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Marlow coach completes Europe's 'most epic' mountain run
THE coach of a Marlow running group completed a 105 mile mountain race along with some of the toughest competitors on the planet.
Les Lepper, head running coach at Marlow Striders, took on a field of the best skyrunners for Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc.
It is known as the most epic mountain run race in Europe and can last up to 46 hours. Normally, less than half complete the course, with 31,500ft of ascent, around the Mont-Blanc massif, passing through France, Italy and Switzerland en-route.
However, Mr Leper finished after 42 hours 32 minutes in position 1,069 out of a field of 2,469 starters. There were 1,686 who finished the race and 783 abandoned.
Twelve times London Marathon runner Les, 55, from Maidenhead, said: "It's the realisation of a two year quest: the planning, the training, the qualifying races and the dream: I am so happy."
Describing the second night, he explained how tough the challenge had been.
He said: "There were long caravans of us picked out by a hundred glowing headtorches against the black silhouette of the mountain.
"I was trying to think of the finish. Something to motivate me, but I couldn’t. It seemed too far distant.
"I tried to think of the start and how far I had come, but it just stretched off into the distant past.
"Time itself seemed to have slowed down and I was caught in this cycle of climbing, descending, climbing, descending, hour upon hour forever."
Such a race burns 20 - 25 thousand calories - equivalent to two weeks food for some people. However, remembering the last part of the race is a good feeling, he said: "I may be 1,069th to cross the line, but the crowd make me feel a winner."
Les lost his father to cancer three years ago, and he raised funds for Cancer Research UK by doing the race. Support him at: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/leslepper and visit www.marlowstriders.co.uk for more on the club.