A lecturer running in memory of her late nephew hopes to become the first woman to complete a gruelling challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats inside 12 days.
Sharon Gayter, 57, a lecturer at Teeside University, hopes to beat the women’s world record for running the distance for the third time.
She is the only person to have broken the world record in both directions.
The Land’s End to John O’ Groats challenge involves runners or cyclists travelling the whole length of Great Britain between the island’s two extremities, in the south-west and north-east.
Land’s End is the extreme southern point of mainland England whilst John O’Groats is the extreme northern point of mainland Scotland.
It usually takes cyclists and elite runners between 10 and 14 days to complete the challenge. The distance for runners is approximately 830 miles, covering slightly different routes from the traditional 874-mile journey by road.
Ms Gayter, from Guisborough, in North Yorkshire previously beat the world record in 2006 and 2019, but her record was overtaken by Carla Molinaro, a running coach, in 2020. Ms Molinaro’s record time stands at 12 days, 30 minutes and 14 seconds.
She told PA: “World records are there to be broken.
“I actually went to visit (Ms Molinaro) when she got to Penryn and ran a section with her. I know how hard it is so to break the record. You really have to dig deep.
“I want to be the first woman to break 12 days and then I can rest happy, knowing I’ve achieved my best at this distance.”
The lecturer has a background in long distance running, having represented Great Britain for 17 years in international athletics.
She added: “I’m the person that does 100 races a year; I race every weekend. They were taken away because of Covid.”
Ms Gayter completed several long-distance virtual challenges in preparation for the run, including a 160-mile run on Christmas day, where she ran up and down a virtual hill 80 times in 48 hours.
I was still happy, but it was tinged with sadness that I didn’t break the 12 days. Then a year later it got broken again and while I am still capable, I thought: 'I want to go back and claim it back again.'
When asked about her experience taking on the world record challenge in 2019, Ms Gayter said: “I was disappointed because my goal was to break 12 days and I had so many issues – we had the hottest day on record, we had one of the wettest days on record.
“There were road closures and bridge closures which really affected my strategy.
“I was still happy, but it was tinged with sadness that I didn’t break the 12 days. Then a year later it got broken again and while I am still capable, I thought: ‘I want to go back and claim it back again.'”
In order to achieve her goal, Ms Gayter needs to raise £10,000 so she can navigate her run with GPS, buy more equipment and avoid being “squashed in a very tiny VW van” as she was in 2019.
Any extra money will be donated to Shelter on behalf of her nephew, Ryan Kember, who died in February of this year at 28, of unknown causes.
Ms Gayter said: “It’s hard to believe that he’s actually gone. I remember holding him in my arms when I got married when he was three days old.
“Ryan had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and was on the autism spectrum, and as he grew up he got in with the wrong crowd.”
At one point, Mr Kember was homeless, but tried to turn his life around after attending rehab.
He moved into a flat close to his mother, but was found dead just two weeks later.
Ms Gayter added: “When Ryan was homeless, his parents had a lot of dealings with people that were homeless, and they wanted the charity to be one that helps homeless people, so that’s why we selected Shelter.”
Her fundraiser can be found at on gofundme.com on Fundraiser by Sharon Gayter: World Record Attempt.