If you see a woman pounding the streets of Gedney, Holbeach Bank, Saracen’s Head and Whaplode, it’s more than likely to be mother-of-three Jill Gray (46).
In ten weeks’ time, Jill will be resting her sore calves and hamstrings after running 26.2 miles at the 36th London Marathon on Sunday, April 24.
I thought I’d give the London Marathon a try for a local charity and one that would make me go out and run even when the weather was badJill Gray (46) of Whaplode
Jill, who will be cheered on by her husband Simon and children Jasmin, Ellie and Sam, is hoping to raise at least £200 for Stamford-based charity Anna’s Hope which supports children and young people with brain tumours and their families in Lincolnshire and eastern England.
“I’ve been running for about ten years, doing half-marathons for a little while, and so I thought I’d give the London Marathon a try,” Jill said.
“In the past, I’ve run for charities such Help for Heroes and Make a Wish Foundation, but this time I wanted to do it for a local charity and one that would make me go out and run - even when the weather was bad.
“I was in Sainsbury’s, Spalding, at Christmas time and there were posters about Anna’s Hope which is a fantastic charity and one that I think is very special.”
Jill’s current training regime includes a five-mile run every night after work, then a 15 to 20-mile run at weekends with her husband and son or pet dog Alfie.
“I started running because my husband was heavily into it while serving in the Armed Forces and we thought it would be nice to do something together,” Jill said.
“Simon and Sam have been giving me lots of advice of the marathon, but Alfie has been my best running partner so far.
“I looking to do the London Marathon in about five hours and I’m giving it everything in training for it.”
As well as shattering her fundraising target for Anna’s Hope, Jill could achieve an even more prestigious landmark when she lines up in Blackheath alongside a stellar list of star athletes and guest runners, one of whom will become the millionth finisher in the race’s 35-year history.
Also lining up for this year’s race are double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes, who will be Jill’s age on race day, actress Natalie Dormer (The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones), TV and radio presenter Chris Evans and astronaut Tim Peake who will be the first man to run a marathon in space.
Jill said: “I’m really excited and although I’m a little bit nervous at the moment, I’m looking forward to it.
“It’ll be really good fun because all my family are coming and my friends at work are sponsoring me as well.”
Meanwhile, Jasmin (21), a journalism student in London who had a work experience placement with the Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian, said: ““We are all really proud of Mum because she has worked really hard to get to this point with her running.
“She’s always thinking of other people, so it’s hardly surprising that she’s chosen to do this.
“We can’t wait to see her cross the finish line in April.”
Carole Hughes, co-founder of Anna’s Hope named after her three-year-old daughter who died in May 2006, said: “My husband Rob and I were delighted when Jill contacted us to let us know that she had got a place in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon and wanted to run for Anna’s Hope.
“Every penny she raises will go towards helping children in the region with a brain tumour and over the last 18 months, we have helped make a difference to the lives of 150 children.
“Rob and I would like to thank Jill for choosing Anna’s Hope and we wish her every success, both in the run and with her fundraising.”
To sponsor Jill, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JillGray