Fundraising heroes in training for one of the Lake District's most gruelling physical challenges

Lake District from the clouds

Last weekend two Cumbrian runners got a taste of what’s in store for them this May by checking out the marathon they will run every day, for 10 consecutive days, around England’s largest lake, Windermere.

Sonja Farish, from Barrow, and Michelle Woodcock, from Crosthwaite near Kendal, have four months left to train for one of the Lake District’s most gruelling physical challenges, the Brathay 10in10. It’s the same 26.2mile route each day involving a 1,400 feet ascent – equivalent to running up Blackpool Tower about three times.

Their Groundhog Day challenge is a fundraiser for organiser, the Ambleside based youth charity Brathay Trust who work with 7,000 youngsters every year, many of whom struggle at school, are at risk of sexual exploitation or are in, or leaving, care. The pair have pledged to raise £10,000 for Brathay so finding time to fundraise is also important.

Forty-five-year-old Michelle Woodcock, a vicar and primary school teacher, has only run one marathon before, the London Marathon in 2016. Michelle aims to train by running one marathon a week, fitting it in between teaching, helping her husband, who is also a vicar, and looking after her family. Michelle’s journey to work follows part of the 10in10 route so she’s seen the runners tackle it over the years but never thought it was for her, until now.

And Sonja, who is 50 this month, is back for her fifth 10in10. A leisure centre duty manager and instructor and a swimming teacher, Sonja says her half century goal is to raise as much money as possible this year to support young people. She’s hoping to complete two other challenges, to swim 10 miles in Windermere two days after she finishes her 10in10 and to complete the Brathay 262 event, cycling 262 miles in 24hrs on Saturday 20th June.

At the weekend Sonja and Michelle met up with 16 other people who are also running the Brathay 10in10 to get expert advice, hear about the charity’s work and to meet the Brathay support team.

To find out more about Sonja and Michelle’s challenge which starts on Friday 8th May and finishes on Sunday 17th May visit: