Our simple sport of running is inhabited by people with astonishing reserves of energy and others who have raised huge amounts for vital charities. Once in a while we are still amazed when these qualities are combined by extraordinary people like Rochelle Bell, 52, a mum-of-two from Sunningdale who volunteers as a massage therapist to cancer patients in Hounslow.
Rochelle's Ultra Enthusiasm Reaps Rewards
Despite a busy home and work life, Rochelle was inspired by a friend with a terminal brain tumour to undertake four ultra-marathons in 12 months – running the equivalent of more than a marathon a month – in a quest to raise £15,000 for two charities.
Rochelle met Paul, 42, while volunteering at The Mulberry Centre, Isleworth and when Paul became too ill to run she began to plan her 550 kilometre odyssey to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research and The Mulberry Centre, based at West Middlesex Hospital.
The journey began in July 2016 with the successful completion of the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones 50k ultra on the Ridgeway in the Cotswolds, followed by the Atlantic Coast Challenge from Padstow to Lands End, equivalent to three marathons in three days, in October.
Now the native New Yorker is training hard for two of the toughest challenges on desert trails starting with the Hajar 100K in Dubai on 17 February and concluding with the Marathon des Sables, also known as 'the toughest footrace on Earth' – a mere 251k across the Sahara in six days with temperatures that can reach 50C by day and freezing at night.
Rochelle, who also has a day job at a computer tech company in Windsor, has a refreshingly straightforward approach to her training as she reveals: “Now I'm over 50, although I in no way feel it, I have to look after myself. When I'm training I'll eat for performance and recovery, including lots of protein and good fats without too many starchy carbs”. Fortunately for us normal folk she added: “I mainly eat 'real' unprocessed food but I have not given up flat whites with a good croissant or the occasional jam doughnut!”
Read more about Rochelle's challenges and donate on her fundraising page here.