AN INTREPID ultra runner traversed the entire length of a US state without ever leaving the country.

Radcliffe Athletic Club member Michelle Hincks completed the 1,000km Virtual Great Run Across Tennessee after Covid-19 restrictions put paid to her planned ultra races at home and abroad.

The 36-year-old, from Ainsworth, had to complete the equivalent of the distance from the most south-westerly point of Tennessee to its north-western tip, in four months.

Despite the name of the event, the distance she covered is actually closer to 1,021km.

No stranger to ultra running Ms Hincks has previously completed a 156-mile race across the Namib Desert in southern Africa in 2018.

And after recovering from a painful rib injury, she had planned to complete a multi-day race in Kenya this summer, as well as a 50-mile ultra in the Lake District.

Ms Hincks described how running the Tennessee race amidst lockdown helped boost her mental wellbeing.

She said:“I was really struggling with my mental health over the latter part of last year and the beginning of this year.

"I was dealing with a lot of work stress so I was already in a pretty low place when Covid hit.

“An injury at the end of last year had also affected my ability to train.

"I had a bad viral chest infection and popped a rib and tore muscles when I was coughing.

"It was horrendous – I had never been in pain like that before and I couldn’t even walk as it sent shockwaves up my ribcage.

“With my races being cancelled, I had completely lost my motivation; then two friends I did the desert ultra with said they had signed up for the race across Tennessee.

“I thought it would give me a kick to get out and do some training; it would give me something to aim for and get me outside in the fresh air.”

To reach the finish line of her trans-Atlantic challenge Ms Hincks had to run an average of five miles everyday.

Organisers of the race had expected a few hundred people might participate, but Ms Hincks was one of 19,000 who did.

“There was great support on the event’s Facebook page and it was so good to be part of a community of runners from around the world,” she said.

Ms Hincks also praised Radcliffe AC for continuing to hold virtual training sessions during lockdown and introducing financial support for members.

She added: “This has been a really tough time for me and I'm definitely not alone – a lot of people have been struggling with their mental health due to coronavirus.

“Running really has helped me to get back on track and the club has been fantastic. It is so supportive.”