Meet the Challengers
Each of our Challengers has a unique story to tell – from a two-time cancer survivor taking on her first running event, to an experienced ultra runner returning to the sport after pregnancy. We’ll be documenting the highs and lows of their journey towards Race to the King, our flagship South Downs ultra marathon in June 2024.
46-year-old Deborah is a two-time cancer survivor looking to mark the five-year anniversary of getting the all-clear by taking on 50km at Race to the King. Although she regularly jogs with her dog Luna, this will be Deborah’s first official long distance running event. She plans to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
“This is a big stretch for me. I’ve cheered my husband along for four marathons, but I’ve always told myself I couldn’t do it and my stoma was a bit of an excuse! Now, I’ve been cancer-free for five years – if this isn’t the right time to take on such a physical challenge, then I don’t know when is. I know that it’s okay to walk, and besides: why not go one better than my husband?”
Hester is the CFO of a FTSE250 listed company and a mum to an 18 month old and a 13 year old. When she was pregnant with her son 14 years ago she decided she wanted to be a good example to him, and so her training journey began, and running has been part of her life ever since. She has competed in duathlons, ultras, marathons and half marathons, but found the discipline and structure needed for training was a challenge with her busy work, relationship and family commitments. At times she felt she was letting herself and her coach down.
“I am delighted to be part of the Ultra 50:50 Campaign. Inclusivity is something that I feel passionate about both in my personal and professional life – if I can inspire anyone to believe that they can take part, I will feel a huge sense of pride! The great thing about the Threshold Trail events is all the exercise I do contributes to building endurance and there is no expectation regarding (cut off) times. Building for this event has helped me rediscover the joy of training.”
Lisa is a teacher and Black Trail Runners run leader from Birmingham, hoping to inspire more women to take part in trail running, particularly those from diverse backgrounds. Having completed all of Threshold’s trail events in a single year to celebrate turning 40, Lisa is no stranger to the challenges of an ultramarathon. She’s aiming to improve upon her performance at the 100k distance in 2024 by focusing more on rest and recovery in training, and hydration during the event itself.
“Less than 1% of trail runners are black, and there is a noticeable lack of female participation in trail running. I am hoping that this campaign will help people see that it is indeed accessible to all. Race to the King is my absolute favourite event, and the support that Threshold gives is second to none. I just want more people to get to experience this.”
Hackney-based Nazrin is a relative newcomer to running, having taken up the activity in June 2022. Since then, she’s tackled multiple marathons and half-marathons, and has set up SHE Runs, a club working to help more Asian, Muslim and female runners find a likeminded community. She will be taking on Race to the King in memory of her late brother, who lost his life to brain cancer two years ago.
“I live by the mantra, ‘No challenge, no change’. I am doing this for myself, and in memory of my dear brother who was very active but lost his mobility to cancer. Movement is a blessing, and it is our duty to take care of it until we cannot. I’m also running to inspire a younger generation to enter the sport, to show it’s for everyone. Bring it on.”
Having recently become a mother for the first time, Brighton-based ultra runner Romey will navigate a new set of challenges in training for running 100km at Race to the King. Managing sleepless nights, the needs of a breastfeeding baby, and the effects of pregnancy and birth on the female body, Romey hopes to prove that giving birth needn’t hold women back from chasing their dreams.
“Becoming a mum is incredible, but it is all-consuming. Signing up to an event I would have completed before parenthood helps me feel like myself again. Plus, I hope to make my daughter proud of her mum one day.”
Semeena is a Sussex-based running coach, ASICS FrontRunner and Community Lead for Muslim Runners, an organisation working to encourage more Muslims to take up running and an active lifestyle. In 2021 she won the Sussex Sports Volunteer of the Year award for co-founding the Sudhan Welfare Society, an organisation which aims to tackle inequalities in activity levels in the South Asian Community, combat loneliness and address accessibility to getting active and getting moving. Semeena has completed multiple road marathons and views the step up to ultra trail as an exciting new challenge.
“My mantra is to be the change and keep showing up. There is a significant lack of representation of ethnic minorities in running. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the world of running, especially in trail running, is an important mission now more than ever. Being a road runner, I’m excited to hit the trails to fully embrace the beauty of the countryside right at my doorstep, but the terrain and elevation are definitely going to be a challenge for me.”