Ten years ago Michelle Frost became the first person in history to complete the famous 26.2 mile distance on stilts when finishing the London marathon in a time of 8 hours 25 minutes. A decade on she’s going back for more, still on stilts but this time aiming to break the current world record time of 6 hours 50 minutes. After witnessing her exploits in person at The Big Half (marathon) last Sunday Quirky Races’ Chris caught up with her for a chat ahead of the big day on April 22nd.
(Chris Lamb) How did aiming to complete a marathon on stilts come about?
(Michelle Frost) I am part of a team that teach stilt walking on Scout Camps, we get young people to learn to walk on stilts as big as 6ft tall. When we’re done teaching, we put the stilts back on along with costumes and entertain around the campsites. We always cover a good distance so I often thought that perhaps a marathon would be possible.
(CL) How many races have you done on the stilts?
(MF) The Big Half is now the 4th race I have done on stilts along with the London Marathon, the Silverstone Half Marathon and I have also done the Sports Relief Mile on bouncy stilts.
(CL) What are the biggest challenges of covering long distances on stilts and how often do you have to stop for breaks?
(MF) The main issue I’ve found in training is finding places to go where there’s a good distance with not too many low trees! Generally I’ve been found in some of the country parks and walks of Bedfordshire, hopefully not confusing too many dog walkers! So far I’ve done well by not stopping, but if I needed to I have to find something secure to hold on to as you can’t stand still on the stilts, if not its finding something big to sit on.
(CL) What’s your running/ sporting background, do you run races regularly or is this all for the challenge of completing London on stilts?
(MF) I’m not a runner, although I did run/walk the London Marathon the year after I did it on stilts to see if I could. It’s certainly just for the challenge and to raise awareness for Motor Neurone Disease by sporting my #TeamMND vest during the race.
(CL) Have you done any other runs/races in a quirky way?
(MF) I think other than my exploits on stilts, the closest I’ve got to anything quite so quirky was doing ‘The Dog Jog’. A 5k run accompanied by my sister’s dog Bailey.
(CL) What’s next after the marathon if anything?
(MF) Continuing to teach and perform on stilts with my Scout group – Stiff and Stilted and attending the Norfolk Jamboree this summer.
Michelle is raising money to help those affected by Motor Neurone Disease (MND). This dreadful disease is rapidly progressing and affects the brain and the spinal cord. It can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Up to 5,000 adults are living with MND at any one time in the UK. If anyone would like to donate to her challenge they can do so via her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-frost5
Good luck Michelle and we hope to catch up with you again after the London marathon with an update on how it all went.
* We caught up with Michelle again after the London marathon. Find out how it went here: https://quirkyraces.com/2018/04/30/breaking-world-records-with-michelle-frost/