I started running in 2010 at the age of 36 after 10 years of not doing much in terms of sport and soon realised
that I loved running and it soon became a way of life. I then ran my 1st half marathon race 6 weeks after putting on a pair of
running shoes and my 1st marathon a year later on my 37th birthday.
I have just loved every step and have now run 36 marathons and 4 ultras as well as countless half marathons. I am also a joint
Race Director at GB Ultras so you’ll often find me supporting you from the go at GB Ultras.
5km PB – 17.14
5 mile PB – 29.08
10km PB – 35.50
Half marathon PB – 1.19.00
Marathon PB – 2.48.14
Best Ultra Position 3rd place.
What do you do for work?
I’m an IT Product Owner for a software development company based in Preston. It gives me lots of opportunities to bring to life some creative ideas and introduce new and exciting technologies which have the ability to change the way companies work.
My preferred distance is ultra-running. Whereas in a 10k or ½ or marathon, it’s all about yourself and total focus on achieving a time or beating a PB, an ultra marathon takes you beyond all of that and it’s about pushing harder for longer. The mental challenge is more than the physical at times, especially if the weather conditions are bad. I believe it’s strengthened my mental resolve and given me the belief in what I’m actually capable of. During an ultra marathon, you can absorb and appreciate the surroundings and atmosphere plus it’s a great way to meet some equally like minded people who share the same passion.
Favourite Race for 2017
This year’s favourite race for me is the Ultra Great Britain 200 mile ultra marathon. I did it in 2017 and surprised myself by finishing 4th. This year I want to apply what I learned last year during the race and see what I can achieve again. There’s a much larger starting line up this year with some impressive athletes so it’s going to be a great inspiration seeing some big names on the start line.
Plans for 2018
In 2018 I so far have the Paphos marathon, Chester Ultra, Liverpool to Manchester Ultra, Pennine Barrier Ultra lined up for the first half of the year followed by the Ultra Great Britain 212 mile Ultra-marathon in August. It moves to the Southern Upland Way in 2018 so is significantly more challenging and technical than the current route. Apart from that, it’ll be a few other local 10k’s and half or full marathons and I’ve applied to volunteer at the 4 Deserts Ultra-Marathon in the Atacama desert.
What motivates me
Doing something different and pushing my boundaries. Right from my first race in 2015, I wanted to see just what I was capable of and be challenged. When i complete a Race, I’ve always thought “what’s next”. It’s great to look back after a race and think “I just did THAT!” In the short time I’ve been running I’ve also met some great people who you know are going to be true friends. It’s also been fantastic seeing some of my running friends look at, and take part in, Ultra-Marathons when previously they’d never have remotely considered entering that sort of distance.
WHAT DO I DO
Firstly and most importantly I am a mum to 6 children and grandma
to 2. I work part time in a Coffee shop.
I don’t really have a preferred distance but don’t tend
to enter anything below marathon distance because I am not a racer and more of a plodder who hopes for a decent position and I feel half marathon distance is a faster race.
FAVOURITE RACE FOR 2017
Scott Trail Marathon, 19 miles of tough running followed
by a climb up Snowdon.
PLANS FOR 2018
I plan to remain injury free so I can compete in GB Ultras ‘Race
Across Scotland’, 214 miles and 4 days of running. All the races I enter from now until Next August will be training runs for the big one!!
FAVOURITE PIECE OF KIT
Has to be my Salomon Speedcross. I keep trying other
brands but ALWAYS sell them on and slip back into my Speedies
Debra is often seen, with her daughters Tess and Libby, helping at Checkpoints during the Races organised by GB Ultras and is a fantastic addition to the GB Ultras family.
A little bit about me
I’ve always loved being outdoors, whether it be just out playing as a kid, exploring on my bike and now running out on the trails. Its great to experience new places and new challenges and running definitely gives you this freedom. I was first introduced to long distance events when I was 13. Our school had teams for the Local Keswick to Barrow Walk (40 miles) and as a bet of a dare, myself and my friend Lee entered the event.
It was tough, it was challenging, we got blisters but after 11 hrs 15 mins, we two 13 yr olds crossed the finish line and it was an epic feeling. It was from here my love of running blossomed. After 4 years of walking the K2B, I wanted to go quicker and the only way to do that was to try running and thus my training began. In 2009 I ran my first marathon (Lancaster) and in 2012 I ran my first marathon (Edinburgh). In the year 2016 I had completed my 15th Keswick to Barrow in a time of 6 hrs 20.
My favourite Distance
This is a tricky one as I’ve always loved marathon distance, especially the trail races but now, after taking on some big races in 2017, the 200 mile distance races are really starting to grow on me. 200 miles brings a whole different dynamic to Ultra Running and your guaranteed to have your emotions stripped down to the core, to the basics and you really learn a lot about yourself and what you can achieve when going that far.
My best race of 2016
I’m in for the 2018 Ultra Great Britain, the Race Across Scotland, and this will now be the 3rd time I’m taking on the 200 Mile Race and i’m certain it will be the best experience yet as it heads to Scotland.
I recently completed a 250 mile in June and that was a tough beast but the difference with the Race Across Scotland is that it will be very hilly indeed. Bring on the challenge and I look forward to another adventure.
I’m getting there now and I’m still learning a lot in terms of the best kit for the Race ahead changes every Race. For marathon races, I’ll just run in shorts and a T-shirt and then just carry a bottle with me. For the Ultras, 50/100/200 mile races, I’ll generally run with a rucksack with 3 water bottles, still in shorts and t-shirt but also have waterproofs packed in just in case. I don’t have a garmin watch so I just use my trusty analogue watch that I have. Then from there its just go out and enjoy the adventure and see where the course takes me.
Outside of the running world
When I’m not running, I’m back in the office working. I’m a Mechanical Engineer at a shipyard in Barrow-In-Furness (My hometown). I work a 37 hour week and this definitely helps me to be able to run all these incredible races. Now that I’ve taken on Race Directing as well, setting up the Tri-Island Running Events, it is difficult to try and fit everything in but it is all coming together slowly and I’m always looking forward to the next big challenge. There were a lot of good races this year, especially the 100 mile race where I had my first date with Louise Tidbury, but all in all the favourite of 2016 has to be the Ultra Great Britain 200 mile race. It was my first time at this distance and had such a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows it was just surreal. After almost pulling out at 95 mile because of bad whether, I then went on to finish 3rd in the race and it was just such an incredible journey that I went on and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of friends, family and of course the GB Ultras Team
My Running Background:
I found running in 2009 when I completed my first marathon in London. I trained all year for the one event and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done. After going over the finish line I said ‘I’m never running ever again, not even for fun’. A woman of my word, the next morning saw me entering the ballot for 2010!
I did one marathon a year for the next 3 years; all London. Then in 2013 I entered my first ultra; the London to Brighton 100k. After this, a marathon didn’t seem so daunting and I started entering more events each year. Last year I completed 47 marathons which saw me reach the accolade of 52 marathons in 52 weeks….not bad for someone who swore never to run again! On 24th June 2017, I achieved a dream when I became a member of the 100 Marathon Club. This will always be one of my proudest moments and I still can’t believe it! Hopefully that sense of wonderment and pride will never go.
My Most Challenging Events
Being originally from Kent, My first 40 marathons were relatively flat road races. Upon meeting my boyfriend Chris, he encouraged me to branch out and I started to take on hilly trail runs. Last November saw me complete the 5 day event ‘Hell of a Hill’. It was as far out of my comfort zone as could be and introduced me to a different kind of running. My 99th Marathon this year was the Pennine Barrier Ultra. This was a 50 mile event with 10,000ft elevation. I completed it in 17 hours and struggled massively as it was nothing I was used to. It will always be my toughest race and I learnt more about myself on that event about myself as a runner and a person than anything before it.
Not only has running changed me as a person by giving me strength, self-belief and passion….it has also changed my life in a completely unexpected way. On a 50 mile event last year, I met my boyfriend Christopher Kay. 3 months later we had our first date….on a 100 mile event at Samphire Hoe. Not only did we both complete our first 100 miler, but we fell madly in love and we have been inseparable ever since, running more than 60 races together. I have now moved in with him at Barrow in Furness and look forward to many more adventures and achievements. In 2018, we are taking on the 212 Mile Ultra Great Britain, the Race Across Scotland. Its going to be an adventure of epic proportions!
I currently work as a manager for a children’s rights charity. It can be challenging but I love my job working with children in care and helping to get their voices heard. I like and dislike all races distances in equal measures! 5k’s and 10k’s hurt (a lot) but in a totally different way compared to a 50 miler. I’m definitely drawn more towards the longer distances and enjoy the challenges that come with 50/100 mile races. My favourite has to be Pennine Barrier Ultra. I was never a lover of mountain running but spending more time in Yorkshire and in the Lake District this year has given me a new love and respect for mountains. I love the varied terrain, the obstacles and the ever changing weather that comes with mountain running. I managed to complete Ultra Great Britain, the 200 mile Ultra-marathon this year after a DNF last year left me needing to set the record straight and in 2018 I’m hoping to continue training in the mountains with the ultimate goal of taking on the Bob Graham Round! I don’t have a favourite piece of kit and I don’t have lots of different trainers or kit bags or running gear. I have my favourites and I tend to stick with them even if they are slightly battered!
What do you do for work?
I am a neurological physiotherapist working with people with conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, strokes, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. I am director of a company called Physio Matters Neurological Limited and managed a small team of physiotherapists. I love my work and like to incorporate as many recreational and sporting activities into rehabilitation such as skiing, kayaking, climbing, cycling and obviously running.
I have been running since 2000 and joined Royton Road Runners in 2003. I have run marathons in the UK, Europe & the US. My favourite marathon city has been Chicago but I love the course in Berlin and the history of the Boston Marathon. My marathon PB is 3.04.15 (London 2012 – but not in the Olympics) which is OK but frustratingly close to my target of sub 3. Grr!!
In 2016, I noticed that some of my friends were doing ultras, so not wanrting to be outdone I decided to enter the Hardcastle 12 hour race and managed 47 miles. With this under my belt I thought the best things was to jump straight up to UGB200 mile race in 2016 and the rest is (recent) history!!
Favourite Race for 2017
Obviously, it’s the UGB 200 mile race, in which I beat my time by 15 hours!! I love the Ultra Great Britain Race Series and the family that has been created. I was thrilled to be asked to be a GB Ultras Ambassador.
Plans for 2018
I am going to be on the line for next year’s Scottish version of the UGB200 but doubt that I will knock another 15 hours off my time. I’m looking forward to heading for the hills and the mud. I’m also hoping to have wonderful races at Chester Ultra, GB24, L2M 100 Double and Snowdon Ultra but first I have the small issue of the full 268 mile Spine Race in January! Wish me luck!
What motivates me
I am motivated when running and racing by the clients that I treat as a physiotherapist knowing that they would love to do what I am doing and are always asking about my running exploits. I also love entering races that people say are too tough. I know that if I get that response I am aiming about right.