British veteran completes ultra-marathon across Tanzania for military charity

Tricia Sinclair completed the 250km five-day feat called Ultra X Tanzania, which saw her traverse parts of Mount Kilimanjaro, on June 16.

Danielle Desouza
Wednesday 28 June 2023 08:00 BST
Tricia Sinclair has completed an ultra-marathon across Tanzania (Alina Scanlen/Alinascanlen.com)
Tricia Sinclair has completed an ultra-marathon across Tanzania (Alina Scanlen/Alinascanlen.com)

A British veteran who recently completed an ultra-marathon across Tanzania hopes to take on another extreme challenge to raise vital funds to improve fellow veterans’ mental wellbeing through cross-fit.

On June 16, Tricia Sinclair completed the 250km five-day running feat called Ultra X Tanzania, which saw her traverse 3,700m up Mount Kilimanjaro.

“I kind of went into it actually not even knowing if I would physically be able to finish the whole thing,” the 37-year-old from Twickenham, London, told the PA news agency.

“Obviously I’d done the training and was hoping for the best, but I’ve never run that far before.”

Despite never running “anything more than a marathon”, the 37-year-old was the 10th overall female – with a time of 37.01 hours – which was based on overall time taken to complete the feat.

Ms Sinclair served in the army for 14 years between 2008 and 2022, an experience she said she will “always be grateful for”.

She now works as the director of fitness for charity REORG, which helps rehabilitate veterans, military and emergency services personnel through functional fitness and jiu-jitsu.

Through the challenge, she hoped to raise £30,000 to allow 100 veterans and military and emergency services personnel to go through the charity’s 60 fitness programme – which uses cross-fit to improve health and wellbeing.

When previously speaking to PA, she said: “The idea of leaving the service is massive, it’s so daunting, it’s petrifying, because the idea of transferable skills and surviving in the civilian world is massive.

“My transition has been made so much easier because first of all, REORG offered me a job as a full-time member of staff, which has been amazing because it is surrounded around fitness, which I am massively passionate about, and it’s supporting people that I’ve been working with for the past 14 years.”

Ms Sinclair said the sense of community on the ultra-marathon was her favourite aspect.

“Day two came and there was a lot more elevation and that was when I really started to see the support of the other runners,” she said.

“There was so much incline, which meant that you had to walk quite a bit of it.

“I had a bit of a bad right knee and I didn’t take any poles with me as I didn’t really know the benefit of using them and one of the girls that I was running with gave me one of her poles and we pretty much ran the whole of day two together.”

The kindness of those taking part in the ultra-marathon was also demonstrated when a group of South African runners sang “happy birthday” to Ms Sinclair on her special day – which fell on the first day of the event.

“That was really cute. Then, I think somebody told the race organisers and they mentioned it in the evening and sang me ‘happy birthday’ as well, which was really sweet,” she said.

Ms Sinclair’s friends and family also sent her cards so she would have something to open while in Tanzania.

Her dad – Michael George Sinclair, 60 – was also there to greet her at the finish line.

“A whole wave of emotions came over me, I couldn’t believe what I’d just done – it was definitely one of the best experiences of my whole entire life,” she said.

Dad was so proud and said this has inspired him to to sign up for a half marathon and one of the main reasons I wanted to do this was to inspire people to push themselves out of their comfort zone.”

Ms Sinclair documented the ultra-marathon using a GoPro and particularly wanted to “capture the bits where I’m absolutely hanging out”.

“It’s funny because on the first day, I was using the GoPro loads and was running with it a lot because I had bags of energy,” she said.

“By day three, even just getting that GoPro out of my bag was such a hindrance – but I still caught a lot.

“The last day especially was the hardest for me, so I pretty much had the GoPro in my hand the whole day.”

She described the ascent up Mount Kilimanjaro on day three as “savage”.

“I spent about five-and-a-half hours just stomping uphill and I was pretty much alone for most of that day,” she said.

“Then there was a lot of downhill, so I think that day took me seven-and-a-half hours to complete.”

However, she added: “The scenery, the locals were absolutely amazing – they were cheering us on every single day.”

Day four consisted of Ms Sinclair running in the pitch black, with a headtorch on for several hours, but also being supported by a group of fellow female runners who came up with a game plan to get them through it.

With Ms Sinclair’s fundraising target yet to be met and her page still live, she said she has plans to take on another challenge.

“I’ve actually been invited to go to the Ultra X championships in June of next year, so I might think of doing that,” she said.

“But I also like the idea of potentially doing an Ironman as well because I like the fact that its got three disciplines in it.”

Ms Sinclair’s fundraising page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/patricia-sinclair-1683631836730

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