Now I know I have just posted about the Paris Marathon Mission, however, I truly felt as though this woman deserved a whole post of her own. I simply have to tell you about Sarah Hargreaves…
My Mum used to work with Sarah at York College, a fair few years ago now, but I had never had the pleasure of meeting her myself.
I first came across Sarah shortly after my diagnosis. She contacted me asking if she could run the London Marathon 2015 in aid of BTRC; I, of course, snapped her hand off, and was left dumbfounded how someone who I hadn’t even met would want to do something so kind. I quickly learnt of Sarah’s generous, caring and loving character. In her own words:
“I know some amazing people who are brilliant runners. Some can run a marathon in less than 3 hours; some can run three marathons in three days; some can do an ironman. Me….well, I’m just a bit of an old bird who happens to like running. It doesn’t come easy to me. I have to work very, very hard at it.
When I was at school, I hated cross country but was OK at athletics…but then I discovered smoking, drinking and boys (not necessarily in that order) and any chance of taking up running was long gone.
It took a few more years for me to take it up….and, at the age of 42, I finally kicked the habit (smoking, not men) and was challenged to do the Great North Run by some workmates and raise money for Cancer Research at the same time.
I stopped smoking and started running the same day.
It was a truly awful day.
I managed around half a mile, running behind my friends, calling them as many bad names as I could think of. When I stopped I was purple. I felt wretched…but I stuck at it. I built up my mileage gradually and, a few months later I completed the Great North Run in 2:10 in memory of my brother Simon, who died of cancer in 1999. I was very, very proud.
I came to absolutely love running and from there, built up my mileage to do marathons, of which I’ve now done seven (I think). It’s not easy. In fact, it’s bloody hard work. I have to train hard; very hard. But I love doing them and continue to fundraise in memory of my lovely brother.
Then, one day last year, when I was at work, I heard about some people fundraising for the Brain Tumour Research Campaign for a woman called Anna…the daughter of a friend, Linda Swabey, who worked at York College a few years before. I found out that Anna, at the age of 23, had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and, for whatever reason, her story just grabbed me. It grabbed me so much that I found out more about her charity…and discovered that brain tumours are the biggest cancer killers of people under the age of 40, but receive less than 1% of cancer research spending in the UK. So I decided that I wanted to do my bit to raise more funds for the BTRC and their amazing work in trying to combat this terrible killer.”
So yes, this amazing woman contacted me and ran the London Marathon in aid of BTRC after hearing of my story; how kind! Not only that, but she raised a hell of a lot of money in the process also.
We kept in touch and Mum and I kept saying how we would love to head down to York and visit her and many other of my Mum’s former colleagues, however, operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy seemed to take over our lives.
I was then very cheeky and contacted Sarah about running the Paris Marathon with me, and explained how I was keen to get a whole team together, and she jumped at the chance! Still never having met this lady, I, again was left shocked and very humbled.
This is where I began to learn that Sarah is not just caring, generous and loving, SHE IS AN ABSOLUTE NUTTER!
She contacted me to tell me that she knew she could run a marathon, and really wanted to challenge herself. Her crazy plans then began to fall into place:
April 3rd – Run the Paris Marathon
April 4th – Hop on a bike and begin the 277 mile cycle to Rotterdam
April 10th – Run the Rotterdam Marathon
As Sarah has called it “Two marathons and a bit of a bike ride” , or, alternatively, “ 3 Countries, 2 Marathons, 1 Old Bird”!!!!
I couldn’t believe what she was proposing! All I knew is that when I met her, I was going to give her the biggest hug humanly possible! I couldn’t wait!
When that moment came emotion consumed me, I had tears in my eyes and felt so happy to finally meet and talk in person. I don’t think any member of the team could quite get our heads around the challenge that lay ahead of Sarah and we were all in awe of her commitment to fundraising, in memory of Simon (pictured below), and for me and BTRC.
Paris Marathon completed in a very respectable time of 4hours 50mins, we met afterwards to celebrate the first success of her long journey. We hugged/cried goodbye and we all wished her well for her remaining two legs of her challenge. The morning after running 26.2 miles, Sarah, joined by her brother Andy, hopped on their bikes, and the support car driven by husband Chris. They casually cycled 70 miles!!!!!!
They arrived in Rotterdam on Friday, after having cycled nearer to 300 miles. This gave Sarah only one full day of rest before the final leg of her challenge!
We have all been following her progress intently on social media, and we were all hoping she would be able to complete the Rotterdam Marathon on Sunday and, more importantly, finish unscathed.
I was over the moon when I received a call from her telling me that SHE DID IT!! And, not only that, she only went and bloomin’ ran the Rotterdam Marathon 30 minutes faster than Paris! 4 hours 21 minutes!
Sarah has raised an absolutely UNBELIEVABLE amount of money for BTRC, and the total is still rising. Her total so far is:
If you do feel so inclined, Sarah’s fundraising hasn’t stopped yet and it would be so amazing if we could see her personal target hit that £5,000 mark! Her Just Giving page can be found here.
Additionally, if any of you live in the York area, Sarah is hosting a night of fundraising for varying cancer charities, including BTRC. This event is taking place on Saturday 16th April commencing at 8pm, The Basement, City Screen, York. It is a night of live music and Sarah asks you to join her in celebrating her marathon successes and to raise even more money! Sounds like fun to me, get your dancing shoes on! Tickets can be purchased from the City Screen Box Office –http://www.thebasementyork.co.uk/#!boxsmash/ck1p
All that is left to be said, is a HUGEEEEE congratulations to Sarah! We are all so proud of you and your achievements! And I am sure Simon is looking down on you filled with even more pride! Cannot wait to see you soon – lunch will definitely be on me!!