Kelly Sotherton rises to marathon challenge

Retired heptathlete relishes idea of running 26.2 miles in April


Kelly Sotherton will be among the leading ex-athletes and celebrities in this year’s Virgin London Marathon and the former heptathlete has the goal of beating swimming and rowing giants Steve Parry and Matthew Pinsent.

Speaking to, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist says if everything goes perfectly she feels a time in the range of 3:40 is possible, but more realistically she is hoping to get around as painlessly as she can in around four to four-and-a-half hours.

Sotherton has battled injuries in recent years and suffered from a prolapsed disc in her back. Given this, she was forced to give up on her London Olympic dream last year and announced her retirement in May 2012.

“I always said to myself that I would do a marathon the following year after finishing my athletics career,” the 36-year-old said. “It’s one of those bucket list things.

“You have to be mad to do seven events, so surely if you can train for so many events then the marathon can’t be too difficult!?”

Sotherton is being advised by Steve Ingham, the head of physiology at the English Institute of Sport, and part of her plan involves eating a low-carb diet. This is to teach her body to burn fat during the latter stages of the marathon as opposed to relying on carbohydrates.

In addition she is doing bike rides of 30-50km until she builds up the ability of her body to withstand the longer training runs.

“I used to get a nose bleed running 35 minutes when I was a heptathlete and I didn’t have to do it in the past,” she explained. “So doubling the amount of time on my feet now is difficult as I’m not used to it.

“The distance is my biggest worry, too, and the bottom line is that I’d like to run the whole way and not have to walk any of it.

“And I’m sure I’ll get some niggles in coming weeks and I’m not looking forward to the odd toenail coming off , for example.”

She added: “It’s going to be my only marathon, but I have been told that when you do one and say ‘never again’ then you do end up doing more afterwards.”

Leave a Reply