Huntingdon firefighter to tackle Pennine Way Ultra

A Cambridgeshire firefighter is taking part in an Ultra Marathon across The Pennine Way which is the equivalent of climbing Britain’s highest peak twice.

Paul Oliver, Station Commander within the On-Call support team at Huntingdon Fire Station, will be running (and walking) the 53-mile, Pennine Barrier Ultra next Saturday (June 17th).

With an ascent of 2,590 metres (8,497 feet), the Ultra is just under the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis twice.

Paul said he is using the Ultra as a “milestone” marker for when he completes the 214-mile non-stop Ultra Marathon Across Scotland next Summer.

For the Pennine Barrier Ultra Paul will be taking part with his brother David. There will be up to 150 competitors, all required to finish in under 15 hours.

“It is going to be difficult because you are doing a lot of climbing but this Ultra is a bit of a milestone for me because it will tell me where I am in terms of my level of fitness. I will also be testing out new kit that I want to run in for the Race Across Scotland next year.

“There is a 15-hour cut off and there are other factors too, like the weather, that all play a part but it will give me an idea of the terrain I will be facing in Scotland.”

Paul, who is a member of the Riverside Runners in St Neots, said it has been hard to prepare for because of the flat terrain in Cambridgeshire.

“It is difficult because it is very hilly so it’s difficult to simulate that in the Fens so I have been doing a lot more work on Cross Trainers. I have been setting the resistance very high which simulates going up an elevation, then dropping it low to simulate running down a mountain.”

Paul will be running other Ultras ahead of the 214-mile non-stop Race Across Scotland next year which he describes as “the biggest physical challenge of my life so far.”

Paul first got into Ultra running nine years ago, when he ran the Marathon des Sables which takes place in Southern Morocco in the Sahara Desert. He faced real extremes in temperature – ranging from up to 48ºC at midday to sub zero temperatures at night. He suffered severe dehydration during the race and was put on an IV-drip overnight before going on to race the next day.

An Ultra is any race over the length of a marathon and Paul and his brother, David, ran their first Ultra together to raise money for charity after David was diagnosed with skin cancer.

Paul’s last event prior to the Pennine Barrier Ultra was the London Marathon in April.

For the Race Across Scotland, Paul is raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity, MacMillan Cancer Support and the children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent.

If you would like to donate money to one or all of Paul’s causes, please visit his Virgin Money Giving page here.