The Whoopsa100 challenge: Tales from the Run Squad Frontline

After running four marathons in four weeks to raise money for children’s charity Whoopsadaisy last year, Run Squad member Magda Strycharska wasn’t as relieved to have finished it as others might have been, which is how the Whoopsa100 challenge was born.

Run Squad member Magda prepares for Whoopsa100

A few months later, she went on a 100-mile walk from Winchester to Eastbourne with her partner, and when they returned, he noticed she was acting a bit different.

“He said ‘look, I can see that something’s up with you – you need a new challenge. Maybe you should run the 100 miles?’,” Magda recalls.

And with those few words, Whoopsa100 became a reality; the idea of running 100 miles over three days, as a Run Squad fundraising team.

“When I did the four marathons in four weeks, it was a massive challenge that sort of kept me going for a while, because there was lots of training, preparation and excitement. But when it was over, it was a bit weird to not have any goals,” she recalls.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Magda fully embraced the idea and immediately approached Nick and Jo Rivett with her plan as she wanted a bit of help from TRS.

“They were very supportive – I made it clear that it wasn’t about me, I wanted to do it as a team effort. But most of all, I wanted to raise money for Whoopsadaisy.

“I’ve been running the Brighton Marathon every year since it started and a lot of my friends run, so personally, doing a marathon doesn’t feel like an achievement anymore. I wanted to do something different, to just put a bit more pressure on myself so I could raise more money,” she says.

After a visit to the Brighton-based charity for children with cerebral palsy and witnessing their work with her own eyes, Magda has become extremely passionate about Whoopsadaisy.

“I went along for one session with them, and to be honest, it was difficult not to cry,” she says. “They’re such a small local charity, which for me makes them really stand out, as I don’t trust big charities because you can’t tell where the money is going.

“I sometimes feel like I could just donate a couple of hundred myself and think ‘that’s me done’, but that would be the easy way out.”

Magda was also able to see the impact of their work, as it’s not the type of charity that just anyone can volunteer at. “The training they do there is so specialised – it can’t just be people having fun with the children, they need experts to help with their training too,” she explains.

“I feel like there’s a link between us at TRS who are mobile and fortunate to be able to run, and these children who don’t have these abilities. That’s why it feels like TRS and Whoopsadaisy are such a good match.”

The true TRS spirit

With the help of her loyal running club friends, Magda will now be joined by between 7-10 runners on the full three-day mission 15-17 July. Three others have volunteered as a support crew, to drive behind in cars with food, drinks and a change of clothes if it rains.

“We’re starting in Winchester and we’re aiming to travel very slowly towards Eastbourne, with several checkpoints on the way. On day one, we are doing 38 miles, followed by 27 miles on day two and a full 38 miles on the final day.

“And we’re hoping to have a good cheer squad as well – we have Whoopsa100 t-shirts too that we are selling before the day, which will be £20 each, with all profits going to Whoopsadaisy.”

But it takes a special group of people to embark on such a mad distance, explains Magda.

“To be honest, we’ve never done anything like it before,” she says. “It’s such a silly route, it’s really difficult and I think we need to accept that we will walk some of the hills. As long as we finish each day with no injuries, we’ll be happy.”

Magda wasn’t always a long-distance runner. “I started running around 10 years ago to lose a bit of weight, but it didn’t really stick with me,” she says. “I was running for years on my own, and after a while it became more of a mental addiction than anything else.”

She joined TRS in November 2013 when she first moved to Hove from London, and she was more interested in meeting people than running. “I don’t talk when I run, so I thought ‘this is going to be rubbish’,” she laughs.

“Now it’s completely taken over my life, which my partner isn’t very happy about. But to be honest, everything about Whoopsa100 was his idea – he designed the leaflets and the website, and he’s as much involved as me, if not more.”

Despite enjoying her day job as a police officer, Magda explains she’d happily drop everything if she could just focus on fundraising and running.

“TRS has changed my life – it has changed my focus completely. I could quit my job right now if I could just concentrate on running and raising money for Whoopsadaisy – I would totally do it. I go to work now and all I’ve got on my mind is Whoopsa100.

“We are considering making it an official yearly event, if it’s successful, where people could sign up and pay a fee to join and 50% of the profits would go to Whoopsadaisy.

“But that would involve a lot of logistics, so now I just have to start playing the lottery!” she adds.