Horsham father completes epic running challenge

Robert during his challenge
Robert during his challenge

A father-of-three from Horsham, who was inspired by a book about the world’s best ultra-runners in North America, has completed a double marathon for charity.

Robert Caister, who works in customer care for house builder Bovis Homes, ran the Race to the King along the South Downs Way to Winchester Cathedral to raise money for the Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.

Robert took on the 52.4-mile challenge after reading Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run, which highlights Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who are reputed to be the best distance runners in the world.

The 44-year-old completed the race in 13 hours 21 minutes and has raised nearly £500 for the charity.

He was supported by his wife Maxine and three children; Oliver 13, Amelie, nine and Oscar, eight.

Robert said: “It felt so rewarding, the last few miles were really tough – each mile seemed like two miles.

“At one point I was handed a quarter of an orange by a spectator, it tasted like the best thing I’ve ever had.

“The race was full of really normal people, of all ages, backgrounds and shapes and as you’re running, you’re not going at full pelt so you can chat and meet people, it was so inspirational.”

Robert’s family were there to support him and met him half-way as he stopped for pasta, as well as at the finish line.

Oscar, known for his cheeky character, had a message for his Dad at the end of the race.

Robert added: “The first thing Oscar said to me as I had just crossed the finish line was, ‘Daddy, I’m really thirsty’.

“He’s a trouble maker but it was so good to have them there!”

The regional customer care director, who is based at Bovis Homes’ Kings Hill office in Kent and has worked for the company for eight months, took up running around 15 years ago.

He progressed from 5k runs to half marathons, including the Richmond half marathon and the Poppy half marathon in Bexhill-on-Sea.

He has never competed in a marathon however, although he ran the distance as part of his training for the big race.

Robert’s three months’ training for Race to the King also included 15 half marathons and he said anyone who was healthy and interested in running could complete a double marathon challenge.

He said: “I was a very active squash player from my 20s and towards the end of my 30s, started doing more and more running.

“I didn’t fancy a marathon, I had so many friends that did but because they had set themselves a time goal they were disappointed if they missed it - even though they’d run 26 miles!

“For me, the achievement of running the distance is more important than the time it takes to do it.

“That’s why I wanted to do an ultra-marathon.

“I stopped listening to music and audio books and started thinking about my breathing and the way I was running.

“I find it like a form of meditation. Anyone that’s thinking about it, should do it.

“Don’t limit yourself to thinking a marathon distance is beyond you because you can go so far beyond that if you test yourself and your capabilities.”

Robert, who as a vegetarian gets his protein from snacking on cheese and nuts during race preparations along with all the carbs, will now focus on 5ks before competing in a longer challenge again.

Robert said that Chestnut Tree House was a ‘worthy cause’. The charity provides hospice care services for children and young people with progressive life-shortening conditions.

To help him achieve his £500 target, visit his Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robert-Caister1