6 Marathons In 6 Days
Sundried ambassador Harry Kleiman is an endurance runner who decided to tackle the challenge of running 6 marathons in 6 consecutive days to take him 156 miles along the stunning Jurassic coast of the UK. With his friend Adam Swycher, they ran from Southampton to Exeter with no GPS trackers and all their provisions carried on their backs. Here's how they go on! This report is written by both Harry and Adam.
We had always wanted to do an intense running expedition but we never thought that we would finally settle on running six marathons in six days. We are both long distance runners and we wanted to push ourselves to our limits and achieve something memorable.
Choosing the route was easy. Adam has driven along the scenic south west coast of the UK between his home in London and university in Exeter many times. However, he had never really explored the coastline that he had driven so many times before and felt it was time to change this.
Training for specific races isn’t an alien concept for us because we have both competed in races and stuck to strict training plans in the past. However, we had only allowed ourselves about three and a half months to train for running six consecutive marathons while carrying a bag which weighed about a third of our body weight. We started with long training runs and slowly introduced a weighted bag. We also included sessions with steep elevation gain as the coast would be hilly. We followed similar routines to most marathon training plans, running a variety of distances throughout the week at varying speeds with a long run at the end of the week. What did differ, however, was the fact that we ran the full 26.2 miles on multiple occasions before we started as we wanted to feel comfortable with the distance.
We planned to carry all our food, clothes, essentials and camping equipment on our backs and to do it as simply as possible - no support, just the two of us. We knew that we would have to pack light for our run and found that Matador’s Beast28 Packable Technical Backpack was ideal as it’s light but sturdy, making it perfect for running the distances that we were travelling.
We pondered for a long time how we would be able to get the best night’s sleep whilst carrying the least amount of equipment on our journey. I decided that hammocks would be more useful than tents as, not only are they lighter, we wouldn't have to worry about uneven, damp, or rocky flooring. Hammock Bliss’ Sky Tent 2 and two single hammocks were perfect because those three items weighed just under 1.7kg. The Sky Tent 2 is a waterproof and bug-proof tent that is suspended and two hammocks are hung inside bunk bed style.
After catching an early train from London to Southampton we began our first marathon, running through the New Forest - we were absolutely buzzing. Without knowing what exactly we were in for or where we would be sleeping, we headed west and followed signs within the forest. The first day went without any problems and we found the perfect place to wild camp. We set up our hammocks with ease and started cooking. We had bought tins of tuna, beans, instant porridge sachets and rice for a hot dinner/lunch. We packed enough food for the first three days and then restocked for the last three.
After a good night’s sleep, we packed up and started running southwest towards the coast when our first setback hit after two hours of running. We realised we had about 20 ticks all over our bodies. Ticks are small insects that live in long grass and can carry Lyme Disease, a potentially serious virus. Not wanting to take a risk, we visited a local doctor who was able to remove them and reassured us that we had no more ticks on our bodies, albeit we had to forgo about three hours of the day.
Camping that night, however, we realised that some of the ticks had found their way to some very questionable areas of our bodies. So, with a torch in one hand and tweezers in the other, we took turns, solidifying our friendship as we went…
Our third and fourth marathons were undoubtedly the hardest, both physically and mentally, with our bodies really put to the test and the realisation that we were only just passing the halfway mark. I started to suffer from blisters just before midday, but Trail Toes had provided us with enough blister cream to last a lifetime and pushing through the pain was easier than stopping to then start again. Adam also developed a pinched nerve in his shoulder, but with enough padding, we were able to push through the most scenic part of our journey. Our determination and long-distance training started to pay off during this period and we gave each other the spirit to continue.
As we woke up on our fifth day, spirits suddenly jumped back up again because we knew we were close to completing the challenge. Our clothes had been cleaned thanks to Scrubba, a portable ‘washing machine’, so we were feeling fresh and ready to go. We had not been able to find two suitable trees to hang our hammocks between, so we used our Sky Tent 2 as a normal tent on the ground. The base of it is waterproof, so we just attached one side to a fence and pegged the other in the grass.
Day five felt sluggish, but that was expected, as our bodies continued to resent us for the pain that was developing in our feet and backs, but we were determined to keep a good pace. Energy levels were running low, but we had lots of snacks that mostly consisted of Clif Bars and Clif Shot Energy Gel for protein and energy.
We were waking up at about 6 am on the last couple of days so we could finish our marathons earlier. Our “relaxation and rest” time after the marathons consisted of swimming and rock climbing and then eventually some cooking and falling asleep from exhaustion at about 8:30 pm. We wanted to explore the areas we were running through as well, so it was great that we got to have some fun along the coast.
Day six was finally upon us and it felt great. We blocked out the pain and exhaustion as we ran the whole of the last marathon smiling whilst discussing what our first proper meal would be. Once we saw the first signs for Exeter, we knew we were almost there. We knew there were a house, a bath and a beer waiting for us not too far away.
We finally made it and we had completed our challenge. We successfully ran six marathons in six days from Southampton to Exeter whilst camping each night and carrying all our gear on our backs.
Spending a couple of days resting in Exeter was much needed to get us back to our normal running routine. I am currently training for the Amsterdam Marathon in October and it’s great because the long runs now seem a lot shorter and less painful than they used to!
We’re both very chuffed that we managed to complete our 6 in 6 challenge and we will definitely be doing similarly intense challenges in the future - maybe completing a marathon on every continent? Running to Paris? Or maybe an Ironman? The possibilities are endless and we can’t wait.
We decided to do a challenge so extreme to simply put our physical and mental strength to the test, but to also encourage other young people to get out and do something active. We know not everyone can simply put on a pair of running shoes and run six marathons in six days, but we want to show people that there are much better things than sitting on the sofa watching Netflix. We’re nothing special - just a couple of guys who decided to go on a run!