Angmering man’s musical marathon is tribute to his late wife

Choosing the right soundtrack is a vital part of marathon planning. But for Angmering man Andy Stadden, it’s not simply a case of choosing the right songs – he’ll be performing them too.

For the second time Andy, 61, will be running Brighton Marathon with his guitar on his back – and stopping at every mile marker to sing a song.

It’s all good, madcap fun – but Andy has a special reason for running. He’s raising money for St Barnabas House in Worthing, which made it possible for him to care for his beloved wife Julie at home in her final days.

Like Andy, Julie was a keen runner – they met at Arunners running club – and she ran Brighton Marathon in 2017 and 2018. “I will be retracing her footsteps along the way,” says Andy, who joined the club when he stopped playing football. “In 2013, I wrote the club newsletter and I happened to ask Julie to write a race report,” he says. “We got together the following Christmas and were married in February 2018. But a few months later, in August, she started having seizures. We found out it was terminal brain cancer and she died on 31 May 2019.”

Andy came up with his musical marathon idea in the early days of his relationship with Julie: “I was doing a lot of open mic nights and Julie liked to come along to see everyone. It was at one of those nights that I first mentioned it, and it came back into my head when I was thinking of raising some money for St Barnabas.

“Everything to do with Julie was always lots of fun,” he says. “She had a group of friends at the running club who called themselves Team Tortoise! She was so friendly, loving and interested in things. I’ve never met anyone like her, really.”

Andy is an accomplished runner and came second in his age group in last year’s Sussex Grand Prix. It’s just as well, because performing 26 songs does slow down his marathon time. “When I last did it, in 2021, it took me just over six hours,” he says. “It was quite funny for some of the runners because I was stopping and playing a song, then overtaking them before stopping to play another. So, the same people would see it seven or eight times. Some of them ended up joining in – it’s all very good-natured.

“One thing I need to be careful of is not beating Julie’s time. She ran Brighton Marathon in five hours 45 minutes. If I’d have beaten her marathon time while playing all those songs as well, she’d have been very annoyed.”