‘I haven’t done any marathons, only ultras!’ Marie-Paule says. Some, of course, would argue that having done 18 ultra events Marie-Paule is, in fact, a marathoner.
This is a woman who likes to go long — at 250km, a self-supported seven-day crossing of the Atacama Desert in Chile gave her ‘the most amazing time’ of her life. Alongside this incredibly tough feat, the endurance walker has participated in many XNRG events over the years which, she says, she loves because they challenge her, yet allow her to escape from day-today life.
On her favourite XNRG ultra event
Marie-Paule’s first XNRG ultra event was the three-day Druid’s Challenge, covering 84 scenic miles of The Ridgeway. ‘The Druid’s is my favourite event because it’s over three days,’ Marie-Paule says. ‘I thought it was going to be easy-peasy, but I was a bit too big for my boots!’ She laughs. ‘At the end of day one, I had blisters and was the last one back — I felt exhausted, useless and thought about quitting. “Why did I think I could do it so easily?” I thought. It was the shock to the ego that I needed. But I carried on, and was fine, I realised that all I had to do was finish, no matter how long it took. The beauty and scenery carried me through, along with everyone’s support. I am always so grateful for the checkpoint marshals waiting for us slow tortoises all day!’
On being a walker at an ultra marathon
‘XNRG cater for me as a walker but they challenge me too,’ says Marie-Paule. ‘They are different from “walking events”. I’m participating alongside runners and exceptional athletes, which pushes me—I like that. But I still take my time to enjoy everything and smell the flowers along the way!’
‘If you’re a walker wanting to be more challenged then XNRG ultra marathon events are for you—and the multi-day aspect means you get to meet lots of lovely people, make new friends, and sit and eat together at the end of the day.’ In particular, Marie-Paule loves the rare opportunity to switch-off. ‘I can just think, me, me, me! All I have to do is walk or run and everything else is taken care of. It’s a lovely alternative to day-to-day life, like an enforced meditation. I enjoy being on my own and stopping to take photos, it feels so freeing.’
Walkers can enter any XNRG events, everyone is welcome - find out more about upcoming events here.