Mossley runner goes ultra in charity run

A FITNESS enthusiast from Mossley has smashed her biggest challenge to date, raising vital funds for charity in the process.

Danielle Butler overcame physical and mental turmoil to complete the Montane Winter Spine Race in aid of Mummy’s Star – the only charity in the UK and Ireland dedicated to supporting pregnancy through cancer and beyond.

Not for the faint hearted, the race challenges the brave participants to complete the 268-mile course along the Pennine Way in seven days or 168 hours.

Despite facing two major storms, sub-zero temperatures and crippling sleep deprivation, Danielle managed to complete the race in six days and 12 hours – raising a staggering £4,000 in the process.

Danielle Butler

Now, with the help of The Correspondent, the 35-year-old hopes to raise further funds in a bid to give the charity an even bigger boost and provide affected families with support and guidance.

Speaking about the mammoth challenge, she said: “I didn’t originally plan to fundraise as I did a few charitable runs a few years ago and became conscious about pestering people for money.

“But, on reflection, this challenge felt like something different, so I decided to raise money for Mummy’s Star as my best friend was diagnosed with cancer whilst she was breastfeeding her little girl.

“The charity was wonderful and very supportive, so I felt obliged to give something back and help where I could.

“I love running and spending time in the hills, so anything that gets me outside for long periods of time is very appealing.

“I’d previously taken part in numerous running events, but absolutely nowhere near the magnitude of the Montane Winter Spine Race.

“However, I was inspired to challenge myself after seeing fellow runner, Jasmin Paris, take 12 hours off the course record in 2019. That achievement motivated me to volunteer and sample a taste of what was on offer.

“Volunteering allowed me to sign up for the ballot to compete in the race, and thankfully I was accepted and a position was made available for me for this year’s event.”

In the lead up to the race, which starts in Edale, Derbyshire and finishes t Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish borders, Danielle had plenty of experience of completing running challenges.

Danielle Butler overcame physical and mental turmoil to complete the Montane Winter Spine Race in aid of Mummy’s Star

However, nothing could prepare her for the physical and mental torture she was about to endure in what is regarded as Britain’s most brutal ultra marathon.

As well as navigating steep hills and hazardous terrains, she was also deprived of luxury accommodation and instead found refuge in public toilets and youth hostels.

Not to mention 16 hours of darkness, sleet storms and a few tears along the way.

Danielle was plagued with constant doubts, sore ankles and relentless fatigue – but nothing was going to stop her from completing the race and supporting the charity.

Drawing on her preparation with experienced runner Damian Hall – who won the race last year and came second this year – she marched on throughout the week and took solace from two runners by her side.

She added: “There was a huge blizzard and ferocious storm on the Tuesday night, so I was so happy to have teamed up with two local runners who I eventually ran with until the end of the week.

“I remember thinking how lucky I was to have met the two runners as the storm was really bad and their willingness to get through it was inspirational and certainly gave me that extra push.

“They helped me to enjoy the adventure element of the challenge, rather than focus on the risk factors associated with the weather.

“There was definitely a fear factor about running in the hills in the dark – it was a scary thought process knowing I could, at some stages, be doing it on my own with no one else around, not to mention being sleep deprived.

“I’d sleep for an hour at a checkpoint and then leave at midnight, walk for a few hours, get my head down on the side of the trail or in a public toilet, and then start again properly for the day shift. Overall, I’d generally complete 20 miles in the day and 20 miles at night

“There were certainly doubts running through my mind as I sat at the checkpoint, but then I told myself to carry on and realised why I was doing the challenge in the first place – to raise money for a great cause.

“Once the sun came up in the morning and the nerves settled down, I settled into the race and began to enjoy it. Thankfully, and with support from the two runners, it became a challenge that I was utterly convinced to complete.”

Danielle’s efforts to complete the race were compounded upon crossing the finish line when, to her delight, her friend and members of Mummy’s Star welcomed her home with open arms.

It was a moment she’ll cherish forever – and one she hopes to repeat in the not-too-distant future.

She told The Correspondent: “Mummy’s Star have been absolutely incredible in terms of their support along the journey.

“People from the charity came out to the first trail to cheer me on. From there they were messaging me every day and helped me realise the impact that the money would make to the charity.

“I initially set a target of £260, so the fact I’ve managed to surpass that, and even more so, makes me so happy as it will help 12 families attached to the charity.

“The support I’ve received from Mossley Running Club, Saddleworth Runners and the wider community has been overwhelming – it really did make the world of difference.”

Having taken a well-earned rest – not to mention a number of massages – Danielle is planning to complete the race once again in a few years’ time.

However, for the time being, she is set to take on smaller challenges over summer, with The Tour of Tameside and Mossley 10k to name a few.

You can donate to Danielle’s cause via the following link:

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