Based in Aberdeenshire, Fay Cunningham and Emma Petrie have recently broken the world record for the most marathons run consecutively. Totalling at 106 marathons in 106 days the pair completed the challenge after running since the 19th February 2022. Scottish Women in Sport spoke to both of them in the week they completed their journey.
Both Women are Personal Trainers, who work in the Cairngorms, running their own fitness business called Match my Workout. One of their main reasons for doing the record attempt was to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and MND Association, both of which are charities very close to their families after they both lost relatives to cancer and motor neurone disease.
Fay and Emma set off less than a day after the North East of Scotland was hit with heavy snow, meaning that their first few runs were mainly on the roads around Deeside. They described: “(that they) mainly stuck to routes around the Deeside corridor, so from Braemar to Aberdeen City.”
After battling snow at the beginning, another challenge hit the women when they were both struck with a sickness bug on day 11 of the record attempt, which made for a particularly difficult few days for them both.
Fay described the first two weeks as feeling: “like we’d been hit by a bus” but went on to explain that after the initial shock of the first fortnight, their bodies adapted and they began to run 5 to 5.5 hour marathons consistently until the end.
The support the pair have received throughout the attempt has been phenomenal and when asked about how they felt about the reaction Emma described: “We always hoped it would be like this, but we were taken aback by how much support we had throughout the challenge.” Fay also mentioned that in the first weeks they would come home to dinner deliveries each night, which kept them both going throughout.
They had always hoped to ‘bring people along on the journey’ but had never anticipated the response from the local community and further afield on social media.
Emma spoke of one of their main motivations being the Edinburgh Marathons which was their 100th run of the 106: “We both loved the Edinburgh Marathon because we saw people we had trained with and had seen how hard they worked, complete it”.
Another highlight of the whole journey and especially that day was seeing Emma’s dad complete his first marathon.
On the penultimate day, accompanied by friends and sunshine, Emma and Fay ran out to the foot of Mount Keen, the easternmost Munro: “It’s a route we’ve done a few times but we loved taking out people who hadn’t run that track before.”, said Emma.
Day 106 came around, Emma and Fay were surrounded by many who had followed and supported since day one, on their final run of the challenge.
When asked how they stayed motivated all the way through the attempt Emma replied with: “Having a big reason for doing it definitely helps you get out the door each day. Good things seemed to happen once we got out and it was never as bad as we thought it would be.”
To finish off I asked if either of them had any advice for people wanting to take part in their own challenge, whether it be running a 5K or climbing their first Munro. Fay responded with: “Don’t be afraid of failure. One of our main reasons for doing it was to inspire people to do it while you can and get out there, as the opportunity can be taken away really suddenly.”
If you would like to donate, you have until June 30th and can find out a bit more about Emma and Fay here.
All donations will go directly to Macmillan Cancer Support and MND Association.