Mums Complete London Marathon To Raise Funds For A Shaftesbury School

Two Shaftesbury mums have completed the London Marathon and raised almost £2,000 for Abbey Primary School.

ThisIsAlfred spoke with Sarah Junor and Emma Partridge, both experienced marathon runners, about their efforts to raise funds for a special project at the school.

Abbey Primary parents, staff and children want to create a sensory garden. “In what they call ‘The Stomping Ground’, they’ve got a new piece of land that they bought. And they’ve made it into a really cool outdoor play area and decided that a part of it would be given up to the sensory garden,” said parent, Sarah Junor.

“Some of the children just don’t want to play loud, boisterous, noisy games. They want to go and do something a little bit more mindful – a little bit quieter. So it will have plants that you can get different experiences from touching, feeling and smelling. It will offer a different experience at playtime.”

Abbey School

The money raised from the marathon and other fundraising activities underway won’t all go towards this new green space. “I think new library books are being saved for as well,” added Emma Partridge.

While many PTA’s will host coffee mornings and cake sales, you could argue that two mums taking on a 26-mile fitness challenge has raised the bar with fundraising. “I love running and if I can do something useful with it, it helps too,” said Emma. “We are both keen runners and enjoy our fitness, but the fact that we’ve both got children in the same year and they’ve taken part in the same year of the marathon is quite a coincidence. I guess it’s nice to feel that we’re doing it together, even though we don’t run together.”

Emma Partridge

Emma and Sarah didn’t find the task daunting. “This is the third time I’ve done London, but I’ve also run the North Dorset village marathon twice. So it will be my fifth marathon in consecutive years now. I’ve tried to do a marathon each year, for the last five years,” said Emma.

Sarah ran her first London Marathon to mark a special birthday. “I did it in 1997, because it was my 30th year. Then I ran two years later when I was 32. This year I’m 52, so it is exactly 20 years since that last couple of marathons, and I did it three years ago. So I feel like I’ve had this 20-year gap between two batches. I’m not going to leave it 20 years to do it again!” Sarah said.

She’s pleased with her time. “I didn’t have any agenda about time. I’d completely parked my ego. I ended up running in 3 hours 50 minutes, so I had a fantastic run,” said Sarah.

Over the years, Sarah has been fairly consistent in her finishing time. “It’s funny, because the very first one I did was 3.55. And then in New York 18 months ago, I ran a 3.57, but that’s because I had a bereavement and lost my mum and I wasn’t in a very good place. So I’ve always been a ‘sub four’ – somewhere between 3.40 and four hours. I did run a 3.33 when I was 32, but there was no timing chip in those days, so there’s no record of that. I don’t consider that to be my personal best.”

Emma completed the 26-mile circuit in 3 hours 44 minutes. “Even though I run all year round, it takes a good three months or more of concentrated training to be able to complete the marathon course. It’s always a challenge for various reasons when the actual time of the event comes round, particularly if you set off too quickly at the beginning, which I did this time. You certainly feel the last few miles but the crowds along the way at London are just incredible. It keeps you going and makes the whole thing enjoyable and more doable, I would say,” said Emma.

Clients of The Trinity Practice, the osteopath business that Emma operates with her husband, have sponsored her. “Hopefully I’ll be approaching £500. People have been so generous and enthusiastic about taking part. When they hear that it’s for Abbey Primary School they are very happy to contribute money, which has been fantastic.”

Sarah Junor with daughter Beatrice

When that amount is added to Sarah’s sponsorship, the women will have generated around £2,000 for the school. “I’m feeling really good about my fundraising, which I’ve now topped out at around £1,500. I am really pleased about that,” said Sarah.

Sarah says that the use of technology in the marathon helped her feel connected to the school community back home in Shaftesbury. “I just felt like I had all these people I was running for. And it’s an amazing feeling when you’re running, knowing that people are tracking you, or thinking about you. Every time you run over a 5km matt, they get an update on the tracker on the London Marathon app that shows how you’re doing. So you have this sense that when you’re running over the matt, all of these people are excited for you and rooting for you. It’s amazing how that gives you a real energy and a real buzz,” said Sarah.

And the app helped Sarah’s family find her and cheer her on from the side of the route. “People get a vague idea of where you are. So my older daughter found me at mile 21, because she could roughly work out what time she thought I’d be going past a certain point.”

It looks likely that the school will achieve its sensory garden target because of the women’s marathon run and some additional events, which ThisIsAlfred will talk about next week. And for 2020, there might be another chance to sponsor Sarah in the London Marathon.

“I’ve ended up qualifying in the ‘Good for Age’ category again. I thought I would lose that qualifying time. So if I want to do it next year, I can. Next year is the 40th anniversary of it, so I think it’d be quite special,” Sarah said.

Shaftesbury Barber Geoff Coward also ran the London Marathon with friends to raise money for the ‘Children With Cancer’ charity, because it has supported his friends, Natalie and Simon, and their 8-year old daughter Torri. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

Geoff Coward completed the London Marathon in 5 hours 1 minute. Lee Discombe finished in 5 hours 17 minutes and Steve Pritchard came in after 4 hours and 41 minutes. “We have raised over £40,000 between us,” said Geoff. We will hear more from the men next week.