John Melbourne
took on the
challenge of a lifetime to help hundreds of hens by
completing the gruelling 74 mile run across the
Alps. He completed the challenge in 24 hours 13
minutes, raising a whopping £863.75. WOW! John
came 203
out of 1,500 competitors and we asked
him half a dozen questions about his fundraising
achievements and, of course, the hens that inspired
A little bird told us your wife persuaded you to
have some ex-bats, despite your reluctance; what
was it about adopting them that changed your self-
confessed scepticism about hens as pets?
It has been hugely rewarding seeing the girls
put weight on, grow their feathers and develop
into real characters. I never would have imagined
they had such unique personalities, they are
brilliant gardeners too.
Do your ex-bats have names, and were you involved in the name
They are called Kona, Waikiki and Oahu which are all places in Hawaii
we visited whilst on honeymoon a few years ago. The naming was a joint effort and involved a
lengthy debate.
You obviously need a specialist diet to become such a good athlete, do the eggs your hens lay
form part of your fitness regime?
Being a vegetarian it is difficult to get enough protein to help the muscles through 100 miles a
week of training. The eggs have really helped and we are lucky that all 3 lay every day at the
moment. They taste really good too.
You recently came 4th in the 69.5 mile Hadrian’s Wall race, and of course ran the Mont Blanc
TDS on behalf of the charity in August. Do you have any other amazing challenges in mind, and
if so, what drives you to push yourself to such extremes?
I started running in 2003 primarily to get fit and completed the London marathon on behalf of
The Dogs Trust. Running then became a bit of an obsession and over time standard marathons
were no longer a challenge. I then started to compete in longer races culminating in the Mont
Blanc race this year. The plan for 2014 is the North Downs Way and Cotswold 100 mile races
and a sub 2:50 marathon in London!
Who lets the hens out first thing in the morning?
I am up at 6am every morning to let the girls out. Instead of a chore it’s really nice first thing to
be greeted by such a warm welcome and 3 happy faces as they stroll out of the house
Finally, what does your wife think of your achievements for ‘the girls’?
Nellie describes herself as a 'running widow'; however she is really pleased that I have
embraced the hens into our lives and that I ran for the BHWT. She is hoping to do something
similar (albeit shorter) next year.