Ultrarunner to set off on a 40-mile run from Rainbow Community Garden in North Hull

John Hunsley, who completed the formidable Marathon des Sables in 2019, will be setting off from Rainbow Gardens at 10am on Saturday 3rd October, to run all the way to the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Ultrarunner John Hunsley
Ultrarunner John Hunsley.

Speaking about his plan, John explains: “I was enrolled in the Cape Wrath Ultra this year, which never went ahead because of coronavirus, so I’ve transferred my entry to 2021. But that means I’ve been preparing for this race for about a year and a half already!”

Looking to find a way to keep the momentum going with his training, he decided to set himself a challenge in the meantime. And since he’d already planned to use any publicity associated with his running of the Cape Wrath Ultra to raise funds for Rainbow Gardens, John (who lives in Grimsby) had the idea of starting his challenge at the Garden.

John Hunsley has been a runner for many years, but he only took up ultrarunning after losing his wife Janice to a brain haemorrhage in 2018.

He says: “Those days after Janice passed away were the worst I’ve ever experienced. Running helped. It gave me purpose, a reason to get up in the morning.”

John enrolled in the Marathon des Sables in the months after Janice’s funeral. He threw himself into training for the gruelling multi-stage race across the desert, which is so notoriously tough that he couldn’t persuade his doctor that it was a sensible thing to do! He passed all medical checks run by the event organisers but because he didn’t have a medical certificate on arrival in Morocco, he incurred a time penalty.

Thanks to his experience in Morocco, John is now a seasoned ultrarunner, with no intention of stopping. He entered Cape Wrath Ultra – a 400km running expedition through the Highlands of Scotland – almost immediately after he returned from completing the Marathon des Sables.

He offered to raise funds and awareness for Rainbow Community Garden with this run, because he’d experienced first-hand the benefits that being active outdoors can bring to mind and body. His day-job also involves gardening, so he was keen to help Rainbow Gardens continue engaging other people in the gardening activities he knows can be therapeutic.

You hear some of John’s thoughts on running, being outdoors and mental wellbeing in this video, recorded during a training run in the far north of Scotland:

When Cape Wrath Ultra 2020 was cancelled due to coronavirus, John transferred his entry to 2021. But that’s left him with a long gap between events. Some of us might just choose to have a rest in this situation, but not John. He still needs to keep his fitness levels up and prepare thoroughly for the running expedition next year.

So he’s chosen to run from Rainbow Gardens into the Lincolnshire Wolds, using part of the Viking Way. This makes it a mixed-terrain run, something like the kind of conditions he’ll face in Scotland next year.

You can turn out and support him on the morning of Saturday 3rd October. He’ll be setting off on the route shown in the map below, from the Rainbow Gardens in Levisham Close, off Endyke Lane in North Hull at 10am. Then he’ll run down Hall Road and Hotham Road, likely crossing Willerby Road soon after 10:20. He’ll then head through Anlaby, expecting to reach Boothferry Road at around 10:45. 

He’ll make his way along Boothferry Road to cross the Humber Bridge and then the hard work will really begin, as he picks up the Viking Way footpath at Barton-upon-Humber. He’ll take the Viking Way all the way to Tealby, in the Lincolnshire Wolds. The whole route will likely take around 7 hours to complete.

If you’d like to support John and Rainbow Community Gardens, he’s set up a Just Giving page, where donations will be managed by Hull and East Yorkshire Smile Foundation but passed on to the Rainbow Garden. And if you want to follow his progress, you can visit his blog.

[Yvonne Black]