Joe Morrell was still writing his university dissertation when he pitted himself against the ultimate test of endurance running a phenomenal 10 marathons in 10 days.
And after being presented with his sport rehabilitation degree at Carlisle Cathedral this week, the graduate from Huddersfield said he owed everything to University of Cumbria (UoC).
He explained: “It has been absolutely amazing. I know it’s a cliché but the whole experience has changed my life, become part of who I am and let me understand there’s no limit to what I’m capable of.”
Taking part in the Lake District-based Brathay 10 in 10 could not have been more challenging for the 25-year-old, who spent his life until university overcoming scars left by a childhood malignant brain tumour.
He explained: “With my finals approaching and dissertation to finish, the 262-mile event was always going to spell serious effort and hardship.
“It was exhausting in the extreme trying to balance training with university work and difficult personal issues. It took everything out of me to reserves I never thought I had.
“To do one marathon is draining; all the preparation in the world doesn’t prepare the body for 10 in 10. It’s phenomenal, quite possibly something we are not meant to do.
“I keep saying it, but without the support of my lecturers, staff and the Students Union I could never have done it, or achieved my 2:1 degree. I owe them everything and will be thankful forever for what they did for me.”
Although Joe’s ultimate goal is to own a rehabilitation gym for ex-military, he says he is very pleased to be staying at UoC in the short-term as welfare and support officer for the Student Union.
He added: “It’s a great role for me where I’ll be running welfare campaigns, chairing trustee meetings and supporting students on their university journey.
“I want to help them understand that exercise and sport not only benefits physical wellbeing, but give a substantial mental boost too. I want to support every student the way I’ve been buoyed through my entire time here.”