Kathryn Alty: the running blogger always with her next challenge in sight

WE TALK to Kathryn Alty about how her first marathon set her off on a journey full of sporting challenges and triumphs.


Kathryn Alty had always been inspired by long distance running but it wasn’t until 2015 that she ran her first full-distance marathon.

HAVING enjoyed watching the London marathon on TV since she was young Kathryn Alty always knew she would one day compete in such a race. It was in 2015 that she ran in her first marathon and the rest is history. It gave her the inspiration to complete the Deloitte Ride Across Britain the following year and that became the spark which set her off on a life-changing journey. Today she’s never not training for a sporting challenge and is a passionate blogger at www.challengeseeker.net where she shares her progress, thoughts and experiences with the online community.


Kathryn raises money for Macmillan Cancer Support and St Catherine’s Hospice, two charities very close to her heart, and took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her current efforts as well as where she draws her inspiration from. Read on to find out about the challenges she’s completed to date and the ’12 challenges in 12 months’ she’s been working towards this year.


What inspired you to run the marathon which became the catalyst for your sporting challenges and blog?


Having watched the London Marathon on TV for as many years as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to run a marathon. Having completed a few half marathons before, I’d caught a bit of the running bug and in 2015 decided I wanted to achieve two things: the first, run a sub two-hour half marathon, the second, run a sub four-hour marathon. My sister fell ill while I was training for my marathon, she was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in July 2015, by August it was terminal and she sadly passed away. I decided to dedicate the marathon in her memory just a month later in September 2015.


The catalyst for the blog and my other sporting challenges came after I completed the Deloitte Ride Across Britain in September 2016. A year earlier I’d tumbled over the handlebars of my new road bike and barely knew what I was doing. I knew it would be a big ask, but I also knew the training would be my own form of therapy. Along my training journey, I noticed the positive effect the whole thing was having on my nephew and parents, I think my own form of therapy and healing was also healing them too.


The blog started in September 2016 after I’d decided that 2017 would be my year of challenges – 12 challenges in 12 months.


Tell us about the process of training for the marathon and the support you were given by friends and family?


Marathon training was a very solo mission for me! I’d found an 18-week training plan and was sticking to it. All was going well until the 18-mile training run. That training run was due the week that my sister passed away.


Running was always my therapy – so I threw myself at it, running away from all the sadness but I had to stop at mile 12 and call for a lift home. In tears I just couldn’t run anymore. So I didn’t, with a month to go until the marathon the training stopped, until I woke up on a sunny Sunday back in London and decided it would be the day, with no real route in mind I set off from my front door and ran and it felt glorious. I felt like I was running on air and finished my 18-miles at race pace. After that, I knew I’d be okay.


Find out more about Kathryn and follow her blog at www.challengeseeker.net.

How did the race go and what were the highs and lows of your first ever marathon?


The race started well. The first 13.1 miles flew by – there were hundreds of others running either the marathon or half-marathon and the atmosphere and buzz was so inspiring. However, when the half marathon runners finished, I realised that I had all that to do again!


After that was a struggle. After my fastest ever half marathon, my legs started to feel it! By mile 15 I was crawling, there were so few people around (both runners and spectators) and the heat started to get to me. I kept moving forward, but slowly, until Beyonce’s Who Run the World came on to my playlist and I realised that I was running my world today, no running, no sub-4 hour marathon. And so I got my mojo back and sailed to mile 25. That’s when all the emotion hit me, in tears I saw the home straight and didn’t think I had anything left, until someone behind said “do it for Tracy” (I had her name on the back of my running top) and I sprinted to my sub-4 hour marathon finish line and hugs from my amazing spectator family.


Lands End to John O'Groats

Kathryn pictured at the finish of her Lands End to John O’Groats cycle challenge.


How did that marathon inspire you to go and set yourself more sporting challenges and what came next


The feeling of crossing the finish line was a huge triumph, especially when it was under my four-hour target. Seeing my nephew smile, and my Mum and Dad happy, was a big push to find something new to train for. I knew how much focus the marathon training had given me and I knew that to deal with my own grief I needed something even bigger to focus on – that’s when I found the Deloitte Ride Across Britain (a 9-day LEJOG cycling challenge).


What other sporting challenges have you taken part in or are you currently training for?


Cycling the length of the country gave me an even bigger push to do more. It gave me this incredible gift of belief. I was by no means the fastest or the most competent cyclist, but I loved every single second of it. The event had so many inspiring individuals there and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned that you’re always more capable than you think you are, that taking the time to train pays dividends and that even the biggest and most far-fetched challenges are achievable with a little belief and support.


During 2017 I’ve been attempting to complete 12 challenges in 12 months. So far this year I have:


Completed a 30-day core challenge, ending in a 3-minute plank
Run 100 miles in February
Cycled up just over 20 mountains in 4 days in Mallorca
Cycled from London to Leyland in 2 days
Swam my first 3.8km open water swim
Cycled the Medio Fondo Dragon Ride in Wales
Completed the olympic distance Windsor Triathlon
Cycled the Dunwich Dynamo
Completed the Reykjavik Marathon
Organised and completed my very own IronMan


Number 11 I’ve just completed as I attempt to swim the width of the channel (22 miles) in 12 weeks. That was the Aspire Channel Swim and I completed it in 11 weeks. 


Number 12 will be the Rapha Festive 500 as I attempt to cycle 500km between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Even (probably mostly in rainy Lancashire!).


This year has been tough and I think my body is feeling it now, but I’m determined to keep pushing and tick off the last 2 challenges. I’ve been so inspired by everyone’s encouragement and words of support.


Especially as I organised and completed my own IronMan, I couldn’t have done that without the help of my family and friends.


2018’s challenge is already lined up too, as I’m due to complete the Deloitte Ride Across Britain again, but this time with my Dad – I’m so incredibly proud of him for signing up and I think training for the event is already giving him a huge boost.


Tell us about the fundraising and the charities which benefit?


I fundraise for two charities: Macmillan Cancer Support and St Catherine’s Hospice, Preston. Both of these organisations were incredible in supporting both my sister and family during her short battle and in the months and years after her death. As soon as my sister was diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support were on hand for every question or query. Their support and guidance really helped through what was a chaotic and confusing time.


When it was realised that Tracy was terminal, St Catherine’s stepped in to ensure she had a place to die with dignity and her family around her. Their counselling and advice afterwards and since has been a huge support to the whole family.


What can our readers expect from your blog and what is the message you are trying to get out to the world?


Updates on the challenges and training – with lots of honesty when it doesn’t go right! I want to show people that it’s possible to achieve whatever goal you set for yourself, whether that’s running your first 5km or doing an ultra marathon – a little belief in yourself will go a very long way. I write for my nephew and family first and foremost, in the hope that my various crazy attempts at physical, endurance challenges will inspire them.

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