Ten marathons in 10 days is hot work for landscape gardener Jem Smith

Sudbury man Jem Smith completes 10 marathons in 10 days

Sudbury man Jem Smith completes 10 marathons in 10 days - Credit: Archant

While the recent heat wave prompted most people to laze around in the sunshine, one Sudbury-based landscape gardener opted to run 10 marathons in just 10 days – and went to work after each one.

Jem Smith, 41, who is a member of Sudbury Joggers running club, took part in the Great Barrow Challenge, which is held near Bury St Edmunds every year.

He was one of just 16 runners to complete all of the marathons in the allotted time frame, and managed to complete nine of the 10 in way under five hours with a best time on the sixth day of 4:26.13.

Mr Smith started running in 2000 after “trying to keep up” with his younger brother for a very short stretch of the London Marathon.

He said: “I thought I’d try to run the last five miles with him but couldn’t even manage 100 yards so that made up my mind to get fit and I started training.”


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Over the years, the self-confessed running addict has taken part in a number of long distance events including the 62-mile Stour Valley Path run from Newmarket to Cattawade, near Manningtree, which takes place every August.

But he admits tackling 10 marathons in 10 days – between June 23 and July 2 – was the ultimate challenge.

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“When I get an idea in my head, I can’t drop it and it becomes a bit of an obsession,” he continued.

“If it had been any other week, the challenge would have been easier but the heat was the worst thing – on Wednesday it was like running in an oven.

“When I got to the middle of the week, I think there was also this dawning realisation that I had to do it again – another five times.”

Every day of the challenge Mr Smith, who runs his own company Garden Graft, followed up each marathon by going to work.

“If you’re self employed, you can’t afford to miss 10 days work. It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever undertaken.

“I’m really chuffed that I’ve done it but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again,” he added.

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