THE Montane Spine Race is one of the most brutal and challenging in Europe, and last month Shelli Gordon of the Let’s Run store in Stokesley not only completed it, but came second. This Winter Marathon is known as one of the toughest ultra distance races, and covers the spine of England; the whole of the Pennine Way. Competitors run day and night through the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales, the Northumberland National Park, finishing this test of mental and physical strength on the Scottish Borders; a distance of 268 miles.

Shelli completed in in 168 hours, through difficult terrain and darkness, rain, fog and 60mph winds, eating and drinking on the hoof, only stopping when she had to, because of hypothermia and a chest infection.

Determination and a need to raise awareness of mental health issues pushed her through this arduous challenge. She did it for her partner, Tony Holland, who committed suicide the day before she opened their shop in Stokesley two years ago, and to raise money for Calm (the Campaign against Living Miserably).

“Suicide is the biggest killer for men under 45,” said Shelli.” And the recurring theme is why? This was not just the reason being questioned, but a total disbelief and incomprehensibility as to how someone so happy and full of life could possibly feel that their only option was suicide. I want to make changes and the only way to do that is to make mental health awareness visible to everyone, to make sure that it’s ok to talk, and its ok to not be ok, to seek help, to support those needing help and to look out for each other. This is the only way to make this disease stop.”

Shelli’s CV is impressive. She started running at 10, completed her first marathon at 13, and her first ultra [56 miles] at 15. In May 2017 she ran the Cleveland Way and the Yorkshire Wolds Way; a distance of 200 miles in 52 hours and 36 minutes, and from 2013-2017 she has been the fastest finished female the Lyke Wake Walk race. She was a sergeant in the police force dog section and left in July 2017 to open her shop with Tony.

The atmosphere in Let’s Run is relaxed and friendly. She is meticulous in making sure people chose the right running shoes and test them by running round the block. Shelli’s many trophies for her running form an impressive display in glass cabinets.

“The day Tony died my life and my future changed, and I wanted something positive to come out of it, “she said. “ My target was to raise £1,500 for Calm, but at the last look at my Just Giving page, I had raised almost £28,000. As regards the future, I am hoping to make my shop a Trail Running Hub, and perhaps open a café where people can meet and chat.”

Calm website is where there is a webchat available, 7 days a week.

Shelli’s JustGiving page is at