Tuesday 13th December 2016
"I started running competitively for Bexley Borough Athletic Club when I was 10 years old and I represented my club in the under 20s National 1500m Steeplechase Final. I am a lifelong Mod and have been a Paul Weller fan since I borrowed the album All Mod Cons by the Jam from Erith Library when I was 14 years old. Just after my 18th birthday I was diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis and I was told that I would probably never run again.
My battle with this debilitating disease, and also anxiety and depression, has been long, painful and challenging - but I am happy to say that I am currently in remission from the arthritis and running helps me manage my depression too. And, despite what my doctors said, I actually ran the 1990 London Marathon in 2 hours and 58 minutes, on behalf of Arthritis Research, and a half-marathon in one hour and 12 minutes. I am currently a member of Petts Wood Runners. I help to organise our annual 10k race that raises funds for St Christopher's, our local hospice, and I also hold regular St Christopher's Open Garden afternoon tea fundraisers at my own home.
It's clearly fundraising time again, but this time it will be very different - and here's how! I am the proud custodian of three classic Lambretta scooters; a 1966 SX200, a 1971 GP200 and a 2016 LP26.2 – for those of you wondering about that last one, it's a leg-powered polystyrene scooter, specially built for me by Odd Mod Squad members 'Vinyl' Dave Garrett and Les Bee. The reason?
I am combining my two passions, running and scooters, and will be running inside my 2016 LP26.2 at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 9 April to raise funds for two very special charities – Demelza Children's Hospice and Teenage Cancer Trust. I will also be running in the London Marathon just 2 weeks later on Sunday 23 April.
My own first attempt at designing a 'marathon scooter' was to cover my GP200 in tin foil then make a paper mache shell and use salvaged copper piping as a supportive frame. This was a disaster. Dave and Les from my scooter club stepped in to help me and used salvaged cardboard, polystyrene, a plastic waste pipe, aluminium and wheels from an abandoned pushchair. The final design looks fantastic and it even has working front and rear lights. The scooter weighs 12 kilos. The only problem is that it’s too short for my running stride so I’ve been working hard to adjust my stride while out training inside my customised marathon scooter. I’ve certainly seen a few double-takes and raised some eyebrows in my local area!
My normal stride length is 1m 36cm but the space inside the scooter is 97cm. I have managed to adjust my stride to 90cm so this works out at 162 metres per minute using 180 steps. The length of a marathon is 26 miles and 385 yards or 42,195 metres - so a perfect non-stop run over a marathon distance would take me around four and a half hours."