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Police hunt for missing endurance athlete who vanished after finishing charity marathon challenge

An endurance athlete has gone missing just days after completing a marathon running challenge for a mental health charity.

Sarah Thomson, 28, ran a marathon a day for a week for the charity Mind, completing her final run last Tuesday in three hours and 40 minutes.

She took on the challenge to help her own mental health after becoming ‘horrifically low’ during previous lockdowns.

But she has not been seen since 2pm on Saturday and police are becoming increasingly concerned for her welfare.

There was a large police presence in her home town of Newquay, Cornwall, yesterday as the search widened.

Endurance athlete Sarah Thomson, 28, has gone missing just days after completing a marathon running challenge for a mental health charity Mind

Coastguards, police and helicopters were involved in the search, which appeared to focus on the Gannel Estuary to the south of the town. Pictured: The Gannel Estuary (file photo)

Coastguards, police and helicopters were involved in the search, which appeared to focus on the Gannel Estuary to the south of the town. Pictured: The Gannel Estuary (file photo)

Coastguards, police and helicopters were involved in the search, which appeared to focus on the Gannel Estuary to the south of the town.

Police were forced to dispel local rumours that the police operation was related to enforcing Covid restrictions.

Sarah is a former RAF fitness instructor and was undertaking a healthcare course with the ambition of becoming a paramedic.

She holds numerous records for endurance events and has been a professional surfer and dancer.

Sarah has also worked with Bear Grylls as one of his outdoor survival experts and has appeared on ITV’s ‘Bear Grylls Survival School’.

After completing the challenge she posted an emotional message on Facebook, describing her mental health issues and pride she felt in completing the challenge.

There was a large police presence in her home town of Newquay, Cornwall, yesterday as the search widened (file photo)

There was a large police presence in her home town of Newquay, Cornwall, yesterday as the search widened (file photo)

‘When I first planned to do these 7 in 7, the primary motivation was to put something in place to save my own head,’ she said.

‘Over 16 months I had tried a lot of things, desperately searching for something to remind myself I had some kind of mental strength to kick through something hard.

‘I looked back over my life and identified what I was doing when I was really happy and comparatively what was missing from that right now.’

She continued: ‘I have now realised that sporting competition is definitely a big factor in happiness for me.

‘But the biggest thing I’ve discovered is that more than that, it’s people and it’s love.

‘So many people have reached out with their own stories of similar situations, offering inspiration and advice and of hundreds of comments there have only been kind and supportive ones.’

During the challenge she nicknamed her legs Gary and Barry so she could ‘give them a good talking to’ when they got tired.

She left home as early as 2am on some days so she could get home in time to attend classes for her healthcare course.

She left at 5.30am on the remaining days so she would not encounter too many other people on her runs.

Sarah holds numerous records for endurance events and has been a professional surfer and dancer (file photo)

Sarah holds numerous records for endurance events and has been a professional surfer and dancer (file photo) 

As of lunchtime on Sunday, her JustGiving page had raised £6,830 for Mind.

Earlier in the week messages of support and congratulations flooded onto her Facebook page.

Aimee Stapleford wrote: ‘You are so incredible Sarah, such an inspiring post and what an amazing thing you have done to support so many others, you are one in a million precious lady and I hope you are proud of all of your incredible achievements.’

But yesterday messages of concern for her whereabouts began to appear.

Sarah Shanks said: ‘Ah no I read her story the other day, what a woman! Hope she turns up safe & gets some help again.’

Abigail Boggis added: ‘Praying you are found safe and well xx’

In a statement, Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘Police are concerned for the welfare of Sarah Thomson from the Newquay area.

‘She has not been seen since approximately 1400 this afternoon Saturday 30th January 2021.

‘If you have any information as to her location then please contact D+C Police quoting police log 749 30012021.’

During her remarkable athletics career Sarah won gold at the 2013 European Martial Arts Championships and she finished third in her first ultra marathon the following year.

She then finished 9th in the Women’s UK Pro Surfing Tour in 2014-15.

At the age of 23 she set the fastest known time for the 870-smile Wales Coast Path, with 55lbs of kit on her back, completing it in just 23.5 days.


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