The Twelve Day Marathon: a race for everyone

Trail running mum Carly Barnes is pioneering a new challenge that makes marathon running more accessible to all

12 day marathon

Running a marathon is likely on most of our bucket lists, and it can be easy to beat yourself up if you haven’t already completed, or at least signed up for, the fabled 26.2 miles. In truth, it’s tough to find the time and motivation to fit in an intensive training plan, travel to your nearest host city and give up a precious weekend to do something that’s just for you. Enter Carly Barnes, a keen trail runner who wants to make that marathon goal more achievable for everyday people.

The idea of the Twelve Day Marathon is that over the course of the 12 days of Christmas (25 December 2019 – 5 January 2020), you complete 26.2 miles however you want. Walk, jog or run. In one go, or in smaller chunks. Inside on a treadmill, or outside on the road or trails. One friend of Carly’s, who is not a runner, is going to do it when she hits the shops for the January sales, saying she’d walk into town rather than drive.

Some who take part will be seasoned runners and may want to use it as part of a training block for another event, or to see if they can smash a few PB’s. Others may be venturing out for the very first time and discovering what they are capable of. Either way, everyone will be taking part in a marathon event, and will all be part of the Twelve Day community. You can join the conversation on their Instagram page, the Facebook event and the strava board and by using the #twelvedaymarathon, to cheer others on and get some support yourself.

Come 5 January, you can tell Carly that you’ve completed the challenge via the email on the website and she’ll post you a shiny marathon medal. Apart from covering the cost of the medals and postage, all the money raised will be going to charity.

The Twelve Day Marathon: a race for everyone

So why is Carly organising this event?

We’ll let her tell this bit…

“Next year, I will be running the London Marathon for two incredible charities. Family Action who work to tackle some of the most complex and difficult issues that families in our communities are facing – including financial hardship, mental health problems, social isolation, learning disabilities, domestic abuse, or substance misuse and alcohol problems.

“Family Action work hard to ensure that families facing these difficulties have the support they need to become stronger, happier and healthier. As a mum myself it breaks my heart that not all kids get the same start in life so I hope my efforts will help a little.

“I am also going to be raising funds for a charity very close to my heart, Hope for Tomorrow. This incredible charity have helped my father in law with his ongoing fight with incurable cancer. Hope for Tomorrow allow patients to save time by having their cancer care closer to home, via one of their mobile chemo units, saving them time and energy to be with the people that mean the most. I ran Race To The Tower (a double trail marathon) for these guys earlier this year and they will ALWAYS hold a special place for me.

“With big events like the London Marathon runners find they get donner fatigue, and asking friends and family for money can sometimes be a little awkward. So I wanted to do something a little bit different and remembered my pal Livvy Hill (AKA @thenutritiousrunner) had organised a virtual marathon in 2017.

The Twelve Day Marathon: a race for everyone

“It was during this event that I fell in love with the sport of running. I’d run on and off for years but never really consistently – I always gave up as I had no goal and was on my own. This event gave me a reason to run and through it I met so many like-minded people just starting out on their running journey. I was hooked and since running those first few miles I’ve gone on to run my first ultra-marathon this year (I still pinch myself!).

“I was chatting to Livvy and asked her how she went about organising her event, and she said, “well why don’t you do the Twelve Day Marathon and I’ll give you all the info you need to get started”. I had met Livvy through the little squares of Instagram and I was blown away that she would do this for me.

“So here I am, having grabbed all the advice I can from Livvy, roped my poor husband in to building me a website (I’m apparently his most picky client) to take Paypal payments for the Twelve Day Marathon, and today I placed the order for 200 medals.

“On day one, just before going to bed I have 20 sign ups, including one from Australia – the event is officially global. A target of 200 feels huge but I am really hoping I can do it and will be boring everyone with it from now until the last medal is posted.

“I am a massive fan of Mimi Anderson, a British female ultra-runner, and in her book, she talks about signing up for the Marathon des Sables – an iconic 150-mile multi-day self-sufficiency staged race in the Sahara. When she entered, the furthest she had run was 13 miles. She completed it, and has since gone on to run (and win) every extreme running event out there. Just before she goes into the detail of the training for MDS, she says “How will I know unless I try?” This has become a life moto for me with most things I do. Yes, I am worried this event might not work out, but unless I try I won’t know. So I’m 100% taking this attitude with creating this event, and I hope others will be inspired by that moto, sign up, see what they can achieve and help support two incredible charities along the way. ”

Well, we’re certainly inspired!

You can follow Carly on Instagram or contact her via the website to sign up.


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