Charlotte Foster

Travel Trouble

Meet the youngest person to run a solo lap of Britain

Meet the youngest person to run a solo lap of Britain

Elise Downing never thought she was a gifted runner. 

She tried running a marathon, dressed as a crayon, but gave up before finishing and was found crying on the side of the road. 

She wasn’t phased by her previous marathon failures, as six weeks later, she set out on a marathon of epic proportions, leaving from London’s National Maritime Museum with a tent on her back and a map that she couldn’t read to run around the coast of Britain. 

She became the first woman and the youngest person to run a lap of Great Britain by herself, having completed the 5,000-mile journey back to Greenwich in 301 days.

Along the journey, she crashed with over 200 strangers for a night and suffered several injuries on the way.

She was often slowed down by chaffing from her running tights and her backpack rubbing on her shoulders. 

After finishing the impressive feat, Elise recalled her travels in her book titled Coasting: Running Around The Coast of Britain – Life, Love And (Very) Loose Plans.

In her book she explains that the clockwise route around the UK was never an issue, saying “I just keep the sea to my left, surely.”

She also explained that the hole in her back was caused by friction from her sports bra clasp wearing a big hole in a T-shirt she didn’t want to change because she had become “weirdly superstitious” about taking it off.

“It’s probably one of the most ridiculous ideas I had,’ she writes. ‘I can’t explain myself.”

Elise’s 40 mile-per-day jogs were often interrupted by ferocious storms and decided to name them as old friends. 

She wrote in her book, “Your own mortality suddenly feels very apparent in those moments. I had to take an alternative inland route quite a few times to avoid literally being blown out to sea.”

Despite the trials and tribulations, Elise witnessed the kindness of people firsthand. 

She wrote, “I realised how fundamentally good most humans are. It was a huge privilege to be welcomed into so many people’s homes, and I feel really lucky to have had the chance to meet so many different, amazing people.”

“Running the coast of Britain was technically a solo challenge, but I really don’t think I would have made it to the end if it wasn’t for all the help I received.”

Image credit: Instagram @elisecdowning