Appliance of science for an ultra-marathon test

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Eastbourne athlete Karen Breese has stepped into the laboratories this week to try and use science to help her complete her first ever ultra-marathon.

Karen has completed over 50 half marathons and 11 full marathons since she took up running in 2006 and has always wanted to complete an ultra-marathon, which is a long distance run over the 26.2 miles of a regular marathon.

Karen has set her sights in particular on the ‘Thames Trot Ultra 50’, a gruelling 50-mile run from Oxford to Henley on Thames that will take place on February 4 of next year.

To help her complete this mammoth task is Matt Young, a University of Brighton student studying a Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Science.

“Matt approached me and asked if I wanted to be the subject for his study, which is basically trying to help me change from a marathon runner into an ultra-marathon runner,” she said.

“I’m doing lactic acid tests and VO2 Max tests, which will go on for about eight weeks and will monitor things like my breathing and heart rate.

“It’s really helpful for me because I can find out how science can enhance my performance.

“There’s a big difference between the two races, like what to eat during it. Some ultra-marathon runners even eat pizza because it’s all about feeding your body and fuelling up for the run.”

Karen, who trains five days a week, is raising money in aid of Wildlife Rescue; a charity that she has raised over £1,000 for already from her previous achievements.

They include running nine races over the course of nine weeks earlier this year – a total distance of 156 miles.

Karen is confident she will reach the standard needed to complete the ultra-marathon in the allotted 11-hour time slot.

“I’m only an amateur athlete but I aim to encourage other people to see how far you can go when you put your mind to it.”

And Karen doesn’t stop there. While she plans to complete just the one ultra-marathon, she would like to run three marathons in three days – the Beachy Head, Snowdon and Dublin races –at some point in the future.

Anybody can find out more information about Karen’s cause by visiting her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ultramarathon50miles.