A flight attendant from Haywards Heath is battling through jet lag, exhaustion, heat, humidity and sickness to achieve her goal of running 14 half marathons in one year.
In between catering for holiday makers Tracey Wheeler has completed 6 runs this year and ten in total in a range of countries, so far raising more than £2000 for Free the Children.
“Out of the times I have run in the past, six have been on the same day as flying, I’m lucky if I get a nights sleep,” Tracey explained.
“Then I have to fly back with the muscle stiffness, although customers are really supportive as I’ve usually got a medal around my neck!”
“We have a project in which customers can donate their unwanted currencies to Free the Children,” she added.
This year she has competed in LA, Orlando, Miami, Surrey, Washington and Cape Town and has events booked for, Edinburgh, Vancouver, Chicago, LA, Kew Gardens, Boston, Orlando and Mexico.
The first Orlando run took place in 100% humidity, whilst in San Francisco she was unable to compete after falling ill with gastroenteritis.
But the 36 year old has not been deterred from achieving her goal.
She continued: “It’s quite a challenge physically and logistically but I had to keep up with my target so found an extra run.”
After partaking in Virgin Atlantic fundraising projects climbing Mount Fuji in Japan, trekking along the Great Wall of China and cycling across Rajasthan in India and the Masai Mara in Africa, Tracey decided she wanted to start a personal project.
She explained: “It’s so rewarding because I can see where the money is going.
“Charity can seem second hand but because I travel to the places I can see that people are genuinely benefitting in terms of clean water, health care and education.
“I’ve donated to Kenya, India and China and seen substantial change, I’ve seen schools that grow from one class to seven, and I’ve seen water pumps being installed so I truly believe in what Free the Children do.”
The long distance flights make the task even more challenging.
At the starting line of a sunset run in Vegas her body clock was set at 1:30am.
Tracey said: “The jet lag can be tough to contend with, in Vancouver in June I’ll be on a ten hour flight on the Saturday to get there and it’s eight hours behind, it’s going to mess up my body clock.
On the Sunday she plans to run a half marathon and take a ten hour flight back to the UK.
“The adrenaline gets you through but it can be tricky to get your rhythm and your pace,” she added.
“This year I’ll be doing a 10k and a half in consecutive days, and then the ultimate pinnacle of my ambition is to run a 5k, 10k, half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days in January.”
However, it’s not all pain and no gain, as the fitness fanatic described: “They’re all so different, the Disney run in LA is great as it has 35000 runners, and loads of Tinker Bells!
“The two oceans half in Cape Town half was beautiful but the hills were tough going.
“I loved the Jamaica half in Negril, what better way to finish a half marathon than in the warm but refreshing Caribbean Sea drinking coconut water, it honestly has been really great.”
Donations can be made at virginmoneygiving.com/tracey12halfmarathons