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To Overcome Grief, Ultra Running Became Will Goodge’s Therapy

Will Goodge started ultra running by accident. Though he used to be a rugby player, Goodge actually hated running until he was on a trip to California. “I had jet lag so I woke up super early. I think it was 4:00 a.m. and I was in Santa Monica. And for some reason, I decided I was going for a run and I was going to run until I saw the sun come up. So I ran along the Santa Monica boardwalk. I didn’t take shoes with me, which was another strange choice. I don’t know why I did it,” Goodge said.

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Just as the sun peeked over the Malibu Hills, Goodge realized that there was only one way to get back, and that was to run, too. So he turned around and ran all the way back to his hotel’s reception where he picked up his shoes. “They looked at me quite funny. I had all these blood blisters on my feet, but I was in the most elated mood. And at the time my mum was going through cancer and she’d spoken to her doctor that day. So she called me soon after I got back and she said she was in remission,” he explained. “So I had the feeling of my first long run ever and the best news I’d ever heard in one moment,” Goodge added. Sadly, the disease returned and he lost his mom just nine months later. That’s when Goodge “used running as [his] therapy.” The first Christmas after his mom passed, Goodge completed his first marathon, and after that accomplishment, ultrarunning was the logical next step.

No distance is too long for Goodge

Ultrarunner Will Goodge smiling
Will Goodge/PureSport

Once Goodge began ultrarunning, there was no looking back it seems. Though he primarily trains on pavement, one of his favorite races was the Maverick which is trail running with big elevation gains. “That was the most fun for me because it was technical as well. The most fun I have is always trail,” Goodge said. Though that race was shorter at just 50 kilometers or 31.1 miles, Goodge has run 12 marathons in 12 days and 875 miles in just 16 days. Naturally, with distances like that under his belt, Goodge’s upcoming races and goals are no small feat.

“I’m doing Marathon des Sables next year, which is a really big one. It’s in the Sahara Desert. It’s a five-day stage race over 250 kilometers. And it is crazy but in the best way. I think those races are the ones that you find out a lot about yourself,” Goodge said. But until then, he plans to run a marathon in every English-speaking county. With a goal of just 30 days and 48 counties to visit, he’ll have to run more than one on some days. The last marathon is the official London 2021 marathon. It’s an idea inspired by Dean Karnazes’ 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days ending with the New York marathon.

As if those challenges over the next two years are not enough, the 27-year-old has one more major goal to achieve before he turns 30. He also wants to follow in the footsteps of his “Yoda,” Robbie Balenger. Goodge wants to run some 3,000 miles across America.

He Started London’s Largest Running Club

Will Goodge wearing PureSport tank
Will Goodge/PureSport

In the meantime, Goodge is head of running relations at Puresport, the most inclusive running club in London that he started. With more than 1,200 members, Puresport’s Run Club meets weekly in Battersea Park with running opportunities for everyone to get involved. Whether members are looking to jog out a 5k or improve their sprints, Rub Club offers many exercises and even an opportunity to socialize and meet new running partners. “I absolutely love Run Club from the first one I turned up to, I instantly felt part of a community and like I’ve made friends. I actually look forward to seeing everyone on a Wednesday and whilst having fun I’ve managed to knock 2 minutes off my 5k time,” Tara Jackson, a Puresport Run Club member said. It’s completely free to join and updates can be found on Instagram as well as through their WhatsApp group.

Tips for Beginners

Will Goodge running with a group
Will Goodge/PureSport

While joining a running club is an excellent way to get involved and make running more fun — especially as you gain distance — not every city has awesome resources like Goodge’s Puresport Run Club. But he does have some great pieces of advice for those who just starting out with the hopes of becoming ultra runners.

To Goodge, ultrarunning is all about the head game. “Understand why you’re getting into the race and why you want to do it. And then if you keep that with you the whole time, then you can basically do anything,” he said. But don’t take yourself too seriously. “Have fun with it and don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make a time. Just accomplish the distance. If you put too much pressure on yourself then I don’t think you’ll get the whole experience,” Goodge added.

While it’s all about enjoying the experience, Goodge admits there are tough times. In order to win, you do have to put in the time to train and push through tired moments alone without a cheering crowd. But ultimately, it pays off and that’s one of Goodge’s favorite parts of ultrarunning. “I think you learn about yourself and you can carry those lessons with you in the rest of your life as well. Things seem a little less significant and hard if you’ve overcome those kinds of obstacles before and in an ultra, it’s like you overcome them consistently because you’ll get to a point in a race where you don’t want to take another step and then you’ve got another 20 miles to run and you do it,” Goodge explained.

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Molly Harris
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist, cyclist and outdoor enthusiast. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Lonely…
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