2 veteran long-distance runners are planning a swansong marathon run across the Island to raise money for the local charity Home-Start.

Christine Armstrong, 67, of Freshwater and Cherry Owens, 73, of Ventnor, had planned to bow out at the London Marathon but when that event was cancelled due to Covid-19, they looked closer to home for a suitable challenge to call time on their endurance running.

They devised a course from the Needles to Sandown – the start being close to Christine’s home while Sandown is where Cherry, who is a volunteer with Home-Start, grew up.

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Between them, the pair have racked up over 30 marathons and many more long-distance races including ultras. Christine, a former research scientist and teacher of secondary school science began running in her 50s and sees it as a way of maintaining mental and physical wellbeing. Cherry, has been running 30 years having taking it up as a way to improve fitness.

The pair met at West Wight Road Runners about 8 years ago and they soon struck up a friendship.

Cherry said:

“We soon found we ran at about the same pace and enjoyed each other’s company. In fact we are quite well known for talking while we run and we haven’t run out of things to say yet!”

In 2018 they qualified for London Marathon ‘good for age’ places for the now-cancelled 2020 run.

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Cherry said:

“We were very excited about running the London course and savouring the atmosphere. We’d both run it before but planned to do it for pleasure rather than for a time. We had both decided this was to be our last marathon as now we are older the training and distance is very taxing and our bodies are starting to protest!”

Though initially disappointed, the pair soon came up with their alternative plan – a route that will take them across the Tennyson and Bembridge Trails. They will run in purple and orange which are the colours of Home-Start on Sunday October 4th – 45,000 London Marathon entrants in 40 different countries are also adopting alternative routes on the same day to mark the cancelled event

Christine said:

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“It seems we have been in training for ever, thanks to the original event being delayed from April. Marathon training is hard so it has been difficult for those of us who are not in the first flush of youth to sustain it physically.

“Plus, given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, there has been serious doubt whether any event can take place so it’s been hard to sustain the necessary determination when fatigue has set in.”

Though a more testing course than the largely flat London Marathon circuit, both are confident of completing their forthcoming challenge and have set a fundraising target of £500 for Home-Start Isle of Wight – a voluntary organisation that offers support to parents/carers who are facing difficulties.

Christine said:

“Cherry and I both know that a marathon is in two halves, the first 20 and the last 6 miles…however, I’m delighted to hear buddy runners may join us for some sections which will lift our spirits as well as making sure we don’t get lost.”

Though this will be their last marathon, both ladies are planning to keep active within the Island’s running community and hope that their exploits will encourage others to get involved.

You can support their fundraising via the following link: 

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