SOLE DESTROYING - A super-tough adventurer has completed a historic feat of endurance - running 2,620 miles across the UK BAREFOOT

Anna McNuff set out from the Shetland Isles in June 2019 and, after 2,620 miles - the equivalent of 100 marathons - reached the finishing line.

SWNS_RUN_BAREFOOT_06.jpg Image by: Adam Harnett

A super-tough adventurer has completed a historic feat of endurance - running 2,620 miles across the UK BAREFOOT.

Anna McNuff set out from the Shetland Isles in June 2019 and, after 2,620 miles - the equivalent of 100 marathons - reached the finishing line today (Sun).

The intrepid explorer, who has previously cycled through all 50 US states and run the length of New Zealand, has been obsessed with running without shoes for a while now.

Tough Anna crossed the line, in Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon, south west London, at round 2pm, completing her 'Barefoot Britain' challenge.

Anna said: “It’s been a wonderful, weird, difficult and extraordinary five months.

"I have stepped in poo, glass - and even on a dead rabbit. You don’t have to run 100 marathons barefoot to have an adventure.

"But you do have to take that first step out of your comfort zone. I know that if girls can take those first adventurous steps, then they'll see what they are truly capable of.”

Before setting off, she said: “I’ve had a quiet obsession with minimalist running for a few years now, ever since I read Born to Run and spent time in New Zealand - where many of the kids run around barefoot.

“Feet are quite the complex machine, with over 7,000 nerve endings in each sole and 26 bones in each foot.

“This adventure is a huge experiment – I’m looking to see if I can coax my feet into doing what they were truly built to do, after a lifetime of being squidged up in shoes.”

Both of Anna’s parents were Olympians, and she grew up wanting to follow in their footsteps.

She went on to row for Great Britain, winning a bronze medal at the 2007 European Championships.

But, dogged by injuries in her twenties, she decided to retire and embark on a new life as an adventurer, travelling the world in pursuit of new and daunting endurance challenges and writing two books in the process.

Anna is an ambassador for UK Girl Guiding, and a central part of her mission is “to show the young women of Great Britain that there is more magic in them than they will ever know.”

Throughout her run, she stopped off to talk with groups of Girl Guides across the country, speaking to them about “ the joys of adventure and the great outdoors”.

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She said: “I wanted to show girls they can do anything.

"That’s why I’ve run the length of the UK in my bare feet – to show girls and young women that taking risks and doing things that scare them, big or small, can be incredible.

"And being a girl should not stop you from doing anything. I have spoken to thousands of girls in all over the UK and my message has always been ‘be bold, be brave and be you.’

"The girls are always so eager to see my feet and surprised that they don't look all that different to their own – mine just have a bit more dirt on them."

From the Shetland Isles, Anna’s run - which took five months - took her down the northeast coast of Scotland towards Inverness, before heading down to Glasgow and Edinburgh via Aberdeen.

Her route then took her across the border to Newcastle, through the Pennines to Yorkshire before heading to Liverpool and catching a ferry to Belfast.

After running along the Northern Irish coast, she took a ferry back to Wales and headed towards Nottingham, eventually heading down to Bristol and the southeast.

The last legs of her journey saw her cross over to the Isle of Wight, before heading up through Surrey towards London.

Anna encouraged supporters to help her out on the way, either by offering to transport her bag for a stage of the run, giving her somewhere to stay for the night or running alongside her.

She said: “Adventures are about a quest for growth. I figure that if I’m going to stand in front of young girls around the UK and encourage them take on challenges that they believe to be just beyond their reach – then I have to be on that journey too.”

Asked before she set out what she would do if she stepped on glass and cut her foot, Anna said: “I don’t know yet. But I figure I can only control the controllable.

“If I get injured or step on a broken Irn Bru bottle in the outskirts of Glasgow, then I will deal with that then.”

Her adventure has even baffled her own mother.

Anna added: “She thinks I’m bonkers. But then again she’s bonkers too and she raised me to believe in what is possible, rather than focus on what isn’t.

“Therefore, really - this is all her doing.”