by Madeleine Kelly

Think the Tour de France sounds hard on a bike? Try running it.

British runner Peter Thompson completed the 2018 Tour de France route on foot on July 25th. According to Thompson’s Strava, he ran 3,350.65 kilometres over 68 days to finish his #runthetour project. If the sheer volume of running Thompson did doesn’t shock you, then consider the 9,000 m of elevation gain he travelled in the last week of June alone.

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For even more perspective, 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas won the 105th edition in 83 hours 17 minutes 13 seconds. Thompson ran for roughly 342 hours and 40 minutes to finish the 3,350.65 kilometres.

His pace ranged a lot depending on elevation and stage of the run, but he averaged around 6 minutes per kilometre over his big run. Thomas’ average speed was 40.2 km/h over the 21 stages of the Tour while Thompson averaged under 10 km/h.

The 2018 Tour de France included some imposing mountains with stages in the Alps and Pyrenees offering particularly gruelling profiles.

The short but brutal profile of Stage 17 of the Tour de France.

His primary support system through the tour was his partner (and driver) Sally Holdsworth, with cameo appearances by his mother and other runners.

Thompson is no stranger to endurance running, as he has previously run 44 marathons, in 44 countries in 44 days.

Thompson’s run was about more than running–he raised over $33,000 for three mental health charities. He posted on his charity page about why mental health is so important to him. “After crossing the finish line of the 2015 Amsterdam marathon in a time of 2 hours 25 minutes, things quickly changed. A breakdown in a relationship was shortly followed by the uncomfortable realization that my focus and determination to constantly improve as a runner was almost all-consuming. It had turned running from something which had been my life, to something I deeply resented. I didn’t want to do it anymore.”

What it means to be so close…#runthetour As you can probably imagine, it's almost as difficult to have made it this far as it is to succinctly describe what it means to have done so. To be so close to a moment that I have only allowed myself to really contemplate over the last few days. I find it hard enough to vocalise my feelings and thoughts most of the time and you will very rarely see me jumping for joy or being the life and soul of the party. However through this and my last challenge I have found a bit of a voice. By writing these posts, making little videos and sharing @salsatimes artistic pictures, I have found it easyier to do that and it has been really important to me to try to showcase the good and bad parts of this adventure and just what it has taken to get here. I will try to do the same to describe how I feel right now. I mentioned in a previous post that a challenge such as this is as much about the journey to get there as it is about the finish line. That journey has been full of so much more emotion than a single moment can ever bring but that doesn't mean it won't mean a huge amount when it hopefully comes. I'm sure the focal point of that finish line might see a few tears or even that rare jump for joy. Like last time this challenge no longer feels like just mine (mine and Sallys this time). It feels like all of the yours too. Those who have followed, continued to send messages of support, often when I have been to tired to reply, and donated to the mental health cause at it's heart. To the friends, family and many stangers that have come out to help us through. I also hope that the money raised will mean this journey doesn't just end tomorrow. That it will grow and continue to make a difference long after my legs have stopped aching and my dodgy beard has been shaved off. So there it is, my attempt at putting this unique feeling into words. Now all that's left is to try and finish all this off. To be able to say we have won the race and that I have actually run the Tour de France. If you would like to support the cause the donation website link in my bio ⬆️. Thank you ❤

A post shared by Peter Thompson (@marathonsforthemind) on

He continued, “By talking more openly about mental health, engaging within discussions or simply listening to others, we develop understanding and importantly we help to educate. We also learn how to improve or better manage our mental health as individuals, and about the severity and crippling effects that people suffering with mental illness can experience on a daily basis.”

Thompson is not the first to successfully complete the tour on foot, American Zoe Romano did the run in 2013.

Thompson’s efforts have likely switched to recovery for the time being, but stay tuned for his next adventure.

A version of this story first appeared on runningmagazine.ca.

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