Women’s Running cover star and all-round tough cookie Anna McNuff has completed the challenge she embarked on back on 2 June – to run up and over the UK completely barefoot.
Anna started her Barefoot Britain journey in the Shetland Islands before running the equivalent of almost 100 marathons to end up in London on Sunday 17 November. She left no stone unturned, running through England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, including sidesteps to the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, across coastlines, through cities, over mountains and moors, covering a total of 2,620 miles. Phew!
300 runners joined Anna for the big finish at Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon, where they were met by girls and volunteers from Girlguiding to celebrate her amazing achievement.
Anna is a Girlguiding ambassador and takes her role seriously – throughout her journey she visited young girls to speak to them about the importance of challenging themselves and stepping out of their comfort zones. “Adventure is as much for girls and women as it is for boys and men,” she says. “But there are lots of barriers for girls wanting to have adventures. Society does not encourage girls to explore, take up space or be physical in the same way that boys are encouraged to. And girls worry about being treated differently or feeling unsafe – because they are girls. I wanted to show girls they can do anything.” We agree that she’s done just that.
It wasn’t always an easy ride. Back in early September, Anna took to Instagram to tell her followers that a small cut on her foot during the Peak District stretch had turned into a nasty infection. Luckily this cleared up after a visit to the hospital, but Anna’s feet certainly took a beating: over the whole “wonderful, weird, difficult and extraordinary” experience, she’s stepped in “poo, glass – and even on a dead rabbit.”
If the idea of sticking your foot in a rabbit carcass doesn’t get you excited, she doesn’t blame you. “You don’t have to run 100 marathons barefoot to have an adventure. But you do have to take that first step out of your comfort zone. I know that if girls can take those first adventurous steps, then they’ll see what they are truly capable of.”
Anna hopes that completing this incredible challenge will encourage more women and girls to set out on their own adventures, in keeping with the Girlguiding Future Girl campaign that she supports.
We met Anna back in August and were pretty blown away by her – you can read the full interview here.