Lake District Reverend revs up for marathon mission

Michelle vicar 262 miles

Lakeland vicar and part-time teacher, Michelle Woodcock has started training for an extra special mission in May 2020, involving 262 miles of lakeland terrain. 

The 45-year-old will run 10 marathon laps around England’s largest lake, Windermere – starting on Friday 8th May and finishing on Sunday 17th May.

 Michelle will run the same 26.2mile route each day, ascending 1,400 feet – equivalent to running up Blackpool Tower nearly three times. It’s a challenge of epic proportions, a test of mental and physical endurance say organisers, the Ambleside based youth charity Brathay Trust.

 The running reverend, who lives in Crosthwaite near Kendal, hopes to raise £5,000 for Brathay’s 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.  

Michelle aims to train by running one marathon a week. She will fit this in between teaching music and religious education at Leven Valley Church of England primary school (Backbarrow) and looking after her family and parishioners.

Mum to two teenagers, her husband, Michael, is also a vicar. Michelle helps him at the four parishes he is responsible for - Crosthwaite, Cartmel Fell, Winster and Witherslack. As her training run crosses the boundaries of all four she says it’s an opportunity to say a prayer for parishioners and the farms she passes. Along her route she meets wildlife, including a friendly heron, and once a week a friend joins her and for company she also listens to a running podcast.

Michelle explains why she’s up for the challenge:

 “I work at a fantastic school whose motto is, ‘everyone on board for the learning adventure’. We encourage the children to push themselves and embrace adventures, and that makes sense to me.  

“I’ve always enjoyed running, my first introduction was the school cross-country run. I was told I couldn’t run after my daughter was born but, with perseverance and expert advice, I did. In 2012 I ran the Great North Run in memory of my dad and, four-years, later I fulfilled a lifetime ambition to run the London Marathon, my first marathon, also for dad.

 “Running has been such a solace over the years, giving me time to think, to pray, to feel free and to experience the elements. My running route is incredibly beautiful, I get lots of hill practice and some mornings there’s so much wildlife out there it’s like the Serengeti,” adds Michelle.  

As to what attracted to her to this challenge, she says:  

“Each May heading to work I would see the 10in10 runners rounding the lake at Newby Bridge. I thought what they were doing was amazing, but not for me. In 2019 something changed and I thought, I wonder if I could do that? I am about to find out.  

“I am so excited and up for the mental, physical and fundraising challenge ahead. I have moments when fear kicks in and I wonder what on earth I am doing. When that happens I run a bit further and a bit faster.”

To find out more about Michelle’s challenge visit: