A 21-year-old woman has set a new world record for the youngest person to run 100 marathons.
Sophie Goodwin ran her 100th marathon on Saturday, December 2, making her the youngest person in the world to achieve the amazing feat at the age of 21.
She began running marathons a few months before she turned 19, and after running 100 marathons in two years, beat the unofficial record holder by 20 days.
Sophie said: “It is still very surreal that I have actually done it.
“Running is 100 per cent a mental battle. You know that physically your body can run the distance, but mentally it’s much more difficult to keep going.”
Sophie travels to her family home in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, every weekend to run marathons with her mum Carol, 60, who has a whopping 160 marathons under her belt.
Sophie said: “My mum was the one who got me into running – I did it to keep her company.
“I didn’t enjoy it at all when I first started. I remember running my first ever two-mile run with my mum, and I was tired after a mile.
“I was also battling an eating disorder and other issues with my mental health.
“Before my first full marathon in April 2015, I had probably only been running for a maximum of a year and I’d done a few half marathons.
“I found my first six marathons the most difficult, I really didn’t want to carry on after the half way mark.”
Sophie didn’t set out to beat a world record, but after getting through 10 marathons in a row realised she wanted to try to run 100.
“It was only after my 11th marathon that I decided to do a hundred. But at that point I wasn’t thinking about beating any record.
“I think it was when I was around the 20th mark that I heard about the youngest female record holder. I knew I could get that because she did her 100th marathon when she was 24.
“When I had done about 40 marathons I found out about a man who was chasing the youngest person in the world title. I thought that if I really pushed myself and really decided to make sure I could fit it all in, I could beat him too.
“In the end, I beat him by 20 days.”
In Sophie’s quest to break the record, she ran a marathon almost every week for two years.
She said: “Because I started doing marathons pretty much every week I didn’t have to do any running during the week – I would run at the weekend and would let my body recover during the week.
“It sounds silly, but my level of fitness had become good enough that running a marathon a week was keeping me going.”
In the end, just three years after she started running, she broke the unofficial world record on December 2 after completing the Fowlmead Challenge in Kent at the age of 21.
Sophie said: “It’s sort of like a weight has been lifted because I have achieved my goal, and I don’t have to chase numbers anymore.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.”
Sophie says she is definitely going to keep running, and plans to run a 100-mile marathon with her mum Carol in March 2018.
She’s also hoping to take part in the legendary Iron Man triathlon.
“I’m going to start looking at improving my personal best and getting a bit faster – before, I was just concentrating on finishing the things.
“But the next big thing is the 100-mile run in March.”
Sophie, who is doing a masters in Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, said that she feels like marathon running has changed her life for the better.
She said: “I definitely love doing marathons now, it has become a big part of my life, and I have made so many special friends.
“You get the same little group of people turning up at marathons all over the country and abroad.
“It’s really nice to see the same friendly faces that always show up.
“We’re actually known as the ‘usual suspects’ in the marathon world. It’s like a family.”
But in Sophie’s case, marathon running is a family affair- while her mum is a seasoned marathon runner, her dad, Mervin, 68, has also run 41 marathons.
Sophie said: “I travel home from uni every Friday to run with my mum, and we will travel up and down the country together.
“It’s really nice because it has given me an opportunity to bond with my parents- if I hadn’t started running marathons I would have seen them much less because of being away in Norwich.”
But most importantly, marathon running has helped Sophie to improve her mental and physical health.
She said: “Compared to three years ago my life is very different, I wasn’t an active teenager, I was never excited about doing PE classes at school.
“My mental health issues haven’t disappeared, but they are much more manageable. It’s never as bad as it was before.
“And I have overcome my eating disorder. I pretty much eat what I like now. I don’t eat unhealthily, but I’m not one of those people who drinks green smoothies.
“My go-to post-marathon meal is a Big Mac, fries and a banana milkshake.”
This mother-daughter duo have more than 260 marathons combined under their belts.
Sophie added: “My advice to anyone thinking of trying long distance running is definitely to just give it a go and power through the initial struggle when it feels rubbish.
“You will eventually feel that you can do it. It doesn’t have to be a marathon either, a 5K parkrun is an achievement in itself.
“I can’t tell you how many times I came last – but it didn’t matter to me, because I had finished it.
“No one ever made me feel like I was slow, there were always people cheering me on at the finish line.
“Running has helped me massively. I hate to think what position I would be in without it.”
A spokeswoman for Guinness World Records confirmed Sophie made an application to challenge the world record.
She said: “We are looking forward to receiving and reviewing all her evidence, however I am currently unable to confirm whether Sophie has officially broken the record until all the evidence has been carefully reviewed, which can sometimes take up to a number of weeks.
“The current record holder for the youngest runner female to complete 100 marathons is Elizabeth Tunna (UK, b. 23 Oct. 1986), aged 24 years 351 days when she completed the Chester Marathon in Chester, Cheshire, UK, on October 9, 2011.
She added: “I’m afraid we do not have an official record holder or the category of youngest male runner to complete 100 marathons.”
Sophie Goodwin, who lives in Norwich, said: “My best is 4:50 and I finished my 100th in about 6:15. While going for the 100 I’ve not worried about times at all. That’s my goal for next year!
“I’m going for 4:30 in May then sub 4 the same year and then Ironman training.”