Sophie Raworth: Reporting on coronavirus made me claustrophobic

Broadcaster Sophie Raworth has said she started to feel “claustrophobic” while reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.

The BBC news anchor said it felt like there was no getting away from the realities of the illness.

She told Runner’s World UK: “It was the first story I’ve ever done where it wasn’t something you could escape. After all, it’s affecting your life as much as everybody else’s.”

(Runner’s World UK/Philip Haynes)

She added: “This has been like no story I’ve done before. At work we live and breathe it, there’s no escape whatsoever. I did start to feel really claustrophobic. Everybody’s world is just that bit smaller.”

Raworth said running is the one thing that has offered a respite, adding: “Running – particularly when I can go at the weekend and run free in the countryside – has become a real escape. I love it.

“It makes me really happy. I can just run along, not see anyone, get lungfulls of fresh air and not think about anything at all. It just silences your brain.”

(Runner’s World UK/Philip Haynes)

She added that running ultramarathons has helped her take things as they come, saying: “What I learned then – and recently, with Covid, I have tried to apply it to life more generally – is that when everything seems to be terribly overwhelming, just take small steps.

“Some of those sand dunes, I’d look up and think: ‘There’s just no way I will get up there.’ But then I’d think: ‘No, look down. Look at your feet. Take small steps. Just concentrate on them and you will get there eventually.'”

Raworth also recalled passing out during her first London Marathon in 2011 and said: “I was absolutely fine until about 17 miles. But I hadn’t drunk enough. Suddenly my skin was getting goosebumps – ‘this is odd,’ I thought, ‘I’m really hot, but I’m cold.’

(Runner’s World UK/Philip Haynes)

“I came through the underpass up out onto The Embankment and swerved smack into a barrier.

“Somebody said: ‘Go on Raworth! You can do it!’ so I bounced back on to the course.

“And the next thing I knew, I woke up on a stretcher, surrounded by people, with an oxygen mask on. I didn’t know what was going on. My brain just completely shut down.

“It was really, really frightening. I remember lying there, looking up at the sky and these nice wispy clouds and just thinking: ‘Oh my god, I’m dying.’”

The full interview is in the January 2021 issue of Runner’s World UK is on sale from December 3 and also available as a digital edition.

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