She has only ever run three marathons before but Sara Bird is already preparing to realise her dream of representing her country.
The 27-year-old from Bury has enjoyed a rapid rise in the distance she only competed in for the first time in Dublin in 2011, culminating in being selected for a two-women England team for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Canada on October 19.
And the Stanton-based accountant’s assistant hopes it will be the first of many international outings.
“It has always been my goal to run for England or Great Britain and I have achieved that,” she said.
“It is now a case of moving on to bigger and better things.
“I am pretty excited really, it will be a good experience and hopefully the first stepping stone to further selections.”
Bird first took up running while at Westley Middle School but has only recently progressed to the 26.2-mile distance.
The Woodford Green and Essex Ladies member, who runs for St Edmunds Pacers as a secondary team, finished her first marathon in three hours and four minutes in Dublin.
Since then she has competed in the last two London Marathons, clocking 2.46 in 2013 before improving on that in April with 2.39.55.
And although happy to enjoy her first international women’s elite race, which is set to draw in runners from countries such as distance powerhouses Kenya, she is looking to bring that time down further in Canada.
“I haven’t really got any targets other than I just want to improve on my personal best if I can and experience running for England for the first time and see what bigger competitions are like,” she said, having been training hard, with some expert help this time.
“My first two attempts were self-coaching and it was only in January that I got a coach who helped me.” she added.
Clive Sparks will also be the manager for her England team in Toronto, which also includes teammate Rebecca Robinson.
Bird will also have plenty of support on the roadside with her Bury-based parents Trevor and Paula Bird flying over for her international debut.
Her sister and brother-in-law and her husband’s parents are also all travelling up from America.
The Shellbourne Reynolds Engineering Ltd employee has been building up the distances in her training and will run the Grunty Fen half marathon in Ely on September 14 as part of her preparations.
Bird, who self funds her running, is also looking for potential sponsors to help with physiotherapy and sports massage costs, anyone interested should email her at email@example.com