Harold Hill dad Paul Hartshorn on gruelling ‘Ultra Trail South West’ for children’s charity Starlight

PUBLISHED: 16:03 02 July 2013 | UPDATED: 16:21 02 July 2013

Paul remained in good spirits despite the strong winds and lashing rain

Paul remained in good spirits despite the strong winds and lashing rain


If a 70-mile run beside a 230-foot drop in gale-force winds sounds like your kind of weekend, Paul Hartshorn might be your kind of guy.

Paul Hartshorn during the Ultra Trail South WestPaul Hartshorn during the Ultra Trail South West

Last month the dad-of-three completed the final “ultra run” of his series of extreme fundraisers for Starlight, the charity that grants wishes for seriously ill youngsters.

He’s completed one a month for the last nine months – and the “Ultra Trail South West” he ran on Saturday, June 22, along the south coast was his most gruelling to date.

It’s all been worth it – Paul’s efforts with sponsorship this year have made £4,430 for the charity, while his running total over eight years of fundraising is an impressive £77,000 – but that didn’t make the trek any easier.

“It was horrendous, but it was absolutely amazing,” said the chipper 49-year-old, of Tarnworth Road, Harold Hill.

Some of the terrain was challengingSome of the terrain was challenging

“The path in places was not more than eight inches wide, with a 230-foot drop right down into the sea.

“There were 55mph winds up on the coastal path, which was about 95 per cent of the race.

“You couldn’t see more than about five feet in front of you because the rain was lashing down so much.

“I don’t think anyone was hospitalised, but people pulled out because they were suffering from hypothermia, and others were getting lost and disorientated.”

Paul HartshornPaul Hartshorn

Paul was one of only 33 people to complete the race, which had 170 participants from all over the world.

He ran the 67 miles in a respectable 17 hours – but incredibly he wishes he’d been a bit quicker.

“I never stopped, but I went off course twice – because of bad wayward marking, not my navigational skills,” he explained. “One sign led us into a river because the organisers forgot that it would be high tide and the water had come in by the time we got there.

“It was over five feet deep and I’m sure they didn’t expect us to swim a mile and a half down that river – so we went three miles out of our way.

“We had to fight our way through three fields of wheat over seven feet tall. It was like going to war.”

You can help Paul raise cash for Starlight by donating online at

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