A super-tough athlete has arrived in London after completing 100 marathons barefoot and urges women to ‘take those first adventurous steps to see what they are really capable of’.
Anna McNuff set out from the Shetland Isles in June and after 2,620 miles, she reached the finishing line of Barefoot Britain in Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon around 2pm today.
Her route saw her run from the northeast coast of Scotland to Inverness, before heading to Glasgow and Edinburgh via Aberdeen.
Anna McNuff makes a spectacular run across the finish line after completing 100 marathons barefoot as part of the Barefoot Britain
Anna said she stepped in poo, glass and on a dead rabbit during her mammoth trek across the UK. She has described the experience as ‘wonderful, weird, difficult and extraordinary’
She then crossed the border to Newcastle, through the Pennines to Yorkshire before heading to Liverpool, a ferry to Belfast, travelling back to Wales and then on towards Nottingham. She trekked to Bristol and the southeast before crossing to the Isle of Wight and heading through Surrey towards London on the last leg.
The fearless explorer, who has cycled through every US state and ran the length of New Zealand, has been obsessed with running without shoes for a few years since reading Born to Run and spending time in New Zealand where many children run barefoot.
She described the five months as ‘wonderful, weird, difficult and extraordinary’ while admitting she has stepped in poo, glass – and even on a dead rabbit.
Anna was surrounded by other runners as she cheerily completed the route at Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon, south west London, around 2pm today
The athlete’s feet were cut and blistered after running 2,620 miles from the Shetland Isles in June to London today. Before embarking on her route, she said: ‘If I get injured or step on a broken Irn Bru bottle in the outskirts of Glasgow, then I will deal with that then’
Anna said people do not have to run 100 marathons barefoot to have an adventure and it comes down to simply taking the ‘first step out of your comfort zone’.
‘I know that if girls can take those first adventurous steps, then they’ll see what they are truly capable of.’
She noted how feet are a ‘complex machine’ containing more than 7,000 nerve endings in each sole and the adventure was a ‘huge experiment’ in trying to ‘coax [her] feet into doing what they were truly built to do’.
Feet spend a ‘lifetime of being squidged up in shoes’.
Anna takes a light-hearted picture among the woodland trees in Aviemore, Highlands of Scotland, during the 2,620 trek, and reveals a glimpse of her dirty feet
The ultra adventurer is surrounded by spectators holding signs reading ‘Anna McNuff super star’ earlier today. The fearless runner has previously cycled through all 50 US states and run the length of New Zealand
Graphic shows Anna’s impressive journey which took her five months to complete and was action-packed with talks to Girl Guides about the ‘joys of adventure and the great outdoors’
Both of Anna’s parents were Olympians, and she grew up wanting to follow in their footsteps.
She became World Champion at the University Games in 2006 and went on to row for Great Britain, winning a bronze medal at the 2007 European Championships.
But she decided to retire following her injuries and embarked on travelling and writing two books about her experience.
The endurance athlete grins from a beach and then running barefoot on the long-distance path Speyside Way in Banffshire, Scotland. While she documented her run across the length of the UK, she hoped to ‘show girls and young women that taking risks and doing things that scare them, big or small, can be incredible’
Anna, who is a UK Girl Guiding ambassador, stopped off to talk with Guides about the ‘joys of adventure and the great outdoors’. Her mission is to ‘show the young women of Great Britain that there is more magic in them than they will ever know’ and ‘they can do anything’.
‘That’s why I’ve run the length of the UK in my bare feet – to show girls and young women that taking risks and doing things that scare them, big or small, can be incredible.
Anna hopes there is something to be gained from girls watching her finishing the run in Wimbledon. She said: ‘Being a girl should not stop you from doing anything. I have spoken to thousands of girls in all over the UK and my message has always been – be bold, be brave and be you’
She pauses on a hillside and absorbs the breathtaking views while her mother feels Anna is ‘bonkers’. The global adventurer has said her mother raised her to believe in ‘what’s possible’ instead of focusing on the negatives and therefore the adventure is ‘all her doing’, she joked
‘And being a girl should not stop you from doing anything. I have spoken to thousands of girls in all over the UK and my message has always been ‘be bold, be brave and be you.
‘The girls are always so eager to see my feet and surprised that they don’t look all that different to their own – mine just have a bit more dirt on them.’
Anna encouraged supporters to help her out on the way, either by offering to transport her bag for a stage of the run, giving her somewhere to stay for the night or running alongside her.
She said: ‘Adventures are about a quest for growth. I figure that if I’m going to stand in front of young girls around the UK and encourage them take on challenges that they believe to be just beyond their reach – then I have to be on that journey too.’
Asked before she set out what she would do if she stepped on glass and cut her foot, Anna said: ‘If I get injured or step on a broken Irn Bru bottle in the outskirts of Glasgow, then I will deal with that then.’
Anna revealed her mother’s baffled response to her adventure: ‘She thinks I’m bonkers. But then again she’s bonkers too and she raised me to believe in what is possible, rather than focus on what isn’t.
‘Therefore, really – this is all her doing.’