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Batty Wooler woman races home for charity

Anne Youngman (63 years young), originally from Wooler, completed her first ever ultramarathon, starting in Melrose, Scotland and ending in Wooler, England, and scooped first prize in her age group category.

Her 45-mile ultramarathon challenge included an ascent over 6,000 feet and running through the night. A keen bat enthusiast, she has raised nearly £3,000 towards the conservation charity Bats without Borders.

The ultramarathon started in Melrose (in the Scottish Borders) on Friday 23rd of June and followed the St Cuthbert’s Way long-distance trail. The event began at 10.30 pm, which meant the challenge of running through the night. Anne’s special interest is bats, so she did her running with a bat detector attached to her pack. The detector picks up the ultrasonic calls the bats make and records them for identification later. Anne said, “I saw quite a few bats as the sky gradually got lighter, but I expect to have recorded lots more that I just could not see. The St Cuthbert’s Way goes through some wonderful areas of bat habitat (areas with woodland, water and wildflowers), so I’m really looking forward to seeing what types of bats I have recorded.”

Anne worked for the Bat Conservation Trust (BCT), a UK charity, as their Scottish Officer for 15 years before retiring in 2018. She did her first marathon and raised around £5,000 for BCT in 2021. Her interest in bats is worldwide and she is an education team volunteer for Bats without Borders, a charity focused on bat conservation in southern Africa. She undertook her ultra challenge to raise funds for Bats without Borders. So far, she has raised nearly £3,000 towards her £4,500 target. Anne says, “Bats are an incredibly important, and much misunderstood, group of mammals that are vulnerable to human impacts. They are a critical species in the ecosystems in which they live – controlling insect pests, pollinating plants, and dispersing seeds. Sadly, Africa is considered a bat conservation void and bats are largely unprotected outside of protected areas. Habitat loss, land degradation and persecution are major threats to bat populations.”

The money raised supports African bat conservation and early career capacity strengthening across southern Africa. Rachael Cooper-Bohannon, Conservation Scientist and Bats without Borders Founder, remarks, “We are incredibly grateful for Anne’s outstanding commitment to bat conservation. Her determination and courage have inspired our community and shed light on the importance of protecting these magnificent creatures. This fundraising effort will go a long way in supporting our conservation initiatives and creating a better future for bats.”

Anne’s goal was to finish her ultra and still be able to smile.  She was delighted not only to achieve this but also to be the first female finisher in her age category F60-69. “To be honest, I was the ONLY female in that category so as long as I finished I was bound to be first (and last). Still, I’m very proud to be the oldest female entrant. I will never be a fast runner but I have discovered that I am quite a good plodder. I really enjoy just gently jogging along trails, hearing birds singing, taking in the changing scenery and even sometimes running in the rain. I am 63 now and intend to continue gently jogging well into older age.”

Anne said, “I was brought up in Wooler and still have lots of family and friends in the area. It was wonderful to revisit my old haunts and then to finish on a high note with friends and family to share the experience.”

To support Anne’s epic endeavour please visit the Bats without Borders website.

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Creaky old bat goes ultra for Bats without Borders!

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Notes to editors Notes for Editor  Bats without Borders is dedicated to conserving bats, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems within southern Africa’s changing landscape. We will achieve this by supporting and conducting applied research that informs targeted conservation action, strengthening local capacity and promoting a positive attitude towards bats through public engagement. As a small NGO we are largely a volunteer-based organisation. We are very fortunate to have a committed, dedicated and passionate team, who are the core of Bats without Borders. Bats without Borders website – The St Cuthbert’s Way ultra marathon is organised by Trail Outlaws. 

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Ruth Fraser

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Bats without Borders

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