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  • Writer's pictureSusie Chan

2015's Heroes

What a year it’s been. Highlights have been bumbling my way through and Ironman, running 100 miles in 22hrs 28 mins (whinging all the way round – endurance moaning), A PB at Berlin Marathon, and somehow ending up finishing in the elites at the Marathon des Sables.

To recap the year, here are a small selection of people who I would like to thank for 2015. They have pushed me on, inspired me, are encouraging, jolly good eggs and my very own sporting heroes.

Naomi Newton Fisher - A set of achievements so long it’s hard to know where to start. Naomi likes to run a long way. A very, very long way. She’s excellent at it. This year as well as her usual 100k’s,100 mile and other races, she ran Grand Union Canal run. A non-stop 145 mile race from Birmingham to London. She came 3rd. She met me for tea and performed some sort of Jedi Mind-trick on me which resulted in me entering Autumn 100 with less than 4 weeks to go. When I wobbled about not being ready she made me believe in myself.

Next year Naomi is taking things to a level which will raise her up to be one of the toughest ultra runners in the country. The 147 mile Viking Way Ultra, all 4 Centurion 100 mile races and Grand Union Canal run amongst others. Naomi does all of this with a smile on her face, as she runs purely out of the love of running.

Charlotte Hanson - Several times this year I have wondered if Charlotte is genuinely trying to kill me with exercise. Having seen my dismal attempts at swimming and cycling, rather than laugh openly in my face when I told her I had signed up for an Ironman, she trained me. Hard. Charlotte can swim 100 metres in 53 seconds. She helped me with my crippling fear of open water. She has a level of focus on training like no one I have met before. If her training plan says run 5 miles at 6.58 pace, she goes out and runs 5 miles at 6.58 pace, no excuses. Next year she will be back to her crazy triathlon training regime aiming for the Triathlon World Championships again. Other notable comments on Charlotte: She will drink as many shots as you put in front of her and has the world’s cutest sausage dog.

Louise Ayling – Achingly humble wonder woman. If this lady does not have a cat on her lap she is running a long way. Louise completed the gruelling Centurion Grandslam of four 100 mile races with only a few weeks between each race. She got faster and faster and ended the year with the giant Grandslam buckle and the coveted “One hundred miles, One Day” buckle. Louise also bakes some of the most delicious sugary cakes for ultra runners. These cakes are affectionately known as “Ultra Crack” I couldn’t tell you what was in them, but if you eat one another 15 miles is not a problem. She writes lovely blogs. I look forward to seeing what 2016 brings.

Andy Cooney – It’s quite dangerous to have lunch with Andy Cooney if you like running. Every single time I have met Andy another race gets added to the bucket list. A mad, beautiful, expensive, and long ultra race somewhere exotic. I retaliate by making him sign up for soggy 10k’s and unglamorous UK road races. Andy is a very experienced runner (2.37 marathon time!) He has a penchant for the ultra stuff. TransVulcania, many Comrades Marathons, 100 milers, His blogs are funny, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, he likes a beer. After Berlin we got absolutely hammered until 2 am after just meeting up “for one post race drink” . He selflessly ran at a snail’s pace with me for hours overnight in Autumn 100. Friends like him are worth their weight in gold. He will be attempting no less than seven ultras next year, including Two Oceans, Transvulcania and the 50 mile grandslam.

Tim Jones - The nicest man on Twitter. He’s been injured (quite badly by crashing his quad bike into a tree, the goon) but does he moan endlessly about it on twitter? NO! Just a supportive, engaging, cheerful all round lovely chappie. I first met Tim at Boston Marathon last year, and he finished New York Marathon this year despite only just getting over injury. During Autumn 100 he sent some of the most uplifting messages of support to me. They changed my miserable mind-set and lifted me up. He completed a 50K ultra at the end of this year, what will 2016 bring for our Superman?

Amy Kilpin -Triathlon Inspiration. Amy is dedicated to her sport. The triathlon world is a world that can be quite elitist, intimidating and at times, takes itself too seriously. There are some really genuine and lovely people in the tri world and Amy is one of them. She trains hard, which has been rewarded by climbing the AG rankings with some impressive performances in 2015. She is the epitome of a sporting person. Endlessly polite, she doesn’t complain and gets on with it. So very encouraging, inspiring and humble. Typical of this she recently posted a picture of her at her first dualthon in 2010, how far she has come! Showing what hard work, positivity and dedication brings, she is now a honed bona fide athlete. I can’t wait to follow her in 2016.

Sophie Raworth - She is well known for reading the news for the BBC, but Sophie is also a fantastic runner, and much, much better cyclist than me. Despite only cycling for a matter of weeks (to my months) we signed up for Ride 100 and she dragged me out to go cycling up and down the Surrey hills. I was forever trying to keep up with her back wheel. Ride 100 was not long after my disappointing Ironman ride. Sophie and our friend Ben Wickham, carried me round the course in a time that was easy for them, but it nearly killed me! It was superb! We met in Boston last year and have gone on to do many races and train together. Sophie & I are trying to become one of the very small number of women so far to do all six World Marathon Majors. Sophie completed New York Marathon this year, having completed the Boston / London back to back last year raising thousands for Charity.

Cat Simpson - Wanderlust meets tiny powerhouse ultra runner. I met Cat a couple of years ago, when she turned up for her first ever ultra. A 3 day multistage race, which she won. Easy going, sweet, funny, and so badass at running. We have run races together she’s the perfect ultra partner, great company and unstoppable. Fact: I have more pictures of me and Cat running than me and my husband. This year she completed the tough North Downs Way 100, and won The Ultra Trail Torres del Paine in Chile. A family of runners, her lovely dad is running his way through the alphabet in Marathons. He’s just done the letter Q – Queenstown Marathon. Her husband Jon has run 148 marathons. Head over to her Instagram page to see where she is this week…

Shaun Marsden - Where would we be without the support of our partners? Shaun started this year as my boyfriend and ended the year as my husband after a well-documented proposal at the finish line of the MdS. Despite a very close scrape with heat stroke, puking up litres of water and passing out a lot, he completed the 250km hiding the diamond ring in dirty pants. Romance right there. Many years in the army and 4 war medals have equipped him well to be unflappably calm in the face of my race day melodrama. Frequently I hear and see people negotiating race weekends away with their partners. In our house it’s encouraged. Supportive beyond belief, he’s simply wonderful. Going from his first marathon in 2013 to multipule Ultra marathon finisher in less than 24 months, Shaun has got the 250k Arctic Ice Ultra, 50 mile Grandslam, and Jungle ultra next year. Let’s hope he still has time to be the uncredited photographer on my runs…. <3

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