11:30AM, Thursday 04 March 2021
Her feet hadn't yet blistered when 17-year-old Abby Jones spoke to the Advertiser this week about her charity challenge for Cancer Research UK, but she was expecting them to come.
Abby, 17, from Furze Platt in Maidenhead, was one day into a five-day challenge that will see her run 20kms a day, totalling 100kms.
That’s nearly a half-marathon every day for five days, but she’s determined to do something positive for a charity that’s been hit by the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
She's also motivated to complete the challenge as someone close to her family is currently suffering from cancer.
The Maidenhead Rowing Club member, who achieved national success with the club at the Junior Sculling Head at Dorney Lake a few years ago, has turned to running in lockdown with the rowing club and its boats temporarily off limits.
Her first run took her to Cookham and back on Monday and she's planning to complete four more 20km runs before the weekend.
“It’s going well so far, no blisters yet, but I’m sure I’ll get them,” said the 17-year-old A-Level student.
“I did it because it was lockdown, and there isn’t much to do, but also because someone quite close to us is suffering from cancer. It’s such a big charity and so many people are affected by it, so I just thought, why not challenge myself and raise as much money as possible for a great charity.
“I’m varying my runs. I’ve made a plan. If it’s raining, I won’t do the muddy paths. I’m basing my runs from home in Maidenhead. Yesterday (Monday) I went to Cookham and I’ll keep the runs in the area. I won’t be going too far from Maidenhead.”
Abby added that friends and family had offered to run with her on certain days, while her parents have been tracking her runs and popping up in different locations to provide much needed water and encouragement.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shortfall in donations and has seen fundraising events called off. It’s also slowed down the race to beat cancer, with many people having had treatments postponed. Abby initially hoped to raise at least £550 to enable one DNA next generation sequencing experiment – another step in the right direction to better treating people with the disease. However, she's smashed that target, raising £1,635 (or £2,018 with gift aid), 297 per cent of her original target.
“Running is part of our training for rowing, but at the moment we can’t go on the water. I have been running a lot more recently because of lockdown,” she said. “I get nervous every time I go out for one of the runs. I know what to expect and I know it’s going to be hard every time.
“I’ve got people tracking my route, they’re going along with me and seeing where I am. By the end of this week, I’m assuming I’m going to be exhausted, but hopefully I’ll be able to do it. I did start off really slowly yesterday, but I’m trying to keep the pace the same most days.
“The support I’ve had has been amazing. I’ve been completely overwhelmed by it. I put my target to raise £550 and it’s completely gone over that.
“I’ve had people volunteering to run certain parts with me and my parents have been water suppliers and are encouraging me on. But I’m quite motivated and I always want to challenge myself.”
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