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Pounding pavements to raise money for Pals

Rose-Anna Hoey ran 30 miles before most of us got out of bed this morning.

She'll likely do something similar a few more times this week.

She isn't crazy. She's in training, part of a Bermuda team of six that will run 50 miles on November 18 to raise money for cancer charity Pals.

“Pals is quite close to my heart,” she said. “I had two family members who survived cancer in Ireland and I just feel Pals is such an inclusive charity. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, they will look after you. I work in the hospice and to see the relationship the nurses have with their patients, it's extraordinary. They provide psychological support, equipment to help them stay at home and it's not just for those in the more terminal stages. The support they provide is unparalleled, really.”

Still, running 50 miles at once is a commitment even for Mrs Hoey, an avid racer with six marathons under her belt.

She's hoping the training she is doing with Laura Wright and Darin Cassidy will get her through the JFK 50 Mile. Experienced ultra marathoners Mark Harris and Anne Kermode, and Jamie-Lee Wright, who completed the Race to the Stones 100km challenge this summer, have also signed up for the trek.

“I was lured by thought of an ultra marathon,” the 36-year-old said. “How far can you push a body? How long can you run for? Laura and Darin and I spoke about maybe doing one, but we've all got young kids so we had to speak with our spouses for training.”

Once they got the go-ahead, they e-mailed fellow Mid Atlantic Athletic Club member Mark Harris for tips about the annual race which starts in Boonsboro, Maryland and ends in Williamsport. The path goes along part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and involves more than 1,000ft of climbing on the 13-mile Appalachian Trail. To prepare, they had to run “an awful lot”.

“We had to incorporate some speed, but not to the same intensity [as when training for a regular race],” Mrs Hoey said.

“We mainly focused on longer runs. For example, a few weeks ago we ran a 12-mile and a 31-mile back to back, to get used to our legs being very fatigued. Certainly in the last 10 weeks we've run at least 70 miles per week. Some weeks 60, some weeks 80.”

She laughed: “You've got to go to bed early and get up early; sometimes, we encourage the kids to nap. We leave for our long runs around 4am, or sometimes even earlier! I believe the earliest Darin started was at 3.30am. We tend to do midweek runs at 5am so we are at home well before 7am to carry out mommy/daddy duties or so those without kids can get to work on time. I've got a three-year-old son, Laura has two kids — 4 and almost 2 — and Darin has a one-year-old son. We get up at crazy hours, get our runs in and get on with our family duties. It is a challenge having a young family, but it is manageable.”

Mrs Hoey started running in 2009 after a doctor warned her off training in a gym because of health issues.

“I enjoyed it from the start,” she said. “I did my first marathon four and a half months later and I got the bug, to be honest. I ran with a digital watch, followed the markers and really enjoyed the long journey. It inspired me to run more.”

She completed that first race, the Dublin Marathon in 3hrs 45mins.

“People around me were telling me that was really good,” she said. “I had no idea. I just knew how much I'd enjoyed it.”

Her fastest time was the Boston Marathon, which she finished in 2:58.

Runners have 13 hours to complete the JFK 50, Mrs Hoey expects it won't take them any longer than nine.

“Once you hit the Appalachian Trail, I thought it'd be pretty scenic,” she said. “It made me really want to do it. The joy of this race is that it's on a few surfaces, so it gives your body a different challenge every few miles.

“On the trail you climb over 1,000 feet in a few miles and then descend. I'm more scared of that than the 50 miles. We don't have the opportunity to practice that kind of descent here in Bermuda.”

The one thing she's certain of is her plans for recuperating once the race is done.

“Laura and I are going to Washington DC for two nights and we've already booked a spa,” she said.

Support the runners here: http://bit.ly/2gYaKlh

From left: Rose-Anna Hoey with PALS executive director Colleen English De Grilla, Laura Wright and Jamie-Lee Wright. (Photograph supplied)

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Published November 01, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated November 01, 2017 at 7:39 am)

Pounding pavements to raise money for Pals

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