Why this Lee-on-the-Solent man ran 100 miles in 24 hours

When Paul Tate woke up yesterday morning, his entire body ached.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 10:44 am
Paul Tate pictured in Alver Valley, Gosport Picture: Chris Moorhouse (jpns 210421-18)

However he was not bothered about the pain.

For on Sunday, Paul completed an ultra-marathon. Starting the day before, he ran four miles every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours raising money for a charity close to his heart.

Paul, from Lee-on-the-Solent, told me yesterday: ‘I woke up today and my body is suffering. I have blisters on my feet and I’m aching all over. But it is nothing like the pain people with pancreatic cancer go through.’

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Paul with his father, Mick Tate, in May 2016.

Having trained since November last year, Paul undertook this major endurance challenge at Alver Country Park, Lee, for Pancreatic Cancer UK after his father, Mick Tate, died in 2018.

Paul, 46, says: ‘No cancer is good cancer, but the survival rate with pancreatic is pretty low. Most who get diagnosed with it die within three months. ‘My dad died 28 days after he was diagnosed.’

As an ex-Royal Navy physical trainer instructor, Paul is used to pushing his body to the limit but this challenge was completely different to anything he had done before. ‘I have always been into running but have not done many endurance challenges.

‘I decided that after dad had passed away in 2018, I would run from my home in Lee to St Margaret’s Hospice in Yeovil where he died and was cared for.

‘It was meant to be 80 miles but worked out as 86 because I got a bit lost in the New Forest and there was some unplanned fog. I raised more than £2,000 for the hospice.

‘After that, I promised my mum I wouldn’t do any more silly runs.’

Paul says running 100 miles is the ‘holy grail’ for runners. ‘Since I was so close in 2018, I wanted to complete it.

‘When Covid hit and I had some more time on my hands, I decided to set my mind to it. It was as much for charity as it was a personal challenge too.’

Paul came up with the idea of the 4:24 challenge – to cover four miles every hour, on the hour, for 24 hours. Keeping with the theme, Paul started his first loop at 4:24pm on Saturday and finished 24 hours later on April 25, his dad’s birthday.

He says: ‘That obviously covers 96 miles, so for good measure I completed a 25th four-mile loop in order to reach 100 miles.’

Paul began his ultra-marathon training schedule in November 2020, running 30 miles a week and steadily increasing the distance.

‘I think running has helped me grieve,’ says Paul. ‘It gives you a lot of thinking time and you are alone with your thoughts. It is good for your mental health in that sense.

‘A couple of friends asked me what I thought about while running and I couldn’t really answer. You come back from a six-hour run refreshed.

‘It is not so much about the distance, it is about getting used to that amount of time standing on your feet.’

Paul’s lowest training point hit in February, with the dark, cold mornings weighing down on his motivation. But he powered through and explains the past couple of weeks before his challenge were ‘mental’ and ‘overwhelming’.

‘I have raised more than £3,600. The messages of support online and on the day have been incredible,’ he explains. ‘The dark hours were between 1am-4am. During that time, I really started to lag and thought the wheels were coming off.

‘I had around two minutes rest between each lap. Then, one lap I did in 52 minutes and it got better from there. But I got through it. I had people telling me to eat this and drink that, they were so supportive.’

Paul had a great support team for his challenge, with many friends joining him on laps during the 24 hours. ‘I feel I have done my bit now. I can’t believe I have raised such a significant amount of money which will hopefully make such a difference,’ says Paul.

‘I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have been touched by it. It seems everyone knows someone who has gone through it.’

Paul is now sticking to the promise he made his mum, to not undertake any other crazy challenges. ‘At 46, I won’t sign up for any other endurance challenges, but who knows what’s next,’ he adds, smiling.

To donate to Paul’s Just Giving page in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/paul-tate8.

Taking on the toughest cancer

Pancreatic Cancer UK is a charity dedicated to research and supporting families impacted by this disease.

Pancreatic cancer develops when cells in the pancreas grow out of control, forming a lump – otherwise known as a tumour.

From the charity’s research, it is projected that in 2026, more people will die from pancreatic cancer than breast cancer.

There are few effective treatments for pancreatic cancer and 9/10 people are diagnosed too late for surgery.

Sadly, survival for pancreatic cancer has barely improved in the past 45 years. However Pancreatic Cancer UK is driving forward research to meet the need.

They have focused on researching early diagnosis and improving treatment and care. Through workshops, they deliver information and support which better prepares families and individuals for the road ahead.

Additionally, the charity also runs a specialist nurse support helpline; online support sessions about living with pancreatic cancer; support after surgery and expert information.

For more information, visit its website at pancreaticcancer.org.uk.