Posted on: Friday 14 May 2021
After five and a half months training council employee Alex Jones finally got the chance to put her mind and body to the test in a gruelling 24 hour ultramarathon, raising more than £4,700 for the Samaritans.
Taking place during the Bank Holiday weekend, Alex started and finished the exhausting challenge in Pontypool Park, running a total of 80 miles – the equivalent of running three marathons back to back.
Alex followed three planned routes in and around the Pontypool area, a number of times, during the 24 hour period.
To prepare for the huge challenge, Alex was coached by Ray Morgan – Personal Trainer and Sports Massage Therapist based in Cwmbran Stadium, who put her through a tough 22 week training plan.
Training involved running six days a week over various distances, from 3 miles to a 32 mile run, and at the peak of her training Alex was running about 75 miles a week.
Others days included some wet, foggy mountain runs, speedwork, strength training and yoga - which helped keep injuries at bay.
Torfaen Leisure Trust played their part on the day by allowing Alex access to Pontypool Active Living Centre overnight to eat, change clothes and receive treatment.
Alex said: “During the 5 months of training, there were lots of times that I questioned what I was putting myself through and why. The training itself was so much harder than the challenge – I had to fit training in around work, family and uni. One training session involved me running 28+ miles in the snow in Blaenavon, it was pretty torturous and my hair actually froze!
“On the day I was joined about 25 minutes into the run by a fellow runner and then I wasn’t on my own at any point throughout the whole 24 hours. I had someone new to run with every few hours.
“Completing this challenge has given me not just the sense of accomplishment, but reassurance in myself that I can overcome challenges. After a long time of struggling with my own mental health, I have finally achieved something that once seemed like a big feat.”
In her role as a Policy and Project Officer for the Gwent Regional Partnership Team, Alex supports the different health and social care priorities that drive forward change and improvement.
Outside of work Alex is a keen runner and has run socially for many years. She has also been a member of the Pontypool and District Runners for around four years and has taken part in lots of local events.
Alex chose to run for Samaritans because now more than ever, they need donations to provide support and help save as many lives as possible. Coronavirus has impacted on all of our lives and this pandemic has been the Samaritans biggest challenge to date.
Before Coronavirus hit, the Samaritans had 20,000 volunteers answering a call for help every six seconds. This could be someone you know, either a family member or friend, that may be in urgent need but unable to talk to anyone in the middle of the night
If you have not done so already, you can still make donations to support Alex's cause, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-jones86
For every £1 raised, 75p is put towards training Samaritan volunteers to take calls and 25p is put back into campaigning and marketing to raise awareness.