Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Somerset Wildlife Trust’s own Marathon Runner, 2018!

Vangasse AnthonyWe would like to introduce Tony Vangasse, an amazing long distance runner, who has very kindly volunteered to run the 2018 London Marathon on behalf of us, to raise money for the work we do! is a little bit of information about him and how you can help him reach his £1,500 target. 




Hi, I'm Tony and 'I'm a supporter of the Somerset Wildlife Trust, along with other local and national wildlife charities. I am a big lover of wildlife, hence relocating next to a nature reserve 10 years ago, and I also enjoy running! Coming from a family of runners, it wasn't long before I became one too, competing in my first half marathon aged only 13!  Since then I have run hundreds of races, but I particularly enjoy running in Somerset within the wonderful nature reserves and was lucky enough to win the Somerset Series cup a few years ago.

I also enjoy raising money when competing in races, such as the Bristol and Bath half-marathons. Just last summer I ran 80 miles of the Offa's Dyke trial as part of a self-organised team, raising £6000 for a local charity.

We need to protect our beautiful Somerset landscape and the nature within it and running for the charity feels like a further contribution I can make, plus bringing awareness to the work of Somerset Wildlife Trust. I also love the idea of my children, in whom I am trying to cultivate a love of nature, seeing their father running for wildlife and I'm sure they will be the loudest children cheering on the day!

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Tony's Blog!

18th February 2018 

17 Miles run this morning on a circuit that covered three local nature reserves, including the brilliant SWT Westhay reserve.  So much going on there, including the usual marsh harriers and a great white egret landing on the path in front of me, but it didn't hang around for long.  Definitely loads more singing birds as the weather warmed up for the weekend.  On such a large circuit from my house around the lanes of the Somerset Levels, I'm bound to see and hear plenty of birds: from fieldfares and redwings keeping up with me through the tree tops, to a tiny goldcrest right by my elbow.

Felt good up to 13 miles, but keeping the pace over the last 3 miles was pretty painful.  I managed to keep to 6:40min miles throughout.  Ankles are a little sore now - I'll need to be careful the fast pace doesn't cause me an injury before the event.  So much of running is about listening to your body.  

I have 3 more long runs before the event, so need to keep upping the milage.  Not long now!'

3rd February 2018 

It was time for another 'long' training run today; something I'm trying to do every two weeks in addition to my regular 3-4 mile runs.  If I am to get anywhere near the marathon distance before the big day, I need to up my distance by 2 or 3 miles every two weeks.  I managed 13 miles today, but the pace was much harder to maintain over the last two miles.  I'm still on target for a sub-3 hour marathon, but the reality of that task is becoming ever more apparent!

I timed my run to be on the local nature reserve at dusk as the starlings arrived in their 100s of thousands, not treating us tonight with the usual murmuration, but dropping down immediately among the lapwings and ducks in the reed beds to join them in the usual cacophony.  No bitterns booming yet, but it won't be long now.

I met with Emma from the SWT for the first time today, as she drove up to my local reserve to take a few photos for the SWT website and to catch up.  Emma's enthusiam for the SWT is contagious and I feel I'm running for a great charity, so please do keep the donations coming.  A huge thanks again to those who have already kindly donated.

21st January 2018

Two more weeks of training and another long run in the bag, this time 10 miles.  It's getting harder to maintain the pace as the distance gets further, but I'm still managing 6:30min miles.    Plenty of aches, but no pains yet.  My long run was later in the day this time and the low sun set the reed-beds aglow on the reserve, pure gold in colour against the back rainclouds over the Mendip hills, the lapwing flocks flashing silver over the water.  It's surprising how a little sun in a rainy day can affect the wildlife: I ran past four skylarks hovering low over stubble, singing like it was mid-June.  A huge thanks to those who have sponsored me to date and the kind words of encouragement; I'm a 5th of the way to the £1,500 target already! Feel free to follow me on Instagram, where I'm posting photos of my training:

10th January 2018

The marathon training has now picked up in earnest.  Saturday saw me out early in the frost for an 8 mile run across the nature reserves on the Somerset Levels. With not a soul about on Shapwick Heath, there was plenty of wildlife about, including the usual egrets and herons, but the highlight was having an large otter cross the path only yards in front of me, passing from the South Drain into the reed beds.  Just goes to show what's on the move if you get up early!

The intention was to do some cross-country training too, to build some strength; however, the fields behind my house on the Somerset levels are mostly flooded with the amount of rain we've had over the past few weeks.  Not great for running, but great for bringing in wading birds.  We've had great displays of lapwings and there are a few snipe dotted about.

My plan is to run 3-4 miles every few days, with a long run every two weeks.  Adding two miles to the long run each time should get me to 20+ miles before the big event, providing I don't pick up any injuries.  I'd love to complete the marathon in 3 hours, but we'll see how I progress in training.  I'll keep you posted.


When is the right time to start training for a marathon?  Weeks, months, years before?  I ran my only other marathon 15 years ago and, despite some 20-mile training runs within a month of the event, I ‘blew a gasket’ in the last 6 miles and got a lousy time.  So, I’ll be starting training a little earlier for the 2018 London Marathon and this blog should keep me honest. 

In the spirit of the charity I am running for, I’ll also be trying to do most of my distance running on Somerset nature reserves; not least because I love spending time on them, especially this time of year when winter visitor birds are migrating here.

So, how much training have I done over the last fortnight?  None!  I’ve been in London and Norway for work and in Exmoor to check out the annual deer rut with my family; however, I promise my next blog will confirm the trainers are back on and the miles will be clocking up before the big event.  I’ll build the miles slowly, covering around 10 miles per week in November.  I should probably build a training plan – I’m open to suggestions!