Peterborough man runs 100-mile ultra-marathon in under 24 hours to raise over £1,500 for charity

Del Dunworth ran the 100-mile ultra-marathon, clocking up 230,000 steps and burning 14,000 calories, for Martin’s Mountain – a fundraiser for the Spinal Injuries Association charity.

By Adam Barker
Friday, 13th May 2022, 2:19 pm
Updated Monday, 16th May 2022, 10:55 am
Ultra-marathon runner Del Dunworth at the Centurion Running Thames Path 100 (TP100) on May 7 (photo: Pierre Papet - Centurion Running)
Ultra-marathon runner Del Dunworth at the Centurion Running Thames Path 100 (TP100) on May 7 (photo: Pierre Papet - Centurion Running)

“The thing with comfort zones is that if you don’t stretch them they shrink,” Del Dunworth, from Yaxley, said, after completing his first ever 100-mile ultra-marathon. “By taking myself out of my comfort zone it means I’ve got that capacity to stretch it even further.”

The 28-year-old former serviceman, who spent seven years in the military as a combat engineer, is no stranger to pushing his limits.

In 2016, he ran 100km (62 miles) along the south coast to raise money for his younger brother Rico - who was eight years old when he had to have his right foot amputated after contracting Meningitis B.

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Del Dunworth met his two children - Arlo, 3, and Myla, 4 - at the finish line.

He previously said Rico was the magnet that pulled him to the finish line that day. Six years later, he called on that same force of attraction to keep him going to complete the Centurion Running Thames Path 100 - a continuous ultra-marathon from Richmond, in South West London, to the centre of Oxford, which he finished in just under 24 hours.

“I’m not afraid to admit that I wanted to quit because, it doesn’t matter how strong you are, everyone is vulnerable to having those negative thoughts,” Del said, reflecting on the midway point of the race - where he came the closest he’s ever come to quitting.

Del’s training for the race was a year in the making - but it was now his mental strength, a resilience ingrained in him from his service in the military, which was being tested.

The day before Del and his family were supposed to travel to the house they had organised to stay at for the weekend of the race they were told that their accommodation had been cancelled - as an illegal party meant it would not be ready.

Del Dunworth crossing the finish line with his son, Arlo, 3.

“Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong,” he said. They never got back to us with an alternative location, so the night before was spent scrambling around trying to find somewhere to stay.

“Then, the day we arrived my mum was rushed to Barkshire hospital. They were out late, which was stressing me out because I didn’t know what was going to happen. They were all excuses I was using in my head midway through the race.

“Everything was pointing to the signs that I shouldn’t be doing it, but I thought, ‘this is just a test - this is just the start of the ultra.

“You have to have that positive mindset to think it’s not happening to you, it’s happening because it wants you to react and overcome it. That’s exactly what happens in the race.”

Del Dunworth's children - Arlo, 3, and Myla, 4 - cheering on their dad on.

It was a phone call to his mum at his lowest point during the ultra-marathon which prompted the shift in mindset he needed to make him carry on.

“She said, ‘you need to have the fire in your belly today as you can’t wake up tomorrow and have it because today’s your day - you’ve been training for a year for this’.”

After 22 hours and 47 minutes, 100 miles, 230,000 steps - burning 14,000 calories - Del had set out what he hoped to achieve - finishing the run in under 24 hours.

“In those final few miles, all of the pain melted away,” he said. “That magnet to the finish line started pulling me and, as much as it was a personal achievement, it was also a fundraising achievement.”

Del, and his colleagues at the company he works for, Coloplast, have so far raised £1,533 for the Martin’s Mountain - a fundraiser set up by Martin Hibbert, who was left paralysed from the waist down in the Manchester Arena bombings in 2017. Martin’s Mountain hopes to raise £1million for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) charity.

Del’s personal running endeavours continue later this year as he takes to the mountains to attempt Ultra-Trail Snowdonia - a 31-mile ultra-marathon, ascending 10,000 feet. He hopes to qualify for The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), in France, which Del called “the holy grail of ultra-running.”