SARA Crosland has tackled ultramarathons and climbed mountains since undergoing surgery for a rare brain tumour in May 2018, with her latest challenge she hopes to set a world record.

Beginning on September 5, Sara will be running the length of the country, from Land's End to John O'Groats. The outdoor education tutor, who is originally from Chester but lives in Ellesmere Port, hopes to raise money for both the British Acoustic Neuroma Association (BANA) and Manchester Skull Base Foundation whilst also becoming the world's fastest female, with single-sided deafness, to do so.

Sara said: "Since my surgery, I've liked to set myself goals to help with my recovery and to keep me motivated. I was at a bit of a loss as to what I could do next that didn't involve international travel and then I thought, 'I wonder if I could do Land's End to John O' Groats?'"

Sara initially messaged her coach, Jon Fearne, who is based in Fort William, to discuss the idea. However, she received no response.

"I didn't realise at the time he was out in the middle of nowhere. In those few days where I hadn't heard from him I thought 'maybe it's not a great idea'. I talked myself out of it a couple of times, and then he replied: go for it."

Chester and District Standard: Sara giving a talk on hidden disability awareness in a local school.Sara giving a talk on hidden disability awareness in a local school.

Responses from SpeedoMick, the Liverpudlian fundraiser, who recently completed a 2,500 mile walk for charity and current world record holder Carla Molinaro were similarly encouraging. The 47-year-old runner and author said that she and her coach decided that once a solid base level of fitness was in place, the 855 mile distance would be achievable.

"With a challenge like this, a lot of it comes down to the psychological aspect, rather than physical fitness and having gone through what I've already been through I think I've become used to having to push myself."

Sara's tumour haemorrhaged three weeks prior to her operation during which her hearing and balance nerve was severed, meaning that she would have to painstakingly relearn how to balance and walk again. She was also made profoundly deaf in one ear.

Despite still suffering with side effects from her surgery, including fatigue, tinnitus, double vision and motion sickness (which has necessitated a change to slower, endurance-based events) Sara is determined to raise awareness of these hidden disabilities whilst working to overcome them.

"I hope I can show people that I do still struggle and to document that along the way. I know people look at me and think 'you look really healthy' but they don't see what goes on behind that and how much effort it takes just to get up and out of the door on the not so good days.

"I also want to prove that ordinary people can go out there and do something extraordinary."

Chester and District Standard: The 47-year-old is an ambassador for BANA.The 47-year-old is an ambassador for BANA.

The BANA and Manchester Skull Base Foundation both featured heavily in Sara's recovery and continued to be a source of support once she had left Salford Royal, where she was treated just over four years ago.

"A number of the surgeons who operated on me are involved with Manchester Skull Base Foundation. They are supporting important research into skull base disease. I hope that one day, no one has to go through the current life saving, but life-changing treatment; that better, less invasive options will be available. Then there's BANA, a charity which provides a support network for people going through that diagnosis. There are face to face and online support group meetings. On many occasions these have been a lifeline for me.

"These were hit quite badly with the initial lockdowns, but we switched to doing a lot of meetings online and it was an opportunity to interact with people across the country. They've been a great source of support for anything from advice on benefits to Access To Work grants and the day-to-day problems which we can encounter with referrals.

"My experience at Salford was fabulous, but I've noticed that this is not the same across the country. There is a lot of disparity and many people are misdiagnosed initially or they might leave hospital with no follow up for vestibular rehab therapy, audiology or psychological support should it be needed.

"The last thing that you want after going through that ordeal is to have another battle on your hands."

Sara says that the difficulties that people with brain tumours face not only at diagnosis but with aftercare is another area which she hopes to highlight through her journey.

She is currently training between five and six days a week, with a mixture of speed work, strength training and recovery runs as she prepares to begin the journey on September 5. Although the distance may frighten many, Sara has said that the logistical challenges have been equally tough and that she is now looking forward to getting started.

"Getting out there and running will probably be the least of my worries," she laughs. "I've had sponsorship from businesses which has really helped. There are things like hiring a support vehicle, which isn't cheap and fuel which is so expensive at the moment as well as places to stop along the way. That's probably been more stressful and time consuming than actually training. Hopefully it'll all come together.

"I'm excited [about September]. I'm looking forward to hitting the road, having all the plans and the route sorted and to just start running."

Guinness World Records have recently opened a new classification for those with unilateral hearing loss and Sara is hoping to become the fastest female to complete the route. She is pushing for society as a whole, to be more aware of the hidden issues created by conditions like brain tumours, and says the new classification is "a step in the right direction."

Sara will also be joined for parts of the challenge by other runners and cyclists, including five-time Olympian Jo Pavey, and has expressed her thanks for the help she has received from several sources including: Essar, Running at 40+ (an online running club for which Jo Pavey is an ambassador), Addhire, Purition, Proviz, Northern Divers and Solgar Vitamins.

Those who would like to follow Sara's progress can visit: where links can be found for both BANA and Manchester Skull Base Foundation donation pages along with an online map which will be regularly updated.