Gillian Verdin, a 23-year-old health and social care worker from Liverpool, has become the youngest person ever to run 100 marathons. Last year, she participated in a staggering 60 marathons, completing her 100th at Tyldesley on 20 March. Gill is now the youngest person to join the 100 Marathon Club, and her race evidence has officially been confirmed by the Guinness World Records.
Gill completed her first half-marathon at 17-years-old and didn’t stop running after that. She ran her first full marathon in 2012, followed by a second marathon later that year, and six the year after. Targeting 60 marathons last year, as part of an attempt to complete 100 marathons, it wasn’t until her final few races that she realised a world record was in her sights.
We caught up with Gill to find out more about her running and her incredible feat over the last 12 months.
What inspired you to take on your world record attempt?
My ultimate aim was to complete 100 marathons. I have been surrounded by people, who all have the same goal, and they have inspired and supported me along my journey. I have been inspired by individuals at my running club, Liverpool Running Club, as well as the amazing runners you meet when running marathons.
When did you first get into running?
I first started running in 2010 when I took part in the Liverpool Half Marathon. I participated to raise money for a trip to Uganda, to volunteer with a small team from the course I studied in college. I raised over £1000, which was put together with the team’s money, to help in villages and hospitals in the community we visited. I found this very rewarding. I enjoyed the half-marathon and finished in 2hrs and 22mins.
Can you name a handful of the marathons you took part in as part of your 100 marathon challenge?
I have participated in over 100 marathons now but I have a couple of favourites I really enjoy:
• Hell of a Hill – a Hill Runner event. This is a five-day race, consisting of a marathon each day. The race organisers and support crew are always happy to help and go above and beyond.
• The Holly Challenge, which is 32 laps. It’s really good as you pass the water station 32 times so you don’t have to carry anything, these are always very social and fun.
• It’s grim up North – I enjoyed these events which are in Kirkstall Abbey, Bolton Abbey and Canal Canter.
• I’ve taken part in the iconic Rome, Berlin and London marathons, as well as smaller, more local marathons, including Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Bolton Hill, Grizedale, Langdale and Anglesey.
• I’ve taken part in some ultra-marathons too, including the Lady Bower at 50 miles and Gritstone Grind at 34 miles.
Were you running for a particular charity at all?
I ran my first marathon for an Alzheimer’s charity. After working within the health care sector and seeing how this disease can impact individuals and their families, I think this is an amazing charity. I feel it’s important to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease as it can affect anyone at any age and any time.
Were you shooting for a particular time at each event?
Each event I participated in, I aimed to finish in a certain time depending on the course, the event and the people I may have been running with or met on the way. In events when I feel in peak fitness, I aim to do the best time I possibly can on the day.
What is your best marathon time so far?
I got my best time so far at the London Marathon in 2015; I crossed the line in 3hrs 31mins, taking around 8 minutes off my previous PB.
How did you manage to fit your training/races around a full-time job?
I work for the 5 Boroughs Partnership as a health and social care worker with the district nursing team. They have really supported me with my challenge, especially my manager, Moreen Corbett, and team at Knowsley. Participating in so many marathons in a period of time becomes classed as training, although I would fit in a quick run during the weeks days where possible.
How did you schedule the marathons to allow your body to recover in-between each race?
I would ensure that I was eating enough to be able to maintain the same weight and allow my body to recover. I would listen to my body and take it easy when required, so I was able to reach the goal I had set. I would not try anything too different during the days leading up to a marathon. If I was taking part in a multi-day event, I would take the race steady and be conscious of the fluids I was taking on board before, during and following events.
What will be your next challenge?
I am running the London marathon and my next goal is to complete the six marathons as part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors; London, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, New York. I will also aim to do some shorter distance events, trying to beat my previous times. I would also like to participate in more team events with the running club and also take part in some cross-country events.
Lastly, could you give us your top five tips for marathon running?
1. Pick a race you think you will enjoy and set a realistic time so you know you can finish.
2. Eat well, drink plenty and consider what you may require on your run.
3. Wear the correct clothing and shoes for the event and conditions.
4. Respect other runners and marshals, make friends along the way and support each other when needed.
5. Save a smile for the finish line and be proud of your achievement.