After the official Isle of Wight Ultra Run was postponed due to coronavirus restrictions, a brother and sister team decided to take on the 52km challenge on their own to avoid missing out on the chance to raise money.

Originally scheduled for 1st May having been postponed from May 2020, the Isle of Wight Ultra event invites runners and walkers to register to do either the full 100km circuit around the island or the shorter 52km distance.

Brother and sister team, Poppy and Joe Penhaul Smith, signed up for the 52 km run in 2020. Disappointed not to be able to take part, they were determined to run in 2021, but the rescheduled date of July meant that Poppy would already have left for a job in Germany.

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They decided to run, with family as support crew, on the original May Bank Holiday weekend. They had both trained throughout lockdown and raised over £1000 of sponsorship. It was important to them both to do the distance.

Given that travelling and staying in self-contained accommodation is now allowed, the team decided to run, as planned, on the Island. Their reasons were two-fold; to enjoy the beautiful scenery and see their Cowes-based brother, who has recently returned from New Zealand where he was working with the America’s Cup INEOS team UK.

Poppy and Joe set off early from Chale and ran the coast path. They met family bearing extra water and food rations at various stops along the way. Mum, stepfather and brother walked the stretch from Freshwater Bay to the Tennyson monument with them before waving them on their way to Yarmouth. They finished in 7 hours and 26 minutes in Cowes having run a total of 55km.

The event was made even more significant because they were running to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Poppy was diagnosed with the genetic condition shortly after her birth. Sufferers typically have poor lung health and running, whilst considered great physiotherapy, can be very difficult for sufferers who often describe breathing as ‘like sucking air in through a straw’.

Poppy was lucky enough to be prescribed one of the new generation of CF drugs in October 2020. The drugs have been developed through worldwide research and their use in the UK was the subject of a successful campaign by the CF Trust. It has transformed life for Poppy, and many other CF sufferers.

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She now finds breathing much easier and running long distances has become a pleasure rather finding herself gasping for air after a 5 km jog around the block. The funds the pair raised with their run will go directly to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to benefit other CF families. Joe plans to return for the official event in July.

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