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"I've got a weird sadistic urge..."

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

You may want to sit down, this could take a while.

Last week was a bit of an interesting one, in a really good way.

You may or may not remember back in 2018 I wrote a blog about one of my clients called Tim O'Hanlon. It was titled 'What ever happened to Tim'.

Follow the link if you'd like to have a read.

It was a pretty inspirational piece telling of how one guy turned his life around from unfit good time guy to ultra runner in the space of 2 years.

Well, what follows is somewhat of an extension to that. Prepare to have your mind blown.

At the end of the above blog you'll see that he'd booked a once in a lifetime trip to Everest Base Camp. Well, that goal was reached and breached...

After recovering from this incredible experience, Tim's running bug had come back and, inspired by his friends, Jonny Milner- who was 1st male in the Hardmoors Grand Slam last year, and myself - doing the GB Ultra Pennine Barrier 50, Hardmoors 60 and Hardwolds 80 last year. Tim decided to enter the Hardmoors 55

Training got under way at the beginning of 2020 and progress was good.

The start date for the HM55 was getting near but, as we all know, a massive spanner was thrown into the works in the form of the global pandemic that is Covid-19.

The race got postponed (as was the case with so many races this year). 2020 the year of quarantine.

It wasn't long before furloughing put Tim at home and lockdown ensured a restriction on getting out and about. The mental cogs started turning.

Sure enough, whilst sitting at my desk, my phone goes. A text message from Tim. On reading it a wry smile crept across my face, it read.......

"I've got a weird, sadistic urge to do a marathon a day next week. Mon - Fri, talk me out of it please....."

Of course I did exactly the opposite...... "Are you going to do it for charity?" I said.

"Having a look now, probably something to do with what's going on now, the NHS."

And so it began.

He should've known better than to ask me to talk him out of something like this. I know how hard he's trained for the HM55 and what a way to not waste that training. I sensed an opportunity.

He also knew I wouldn't, that's why he asked.

A Just Giving page was set up with a £500 target. I planned 3 challenging routes of (about) marathon distance in and around the Hambleton Hills. I also cycled them to check them out......GAME ON!

Support was essential but we also had to abide by the Government social distancing rules. I'd cycle to pre-arranged checkpoints with water and food, he would run alone between each one.

How hard could it be?

Monday 20th April was the day of the first one. The route went from Thirsk and Tim's front door - White Horse bank, to Rievaulx and back via Cold Kirby and Bagby, returning to Tim's front door. A challenging loop with relentless windy conditions although it was great having a back wind home on each day.

Marathon #1 complete with little to no drama. Confidence was high.

Tuesday 21st April and the second

marathon. Tim had looked after his legs and eaten well after the previous test. He'd also managed a good nights sleep on top so day 2 started well. This time over to Felixkirk, Boltby and up towards Hawnby and another loop that came down the far side of Boltby Forest but a slightly different route back to his front door.

Another successful run out with little to no drama. Confidence was building, the training was paying off, social distancing rules were being met as there was pretty much no-one around for both routes so far.

Marathon #2 complete.

Wednesday 22nd April and marathon day 3. This was the longest of the routes and, as the wind had died down, was also the hottest. This route was particularly undulating and would therefore test the metal a little more.

The route went back out via Felixkirk, retracing his steps but with an altered route up the back side of Boltby Forest. This led up to the Cleveland way and North to the turnaround point at Thimbleby. Here it's a steady descent to Over Silton, Borrowby, Thornton Le Street and back to Thirsk and Tim's front door.

This one took it out of him. Tired legs and fatigue were going to be the enemies going forward, this is where it became a mental game.

Marathon #3 complete.

Thursday 23rd April was marathon day 4 with Tuesdays route being done in reverse. Things went well until the 27Km mark and the previous 3 marathons had taken their toll.

Some bouts of walking had made their way into proceedings. Pain in the feet and knees were starting to dominate Tim's mind. A mental battle was being waged as his body was trying to tell him to quit but a strong will, discipline and courage were called upon to take their place.

Tim pretty much walked back from Boltby to just outside Thirsk but to my astonishment he managed to summon up enough energy to run into Sowerby to the finish.

A painful end to marathon #4. Would that be enough to dissuade him from attempting the 5th and final one?

Marathon #4 complete.

Friday 24th April and the start of day 5. The discomfort was obvious and a decision was made to make this run somewhat flatter than the rest. Downhills were too painful but he had some sticks to help. The weather was kinder but still warm and spirits were at a great level as this was the last day - adrenaline was pumping and failure was not an option.

The sponsorship had gone over the £7000 mark, way above expectations. This was fueling Tim's desire to smash this final day out of the water, onwards and upwards.

He set off in the direction of Bagby and Balk then across to Sutton Under Whitestonecliffe, Boltby and Felixkirk. A trot and walk strategy was in place for this as the pain was hounding him all the way. Leaning on the sticks to keep the pressure off and still making progress albeit slow. There were no time limits, just get the job done, one step at a time. This was the mantra.

Then Kirby Knowle and on to South Kilvington where the river offered some cooling relief to hot, sore feet. Out and across Newsham road towards Sandhutton, Carlton Miniott and off-road to Green lane on the outskirts of Thirsk. 

A rather surprising amount of pace came from nowhere. This last 13km were to be the fastest of the day. Not sure if it was a nearing of the finish or the fact he'd had some Lean Greens and a banana. Amazing what a shot of vitamins and minerals can do.

The home strait had arrived after a grueling 8+ hours of painful running. No event of this length (be it over 5 days or 1) comes without pain. It's always about how you deal with it and having the mental strength to keep on keeping on. Tim was spurred on by all the messages of support, and the desire to raise money for an incredible cause.

Marathon #5 complete.

It took Tim 8:49:06 to complete that final marathon. He raised, at last count, a whopping £10,500 for the NHS. The just giving page is open until Friday 1st May, if you'd like to support and donate then click HERE.

I took a lot of photos and videoed each of the finishes, putting them together in a little montage which you can see if you click HERE. Apologies for the music.

I take my hat off to this guy for stepping up and doing this. I am having massive "proud trainer" moments every time I think about it.

I think you'll agree it's an awesome thing to do but to have the confidence in yourself and your own ability is something else.

Well done Tim Lad. Incredible effort bud.

In Fitness & In Health

John 'Running Legend Maker' Withinshaw

P.S. If you're interested in Tim's running plan and would like to know how we can tailor one to suit your needs then you can contact John by email at For more info about or products and services then visit

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