A British woman is planning to make Portuguese running history; Rachel Bowker, 42, who lives in Alte, is soon to run the 220 kilometre EcoVia route from Cape St. Vincent to the Spanish border – the full length of the Algarve – in five days: the equivalent of five Marathon runs, back to back!
The 42.2 km run was first made when a Greek athlete called Pheidippides took news of Athens’ unexpected defeat of the Persian army to his home city and collapsed upon gasping out the news. It became reinstated as an Olympic event in 1896 and has, ever since, been deemed the ultimate road race. Today, ultra-athletics have seen runners completing consecutive daily Marathons with such participants as explorer Ranulph Fiennes doing seven in seven days on seven continents.
Rachel, however, will be quite happy if she completes just the five and becomes possibly the first person to run the entire width of the Algarve west to east.
Her main pleasure, however, will be that she is doing this for the British-based cancer charity, Bosom Friends.
The death of her mother from ocular melanoma in 2016 has prompted Rachel to raise funds and awareness for the aid organisation based in her hometown in Barnoldswick, Lancashire.
After losing her mother, she stopped most physical activity but her half-Portuguese partner, ex-British soldier, Marc Gomes, who is the cycling leader of Algarve Bike Holidays, encouraged her to run again for stress relief.
She took to it so much that in October last year she participated in the Lisbon Half-Marathon. Since then she has been in strict training for this run.
Rachel, supported only by Marc and a few friends, is setting off from the most south-westerly point of Europe on 25 October and is hoping to arrive on the banks of the Guadiana River at Vila Real de Santo António by sunset on 29 October.
En-route she is hoping to find out a bit more about herself. As someone who has been a “working mum” since she was 19 and now has the freedom and opportunity to do something that pushes her toward ultimate challenges, she says that she wants to find herself a “when I’m a grandma” story.
Then her next ambition, after she completes this epic route, is to sit on a sofa eating fast food for a week. They never did that in Ancient Athens! Rayner Otter
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