Butler clocks up the miles with help from Ant & Dec!
After a week of sleep-deprived running that took her from Edale to Scotland, Danielle Butler is slowly settling back into ‘normal life.’
The 35-year-old running fanatic took on the Montane Winter Spine Race, a 268 mile foot race that starts in the Peak District and continues along the Pennine Way into Scotland.
The runners have one week to reach the finish line, and Butler admitted she is still feeling the effects of the race more than two weeks on from its completion.
“After the initial adrenaline had worn off after 24-36 hours, the week just became one big game of problem solving,” the Shrewsbury-born runner revealed. “It’s a big puzzle and the pieces kept moving, and it was up to me to solve it, be it a storm, being hungry or night time coming.”
Butler added: “A lot of people talk about the digital detox, but I don’t think that was the appeal to me.
“I liked the idea of a really long adventure, but the biggest draw was that a lot of it really scared me.”
Another motivation for Butler was the chance to raise money for ‘Mummy’s Star’, the only charity in the UK dedicated to supporting cancer in and around pregnancy. Over £4000 was raised for the charity, which directly helped a close friend of Butler recently.
Despite now living in the north west, the 35-year-old still races in Shropshire when she returns home to visit family and is closely affiliated with Saddleworth running club.
Having picked up ultra running in 2020, the Salopian set her eyes on the Spine Race initially as a volunteer, with view to competing in the race when afforded the chance.
“It’s consumed my life for the last nine to twelve months,” Butler explained. “I’ve volunteered for the race for the last few years, looking after the runners on the hills and helping out along the way.
“If you volunteer you’re put into a ballot for one of the free places that they offer, and that’s how I got in because it’s quite an expensive race.”
While Butler is a keen runner, regularly running her commute to work, she had to overcome doubts about the race on her way to completing it in January.
Butler said: “I do running so that wasn’t brand new, but I think it’s particularly the case for women that time on the hills can be quite an intimidating place.
“I was really scared, and I had moments in the first checkpoint where I thought the task was too huge.”
She added: “The big appeal to me was doing something that felt impossible and that scared me.
“I’ve had dreams since that I haven’t completed the race yet, so there must be a part of my brain that still can’t believe I did it.”
As part of the race, runners are encouraged to forfeit sleep in search of maximising their time on the move.
Butler revealed she had ‘around nine or ten hours’ of sleep across six days of running, before explaining how the most elite competitors survive on ‘about one hour of sleep over three days.’
As a result, the Shrewsbury-born competitor experienced regular hallucinations while on the move.
“You have to grin and bear it,” Butler said. “I had hours and hours on end of seeing animals, signposts that weren’t there.”
She added: “I would see stuff that was war themed, like Roman soldiers, things from war film sets.
“And the weirdest one, along with the guy I was walking with, I saw Ant & Dec’s faces on a leaf.
“Being on your own with hallucinations might be tricky, but I was with somebody from the second night onwards.
“Sometimes there’d be three or four of us, and that made it not too bad because we’d point out the hallucinations to each other and have a laugh about them.”
Fellow Shropshire-based runners Phil Clarke and Grant Wilson joined Butler for part of the race, with the trio receiving several messages from supporters across the county during the challenging week.