Loved ones' inspiration will keep runners running

Runners will be inspired by the memories of loved ones as they run through the pain barrier during the Perkins Great Eastern Run this weekend.

Friday, 6th October 2017, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:11 pm
Del Singh training for the Great Eastern Run EMN-170310-170451009

The annual half marathon and fun run takes place in Peterborough on Sunday, with thousands of amateur athletes pounding the streets to raise funds for local and national charities.

Every runner has their own story to tell, with many choosing a charity which is close to their hearts.

Abigail Luker (45) will be running the 13 miles in memory of ex-husband Ben Devonshire.

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Wendy Freeland

The former policeman and Commonwealth Games weightlifting medallist died earlier this year from a heart condition - just a few months after his brother, Francis, died from the same condition.

Abigail, from Stilton, who will be running with friend Sammy Darling, said: “They both had a congenital heart problem that had not been picked up. It had effectively been lying in wait for them.

“We were still very close, and our daughter, Lily, has been through so much over the past year.

“I am running in memory of Ben - he was a good bloke.

Great Eastern Runners Sammy Darling and Abi Luker running in memory of Ben and Francis Devonshire EMN-170210-183648009

“I have never done anything like this before - I am hoping to run under three hours. We have raised £750 for the British Heart Foundation so far.

“I don’t think Ben would have run it, but I know he would have been very proud.”

Wendy Freeland, of Orton Brimbles, has been using her mum’s love of Motown music to keep her going through the long training runs this year.

Del Singh training for the Great Eastern Run EMN-170310-170438009

Barbara died at Thorpe Hall Hospice in March after a battle with cancer, and Wendy will raise money for the Thorpe Hall hospice to pay tribute to the work the staff did looking after her mum.

Barbara had been diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the year, and her family cared for her at home as she wished. But providing that care became harder and harder. The turning point came when Barbara could no longer get out of bed to use the toilet. Feeling her dignity was going she suggested Thorpe Hall Hospice may be a better place for her to be.

Wendy said: “Mum hadn’t really known we were there over the weekend and we barely had a conversation with her. But within hours of being at Thorpe Hall that Monday the transformation was just incredible. With the right medication and level of care she was sitting up in bed instead of being slumped over. The fluid had drained from her face. She was laughing and joking. And most importantly she was comfortable.”

The following nine days were full of love and laughter for the Freeland family.

The map of the run

“We went back to being her family because someone else was doing the caring,” said Wendy, a mum-of-three. “She did colouring and drawing with the grandchildren and we wheeled her outside in her bed so she could watch them on the play equipment. They went from being scared about seeing Nanny looking so poorly to asking when they could go and see Nanny because it was fun!”

Wendy has been training hard with her partner Steve for the run - although she expects Steve to be quicker than her. She said: “My partner Steve is a really keen runner and I’ve often cheered him on from the sidelines,” said Wendy. “I started doing a little bit of running after Mum died and I found it helped, particularly when I listened to her favourite songs. We are so grateful for what Thorpe Hall did for us I wanted to raise money – being sponsored to do something so far out of my comfort zone felt worthwhile.”

For more information about supporting Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice, call fundraising team on 01733 225999 or emailing [email protected]

Del Singh, of Eastfield Road, was inspired to take part after one of his friends was taken ill.

He said: “A friend of mine, Darren, came to see me, and said he had bladder cancer - it was a cruel twist as he had always had a healthy lifestyle .

“I wanted to do something to help, so I signed up to do the Great Eastern Run for Cancer Research.

Wendy Freeland

“We all know someone who has been affected by cancer - it touches us all in one way or another.”

Del - who has started presenting his own chatshow on satellite TV station The Sikh Channel - said he is hoping to use his guests as inspiration.

He said; “I will be interviewing the director of Cancer Research UK, Sir Hapal Singh Kumar, on my show later this year - he is such an intelligent man. I will also be interviewing Fauja Singh two days before the race - he is one of the oldest marathon runners in the world, so he will be a huge inspiration to me - if he can run a marathon aged 100, I can run a half marathon aged 55!”

Road closures

Both the half marathon and the Anna’s Hope fun run will start and finish on The Embankment. The 5km fun run starts at 10am on Sunday October 8 and the half marathon follows at 10.30am.

The following roads will be closed between 9.30am and 10.45am: Rivergate, Bourges Boulevard (southbound) from the Queensgate roundabout, Priestgate, Cathedral Square, Long Causeway and Broadway.

In general, all other roads along the route will be closed from 9.30am until 2pm. However, as the last runner passes each mile point, that road junction will reopen.

The mile points and approximate reopening times are:

1 mile - 11am - Broadway to Northminster

2 mile - 11.15am - Park Road to Park Crescent

3 mile - 11.30am - Fulbridge Road to Foxdale

4 mile - 11.45am - Paston Ridings to Witham Way

5 mile - 12pm - Corfe Avenue to Rockingham Grove

6 mile - 12.15pm - Lincoln Road to Staverton Road

7 mile - 12.30pm - David’s Lane to Hodgson Avenue

8 mile - 12.45pm - Fulbridge Road to Aster Drive

9 mile - 1pm - Donaldson Drive to Pratt Avenue

10 mile - 1.15pm - Fulbridge Road to Tennyson Road

11 mile - 1.30pm - Dogsthorpe Road to Park Road

12 mile - 1.45pm - Eastfield Road to Boongate

13 mile - 2pm - Embankment - finish

Great Eastern Runners Sammy Darling and Abi Luker running in memory of Ben and Francis Devonshire EMN-170210-183648009
Del Singh training for the Great Eastern Run EMN-170310-170438009
The map of the run