At the Cheltenham Challenge last Sunday, I felt privileged to be there at the finish line when Tyre Lady finished her Marathon. I’d first seen Tyre Lady as she ran through the car park ready for her second lap of the grueling half marathon course…only, unlike everyone else, she wasn’t just running the course by herself, she was running with Drue…an 8kg tyre.

She let me try on the harness and run a bit with Drue, it felt ok for the 10 seconds I moved around the flat tarmac car park, but how she managed to complete a hilly trail marathon I have no idea! She told us all that the tyre (and the chameleon) were all to promote change, change in the way we treat our environment, and change in our habits to help improve our world.

In the days that followed the Cheltenham Challenge, I couldn’t get this story out of my head, I wanted to know more, so I found Tyre Lady on Twitter and we got chatting. Amazingly, she offered to collaborate on this blog post, so I hope you enjoy reading her story and the message she is trying to spread about reducing the use of disposable plastic.


So what’s the Tyre Lady’s story? Why did you start running with tyres?

I normally drag a 10kg tyre and run with a stuffed toy chameleon companion. My mission is to complete 100 marathons (or ultras) with a tyre by 2020. The time may protract however as I try to balance leading a “normal working life” with running.

There are always a lot of questions when I take a tyre on a marathon or ultra marathon run….the loudest being Why?

There is a long story as to how I got to 62 marathons (including many ultras up to 100K). But the short story is I started pulling tyres in marathons as a way to train for a polar expedition. I completed my first 3 marathons and one 40 mile ultra, dragging a tyre….. before completing the North Pole in 2008.

After the North Pole, I went on a course to learn about running techniques to understand the injuries I suffered from on my first 4 marathons.  After completing the course, I decided to run 10 marathons in 10 months with a tyre. On the fifth marathon, I met a lady in her 70s who had completed 180 marathons and had challenged me to complete 100 marathons. I agreed to the challenge.

So I heard you are also running with a tyre to promote a cause, can you tell me more about this?

The world has so many conflicts: war, corporations who sacrifice our environment for money making, pollution, green house effects, cutting rain forests, our world’s resources being consumed at a rapid rate. We are so overwhelmed by this information that we do nothing, focusing blame on greedy corporations and our government do nothing. The developed nations continue with a lifestyle that is having a massive effect on our environment and we think we cannot control this so the majority do nothing.

Furthermore, I hear of so and so having the latest “thing-a-me” gadget because their old “whatever” broke or was looking tatty. For the fashionable it is about shoes, handbags and clothes. We purchase plastic bits of junk for toys for our children to keep them amused for a couple of hours, to throw away the next day. We accept that in order to have this easy lifestyle we must have disposable coffee cups & plastic drinking cups; at parties to make the washing easy we use plastic polystyrene plates and plastic cutlery and more plastic cups. The societies of developed nations have become fickle and frivolous, refusing to change their lifestyle even though they have enough information to tell them to do so and each generation becomes more apathetic, distracted by hand held phones and gaming devices. Adults want to pretend they are responsible, but expect the government to sort out everything for them. I used to be a passenger and then I jumped off the boat.

I took a step back and said let’s start with something simple: “Reducing disposable plastic”.

Plastic is in so many things and it is harming our environment (think microbeads, plastic bags, cling film, polystyrene, plastic bottles, clothing, etc).

  • 30% of plastic pots, tubs and trays are recycled.
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
  • 492,623 tonnes of plastic packaging was collected from households in 2014/2015
  • The use of plastic in Western Europe is growing about 4% each year.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • Polystyrene breaks down to small plastic balls that is ingested by small animals
  • “Degradable plastic” breaks down to micro plastic particles that can be ingested by plankton.

Ref 1: http://www.bpf.co.uk/sustainability/plastics_recycling.aspx
Ref 2: http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/facts.html

So how do you hope that you running with a tyre will inspire people to make these changes?

The generation of rubbish is the easiest thing that we can all manage and change in our lifestyle, yet we find it so hard. It appears that we don’t have the energy or the time…..but what if I could do the seemingly impossible over and over again? Dragging an 8-10kg tyre requires energy and determination. If a Tyre Lady can drag a tyre round a 42 km course and take her own bottle, reject plastic cups and silver blankets that are offered at marathons to be dumped on the ground after, then how about you? Every little bit helps.

So where should people start if they want to reduce the amount of disposable plastic in their lives?

On my website, I’ve set a series of challenges:

Level 1 Challenge: Refuse single use plastic by bringing your own:

  • Plate and cutlery – to canteens and parties that serve plastic
  • Cup – as many places serve plastic.
  • Cloth bag
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Refuse to purchase or accept items that will be sold in plastic (such as those served from drink dispensing machines).

Level 2 Challenge: Reuse

Level 3 Challenge: Repair and Upcycle

  • Learn to fix stuff and upcycle. Lots of resources on the web to show you how.

Level 4 Challenge: Request

  • Request the government installs water dispensers in public places like air ports and train stations so that you can fill up your own bottle
  • Encourage events, like the Cheltenham Challenge we just ran, to consider encouraging participants to bring their own bottles and provide water dispensers at tables.

Collectively we can make this a better world J


So there you have the story of Tyre Lady! I’d like to thank Tyre Lady for being part of this blog post, being able to witness her amazing achievement at the Cheltenham Challenge was fantastic, and to find out afterwards that it was for such a good cause made it all the more incredible.

If you want to support Tyre Lady in her endeavors, you can donate to one of her causes, EarthWatch, at www.justgiving.com/tyregirl  (EarthWatch monitors the impact of our actions on our natural world.)

There are also details on her website of upcoming events that she is taking part in, so please, go along and cheer her on!

Tyre Lady has achieved some amazing physical challenges, but I really wanted to focus on the issue of reusable plastic with this post. The disposable world we have come to live in is growing, but if we each try to do our part, I truly believe we can make a difference.

One area of this I’ve been particularly interested in this past year is the problem of fast fashion. I’m not perfect, but I pledged to buy any clothes in charity shops or vintage shops where possible, playing my small part in stepping away from the unsustainable fast fashion industry that dominates our high street. This is something I feel passionate about so I’m hoping to do a lot more blog posts about my sustainable clothing journey, from my second hand purchases, to clothes I’m hoping to make for myself one day.

So whether it’s something as simple as buying a reusable drinks bottle, carrying reusable cutlery with you, buying clothes second hand rather than new, or mending where possible, why not give it a go? Let me know how you get on the comments below or on social media!

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