Spalding market furniture stallholder in marathon run inspired by sister’s breast cancer fight

Spalding market stallholder Ian Johnson is running a marathon for his chosen charity, Breast Cancer Now.
Spalding market stallholder Ian Johnson is running a marathon for his chosen charity, Breast Cancer Now.

Spinal and cartilage surgery should have put Spalding market furniture stallholder Ian Johnson out of the running for a marathon.

But he’s in serious training to spend his 54th birthday on April 17 taking part in a road run through the fens of South Lincolnshire in the new Boston Marathon.

Ian, from Swineshead, began raising money for the charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer in 1999 after losing a cousin to the disease.

His fundraising received a fresh impetus when his youngest sister, Joanne Wilkins (44), was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014.

Ian said: “Joanne has undergone surgery, endured six months of chemotherapy, plus three weeks of radiotherapy, at Lincoln County Hospital.

“Despite this intensive and aggressive treatment she still required a double mastectomy.”

Joanne is battling through with the same fighting spirit she showed as a premature baby weighing just 3lbs.

“The local priest christened Joanne in her incubator as she was not expected to survive,” said Ian. “She did survive and continues to battle her way through life whatever the challenges.”

Ian knows he will have aches and pains when he runs but he’s prepared to put up with them because the cash he raises will make a difference to someone’s life.

“I hope to survive it as opposed to running it competitively,” said Ian, who did a three-hour training run on Sunday. “I shouldn’t actually be running at all. All I am doing is absorbing pain for longer on these runs. There’s no enjoyment in it whatsoever and even the scenery isn’t a distraction. The reward comes from the knowledge that whatever money you raise makes a difference to somebody’s life.”

When aged 25, Ian ran the London Marathon in 1988, completing the distance in 3hrs 23mins, and has also run a couple of Boston-Skegness Seabank Marathons.

He hopes for a sub four-hour run around South Lincolnshire, but the main goal is achieving his £1,000 fundraising target for his charity, renamed Breast Cancer Now.

Ian’s most recent events for the charity were a Tour de France 120-mile bike ride and doing an equivalent Mount Everest climb by going up the steps of Boston Stump 200 times (29.035ft).

• Donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ian-johnson44