Local Women Have A Ball For The Big Apple

In the lead up to running the New York Marathon for charity

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Five Chiswick friends have signed up to run the New York Marathon this November to raise money for Barnados and The Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

To raise money for the two charities they are running for, they have organised The Big Apple Ball on Saturday 29th September to be held at Dukes Meadows Golf Club.

Raising funds for these good causes has been a goal for such a long time - and each of them finds motivation in that ‘extra mile’ for their own personal reasons. Here is the story so far…


I have never been the athletic type. Even when I was little, growing up in the states, I was always one of the last ones picked for a sports team. My body has never been sleek or sinewy. Going up more than one flight of stairs has always left me huffing and puffing like an old locomotive.

Over the years, I’ve watched many of my friends run marathons and have always thought it safer to live the athlete’s life vicariously through them. After all, who wanted to sit around obsessing about strategy and socks that don’t blister all the time? But then something happened — my husband threw down the gauntlet.

One June day, just a few years back, my sister-in-law happened to remark — after a couple of glasses of wine — that it would be loads of fun for us to train together for the New York Marathon in November. Without hesitation, my husband laughed and said “yeah, right… like Shelley could ever run a marathon.” And that was it. Those were the only words I needed to hear. I decided I had to do the marathon if for no other reason than to prove him wrong.

At the time, everyone insisted that there was “nothing to it but to do it.” And so I started running. First to the end of my street — and then around the block — and then a few miles — and then a few miles more. But I never completed any really long runs. I remember someone telling me that “if you can run 16 miles you’ll be fine. The crowds and the adrenalin will carry you the rest of the way.” Boy, were they wrong.

I did complete the marathon that year but my time wasn’t anything to brag about. I didn’t finish last. But I certainly didn’t finish with a respectable time either. Even an amputee on crutches whizzed by me. Afterwards, I made a joke of it. What was my time? Impertinent question! Thoughts of times and rankings are just so conventional, don’t you think?

But now I’m going to try it again. After three children, I figure this may be my last chance to at least pretend I’m something of an athlete. And I’m still desperate to prove my husband wrong.


I’ve been running regularly since my early twenties. I used to work for an ad agency very close to Hyde Park and my first run was from the building I worked in to a tree about a 100 yards away. I soon progressed from the tree to running around the Serpentine and then the full circuit of Hyde Park. I ran in my lunch break (luckily we had showers at work). I did this to try and counter balance my life style. Advertising in the 90’s was fast! We all had very long lunches - ate & drank far too much. So a couple of runs a week kept me away from the company bar.

As soon as I became pregnant with my first child I purchased a running buggy (back then I was one of the first to be seen out running with a baby being bounced along in a strange three wheel mountain buggy!).

Since then I’ve run approx. 30 half-marathons (I haven’t counted my medals recently) and 1 marathon. I ran the London Marathon back in 1993 and said never again! But like childbirth you forget the pain. I always said if I ran another marathon then the New York would be the one to do. Apparently, over half the 30,000 runners who do the NY marathon are 40 years old or over - I turned 40 this year!


If I had thought two years ago that I would be entering a marathon, I would have thought I was completely crazy! At school I was a sprinter, regularly running 100m and 200m races. To have a go at 400m was a real effort, I would completely run out of steam by 300m (probably because I was still sprinting) but I just knew that jogging wasn’t my thing and that it never would be.

However, about 2 years ago, my jogging-mad friend Sarah (above) somehow managed (after a few drinks) to talk me into having a go at running with the goal of a 10km run at Legoland. It seemed like a ridiculous idea but, with the incentive of free entry to the park afterwards (to enjoy with hubby and children) I decided to give it a go. So, after 2 short runs to the river and back in preparation I headed to Legoland with Sarah and Shelley for the ultimate humiliation. All I remember thinking, when I looked around at the hundreds of serious competitors warming up and stretching, was that I didn’t want to be the first person to quit in the first kilometre . . . . so what a relief when I saw an old man pull off to the side! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the 1km sign, followed by 2km and it was when I saw the 6km sign, I realised that I actually had a chance of finishing this run and did so in 1hr 10 mins. It was the most amazing sense of self-achievement I’d had in a long time, even if my family didn’t quite share my enthusiasm when they greeted me at the end . . . husband complaining about the Windsor traffic and boys arguing about which ride they were going to go on first. Anyway, for me, after 9 years of being ‘just mum’ it was an exhilarating feeling and I wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from me.

Since then, I have been running regularly with Sarah, Shelley and Anna. Whether I am capable of running 26.2 miles I have no idea . . . at the moment it seems way beyond my capabilities but, if I can stick to the strict training programme we have started, I do believe it should be achievable. With turning 40 next year and entering back into the ‘working world’ it will be a real confidence booster. The biggest challenge I’m not looking forward to though is restraining my alcohol intake in the build-up to the marathon . . . three boys and no alcohol just don’t go together!

September 3, 2007