|A typical day sees Mark get up in the morning and head to work, window cleaning from 8am, finishing by 2pm, then lacing up his runners and heading out to clock another marathon distance. Click to enlarge.|
90 marathons in 90 days not enough for fundraiser Mark: For most mere mortals running one marathon is an epic achievement following months of training and aches and pains. But its not enough for the 32-year-old who is now planning to hit the 400 mark for marathons - all within one year. He has shed buckets, hit walls of pain and even worn out 14 pairs of trainers on his huge adventure.
The 32-year-old from Penkridge planned to raise £90,000 in total, but has so far raised £4,300 - although he still hopes to generate more. Mark, who completed his 90th marathon in 3 hours and 24 minutes in Chester on Sunday, said he was 'over the moon' to have reached his initial goal. He said: “I feel good, I feel positive but, wow, it was tough. I passed out on the line. “Some of the route was uphill – hitting the 24th mile and having to run uphill was not ideal but still I got there and I couldn’t have achieved this without all my supporters."
Mark’s initial 2,340-mile challenge, which started kicked off in July, came about so he could raise vital funds and awareness for Katharine House Hospice in Stafford and Tommy’s, the baby charity that funds research into pregnancy problems and provides information to parents. The driving force behind Mark’s efforts is his wife, Tammy, who has endured six miscarriages and has found the support from the Tommy’s charity a huge help.
|Having crossed the finishing line of 90 marathons in 90 days - you might now expect super runner & window cleaner Mark Vaz to throw in the towel. He's planning on running 400 marathons in a year.|
Having already smashed the world record of running 53 marathons over 53 consecutive days, his next sigh in on doing 239 in a year, a record set by American Larry Macon in 2013. And he will not be stopping there though, with the world record attempt part of his challenge called 9090 & Beyond, which will see him tackling 400 marathons in a year - doubling up on some days - as well as a 400 mile Manchester to London return trip, and Land's End to John O'Groats in April.
His goal during the past 90 days was to raise cash, but now he accepts over the past 12 weeks pounding the streets and countryside has become such a way of life for the window cleaner he is not quite ready to leave it all behind him. He is even planning to write a book on his experiences to raise more cash for the charities, with his fundraising tally a long way off his target. He concedes it was an ambitious target to set.
And the money raised is one of the niggling doubts that creeps into Mark's mind during low days. He says: "I was very close to quitting this morning if I am being honest with you. It was just one of those days, you get those dark days and you wonder why you are doing it. "But I've kept going, I don't want to give up."
The practical side of running a marathon every single day, and more than one on some days, is also taking its toll. Needing to consume at least 5,000 calories each day - the average man needs half of this - Mark says as well as the usual pasta and carb-heavy meals, some days he ends up at McDonalds 'just to pack in the calories'. "I am losing too much weight. Me and my physio worked out I need 5,000 calories a day, minimum, but it is very hard to sustain that really," he says.
His physiotherapist, Active Therapy's Andrew Caldwell, has also been a key aspect of his success so far. Mark says he sees him once a week, sometimes twice: "He has been really good to me he has. "Believe me, I have had my injuries, I have just run through it. I trained for it for quite awhile, and I have had injuries I have just been fortunate enough to find a good physio. "I have walked a couple only because I have had no choice, but I have still done the distance."
A typical day sees Mark get up in the morning and head to work for 8am, finishing by 2pm, then lacing up his runners and heading out to clock another marathon distance. He says: "If I am busy at night I get up and do my marathon at 3am, then go in to work. "I do get some sleep, if I am not running or working I am sleeping. It definitely is a challenge."
|Mark completes a marathon at the Black Country Museum.|
It is also proving to be a challenge financially, he says. Along with his grocery bills shooting up to cope with the sheer amount of extra food he needs to fuel each day, the entry fees for official marathons, travel costs, and accommodation are all adding up, as well as missing time at work for some of the events. Mark says: "It has cost me a lot of money to do this challenge, I wouldn't like to think how much it has cost me."
He is upfront when he says a large part of completing the 9090 & Beyond challenge will come down to finances, and at the moment plans for a Manchester to London round trip, totalling 400 miles, have stalled as he tries to find accommodation. As well as the gruelling physical and financial demands - Mark has worn through 14 pairs of trainers donated by sponsor New Balance - the toughest battle he faces is mental.
He says: "It is all in your head now. It is a nightmare sometimes. "This morning I wanted to quit but then I spoke to my friends. It was just a number of things, and I was telling them all this and they said just keep doing what you are doing, they persuaded me to keep going."
Another rock for Mark is his wife, Tammy, who has supported his challenge from the very beginning - although he does let out a bit of a chuckle when asked her reaction to his plans to more than quadruple his efforts. "Because we have sort of got that balance now, we have got a routine going and because it is a good balance we can keep going really," he says. "But I am realistic because too much...well, life's a bit more important sometimes."
The people he has met along the way have also been a great boost to him, he says, whether they be supporters or fellow runners. When asked what the highlights of the past few months have been, other than completing his 90 marathons goal, his answers all involve people, including Stoke FIT Running Club, Shrewsbury Town Football Club, and various other running clubs. Mark says: "If it wasn't for the people I wouldn't be able to do the challenge to be honest, it would just make it boring wouldn't it?"
|Running the first of his 90 marathons.|
He also mixes up his running routes each day to keep things interesting, and in the process has become an expert on local distances. "Oh, it is completely different every day, oh god I would get bored wouldn't I?" he says. "I now know in my head how far everything is. Stafford from my house is 8.5 miles, so I go to Stafford and do a few miles around town, and then run home."
Every single mile is logged in his Garmin watch, which is the main recorder for the Guinness Book of World Records. As well as taking photographs at each event and getting witness statements, there is a lot of admin work involved in breaking world records - sometimes 'more bloody admin than running', Mark says.
It is not, however, all about the records, although they do help to raise awareness and attract attention to his fundraising drive. Because running 90 consecutive marathon distances - now an even more impressive 400 - certainly attracts some interesting reactions. Mark laughs: "Crazy. Mad. Some people say I am absolutely bonkers but they know why I am doing it.