Shara’s first marathon in dad’s memory

Shara Jones pictured at the Peterborough half-marathon in October.
Shara Jones pictured at the Peterborough half-marathon in October.
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A mum of two is taking on the London Marathon on Sunday in memory of her dad who died from heart problems when she was just 23.

Shara Jones (29) will be raising money for Heart Research UK after her father, Les Cook, died aged 63 in 2008 from heart failure after undergoing a heart transplant operation in 2000.

I want to sneak in under four hours – that’s my target – and hopefully the weather will be kind to me and my feet will be kind to me and won’t give me too many blisters

Runner Shara Jones

Shara, from Whaplode, said: “I really want to raise awareness about heart disease and what happened to my dad. It’s important to share the importance of health, whether it’s through fitness or healthy diets. Running the marathon is both great for my health and a way to support Heart Research UK.”

This will be Shara’s first -ever marathon, although she completed Peterborough’s half-marathon in 1hr 41min last October and a half-marathon in Milton Keynes last month in 1hr 45min.

“Milton Keynes was a very hilly course and it was a very windy day,” said Shara. “For the London Marathon I want to sneak in under four hours – that’s my target – and hopefully the weather will be kind to me and my feet will be kind to me and won’t give me too many blisters.”

Les Cook, who lived in Algarkirk, had his heart transplant at Papworth Hospital after being diagnosed with such severe heart disease that a transplant was the only possible option.

He managed to live a near normal life until he became ill again in September 2008 and sadly died the following month.

It was a tough time for Shara as 24 days before her dad died she had given birth to her daughter Rhian – although, fortunately, Les got to hold his first grandchild.

Shara has been running all of her life and kept on through her pregnancies with Rhian, now six, and Roman, who is now two.

With Roman, Shara kept on running past her due date – and he was 12 days overdue.

“They advise you not to stop running if you are used to running and I was back running again when he was two-weeks-old,” said Shara.

She’s been running 40 hours a week to prepare for the marathon, but is resting this week and says: “I don’t know what to do with myself.”

Although London is a first for Shara, her sister Keelie has run the race twice before.

Shara is married to Gareth and she works as an avocado technical manager with Greencell.

• People can donate to Shara’s fundraising page for Heart Research UK by visiting http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/sharajones

More than two million people in the UK are living with heart disease.