Crossing the finishing line of her first half-marathon on Sunday was an emotional experience for teacher Lauren Sparrow.
Not only did those final steps mark the completion of 13.1 miles she never dreamed she could achieve, but it was the end of her 1,000km fund-raising running challenge.
Lauren, of Thurston, was greeted at the end of the Bury St Edmunds Running Festival event by her friend and inspiration Ian Payne, who managed to stand from his wheelchair to congratulate her.
In November 2015 Ian, of Bury, fell from his ladder trying to get something off a garage roof. Seriously injured, the East Anglian Air Ambulance flew to his aid and he was treated at the scene by paramedics before being transported to hospital by land ambulance.
“The air ambulance came to Ian’s rescue and is the main reason he is still with us today,” said Lauren. “For weeks we weren’t sure if he would survive and for months it looked like he may never walk again, so when New Year 2017 dawned I decided to do something to raise some money for the air ambulance with Ian as my inspiration.”
As a non-runner, Lauren thought she could manage 365km in 12 months and set that as her target. However, she soon upped her challenge to 365 miles, before increasing it again to 1,000km. This meant a weekly commitment of 20km alongside her full-time job.
Ten months on, she has exceeded her own expectations by finishing the challenge two months early as well as completing the half-marathon, the longest distance she had ever covered.
“Seeing Ian’s face at the finish was amazing, I nearly cried. And knowing I’d run all that way for him was worth every tired muscle, bleeding toe and injury I’ve had along the way,” added Lauren.
She hopes to raise £1,000 but is just short of her target. Sponsor her at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lauren-sparrow
- Running festival – pages 128-129