in Derbyshire at the weekend.
Thunder Run attracts runners from across the world and is a 24 hour race consisting of continuous 10km loops around the estate. The majority of runners form teams to complete the course as a relay. However, the irrepressible Fairhurst entered the phenomenally tough solo event. Toeing the line at noon on Saturday, she faced running the muddy, undulating course almost non-stop, day and night, until Sunday lunchtime.
The physical and mental challenge this presents is difficult to comprehend. But Fairhurst rose to the challenge with support from her many friends and clubmates out on the course. Entering the final stages of the race in 3rd place, around eight minutes behind the runner ahead, she somehow summoned the strength and speed to close the gap and pass her rival minutes from the finish.
Over the course of the 24 hours, Fairhurst covered a barely believable 93 miles. A phenomenal achievement in any circumstances, but heavy rain early in the race had turned parts of the course into a mud bath. Of her incredible achievement, Fairhurst was typically modest in thanking her supporters: ‘I feel humble for the support and in awe of the occasion’. When asked how such a feat was possible, she explained ‘I’ve got endurance, that relentless mentality, plus patience built in. Maybe you can’t train for those. They’re just there’