Running fanatics tackle 100 miles in under 17 hours

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TWO running fanatics have smashed a world record by running 100 miles in under 17 hours.

Mark Cooper, also known as Marathon Man, tackled a whole 84-mile ultra marathon along Hadrian's Wall with pal Andrew Murray - before pounding an extra 16 miles of ground after they got lost in Newcastle.

Mr Cooper, from Mountcastle, said he was delighted to break the record - by more than three hours - in honour of his late mum Sheila, who died of a brain haemorrhage 13 years ago.

He said: "I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't incredibly difficult. Doing such a long distance sends your body into shock. One minute sweating, then you're shivering and your legs go to rubber. For the last 45 miles I could only eat Fruit Pastilles because I felt so sick.

"I couldn't actually speak during the final 15 miles or so.

"Near the end of the 84-mile run we went over the bridge at Newcastle and took a left turn instead of a right, so we ended up in the middle of the Quayside on a Saturday night.

"We had our tops off so we got quite a bit of banter and a few wolf whistles."

A third member of their team, Donnie Campbell, was forced to drop out due to severe vomiting, but he made 74 miles of the trip.

The trio celebrated their achievement - equivalent to almost four marathons - by cracking open a bottle of champagne with the previous world record holder Jon Watts, who in 2003 completed the 84-mile trek in just under 20 hours.

Mark, 27, explained that he built a mental strategy to make sure he could finish the race. He said: "I broke the race down into three 28-mile chunks, which was a bit ruined by the little detour we experienced. The marathon was made more difficult because a lot of the ground was uphill.

"There were also some interesting twists and turns. I was chased by a bull through one field and had to vault over a barbed-wire fence.

"I think the middle section was the lowest time. I had to have a quiet moment at one stage and I was on the brink of giving up, but then I was told that four out of six people had quit at that very point and I knew I had to go on.

"Donnie put up a fight, but after 70 or so miles he couldn't keep any food or drink down. He was vomiting, shaking and thought he was going to pass out. He definitely made the right decision, and you can't really blame him for having a hard time, especially as he just completed the 95-mile West Highland Way."

He added: "The whole race was quite surreal. I was crying at times because I was so emotional and my body went into shock. By the end my girlfriend had to force sweets into my mouth at the check points because I was so exhausted.

"It was a bit of a zombie state, and by the 94th mile I was falling asleep as I was running.

"But we did manage to sprint to the finish. Then Andy and Donnie went on a night out, which I found unbelievable."

Mr Cooper, who completed 50 marathons in 56 days between May and June for charity, said it was now time for a well-earned rest.

He said: "I had ideas about running 350 miles in 24 hours but I think that one's on the backburner for now. I need to recover and give my legs a rest so I'm ready for the next challenge."