Chiltern Challenge 100km 2019 – my first ultra, this one hurt! Vicky
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Hi, my name is Paul Schnell. The first thing to stress is that I’m not some gifted athlete. Far from it! I’m a slow, middle-of-the-pack kind of runner who only started running very late in life. This challenge is an evolution of my running journey and I’m excited by the prospect of pulling this off while being very average at this game and also getting on in years.

Those that know me might not have realised that I, like so many other ‘normal’ people, have struggled with mental health challenges my whole life. I’d consider myself fortunate in terms of where I sit on the spectrum but depression in its various forms is unpleasant to live with.

I started running in earnest at the end of 2015, at the age of 46, in preparation for my first marathon – London 2016. It was going to be a one-off, tick the bucket list item and be done.

Little did I know how much I would come to love running and how it would help to even out my ‘rough spots’. Over the following 4 years I ended up running a Spring and Autumn marathon each year to keep my motivation up by having a challenge in the diary.

Along the way I discovered the joy of running trails and running became a pleasure in and of itself. It is no longer just about training to survive the next marathon but the pleasure of being out enjoying the solitude and my beautiful surroundings in Surrey, UK where I live.

In 2018 I joined my local running club – Tadworth AC – and met some great folks who share the joy of running and who have pushed me to be a much better runner. This has added a brilliant new dimension, not least the “pub runs” (yes that’s a thing!)

Come 2019 and I set myself the challenge of running every day for the year. I also ran two 60 mile (100km) trail ultras and found myself reaching the best physical shape of my life aged 50! I learned a lot about pushing myself and also the benefits of eating and exercising well.

So for 2020 I wanted to up my game and figured it would be great to raise awareness and raise money for a great charity. If I could inspire just 1 person to start running and reap the benefits that I have, that would be awesome.

If you can identify with the challenges associated with mental health or just feel sorry for me for being an idiot I’d be very grateful for any donation that you can provide 🙂


My “back yard” – a big part of why I do this…