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The Strain of Running 48 Marathons in 30 Days
William Goodge, a 27-year-old model, ultra runner, and former pro rugby player, ran 48 marathons in 30 days to raise money in the fight against cancer. We break down the strain, sleep, and recovery from his incredible feat.
In 2018, William Goodge lost his mother Amanda to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. She was just 53 years old. He took up running around that time to help him deal with the grief, using the sport as a form of therapy. Each of the past three years William has accomplished a major endurance event to honor his mother’s memory and raise money for charity.
Ultra Running to Battle Cancer
Two years ago in 2019, William ran 850 miles across the length of the British Isles. Last year, William did his own take on the “12 Days of Christmas” by running a dozen consecutive marathons over the 12 days leading up to the holiday. William had planned to run across 45 countries in Europe in 30 days, but unfortunately COVID restrictions made that impossible. Instead, he decided to adapt his fundraising event to stay in his home country in 2021. The result? Running a full 26.2-mile marathon in each of the UK’s 48 counties over a 30-day span, concluding with the London Marathon on October 3.
William completed his 48th marathon in 30 days when he ran the London Marathon on October 3.
48 Marathons in 30 Days: Fueling, Strain, Sleep & Recovery
From September 4 through October 3, William ran just over 1,257 miles, completing at least one marathon every day, and many days two. “I ran either one or two marathons a day, so it was 18 double days and 12 singles,” he said, noting that on one occasion he didn’t stop running until 11:30 pm. How did he handle those double-marathon days? “Fuel wise I’d have a light breakfast, usually cereal and some fruit,” William told us. “Then I would go out for an hour-and-a-half to two hours, hoping to cover 10-13 miles. Then at that first stop I’d [eat] something more substantial, a pastry, more fruit, maybe some toast or eggs. Then out for another hour-and-a-half hoping to reach 20 miles. After that I’d have a sandwich or pasta, a protein bar, something salty like crisps or nuts. Then I’d go for the last six miles and get back to a cooked meal. I’d eat that then go for a nap. Once I woke up it was taking on sugars and caffeine to go and do another one, basically the same as the first!” William spent the 30 days living, sleeping, and recovering in a specially equipped van, with the aid of a three-man support crew. “I planned the routes the year before, trying to make them as flat as possible,” he explained. “The camper and the team were never too far away.”
William Lived out of a van for 30 days while running a marathon in each of the United KIngdom's 48 counties.
On the morning of his first run in Northumberland, William awoke with a 96% WHOOP recovery, an indication that his body was primed to perform and a great sign that he was well prepared to take on the daunting task at hand. He posted a 20.5 strain (a WHOOP metric for cardiovascular exertion on a 0-21 scale) that day while running his first marathon. Impressively, William was still 75% recovered on Day 2, in which he upped his strain to 20.7. In fact, William was able to keep his recovery green (67% and higher) for each of the first 12 days of his epic event. On top of that, he actually went the entire 30 days and 48 marathons, averaging strain close to 20 each day, without a single red recovery (33% and below). Below you can see Williams daily averages for strain, sleep, and recovery:
William's average strain, sleep & recovery stats tracked by WHOOP.
Eventually the immense workload did start to take its toll on William’s body, and for Days 26-29 his recovery dipped into the 40s. However, for the final leg of his journey William was back in the green and 78% recovered on the day of the London Marathon. He ran the race in 3 hours and 6 minutes, posting a 20.7 day strain (tied for his highest of any of the 30 days).
Unofficial World Record
After crossing the finish line in London, William set an unofficial world record for the number of marathons run in 30 days. He told us his best time was the final marathon in London (3:06), with his average being about 5 hours each and his worst clocking at 7:11. William has raised over £36,700 to date for MacMillan Cancer Support. We can’t wait to see what challenge he takes on next year.