Sixty-two-year-old runs first marathon in husband’s memory

When 62-year-old Judith Howarth crossed the finish line of the London Marathon, it was the culmination of a long journey. Far longer than the 26.2 miles of the course, or even the long months of training. Her real journey began when her husband Mark died at St Barnabas House at the age of only 54.

Judith and Mark met at a mutual friend’s party as teenagers and by the time he died they had been married almost 33 years. “I’d never lived on my own,” says Judith. “I was in my 50s, but I had to grow up and become an adult.”

Running was an important part of that journey. “Five years ago, I started running with the Foxy Ladies Running Club,” says Judith. “Initially, I said I’m never going to run any more than 5k – then I did a 10k. Two years ago, I decided I wanted to do a half marathon.” With her friend Lin, Judith went on to do many half-marathons, from Benidorm to the New Forest.

With Lin’s 65th birthday approaching this year, they applied for charity places for the London Marathon and the friends have done all their training together, along with lots of other Foxy Ladies who have joined them on their journey.

Judith had a fundraising goal of £5,000 and has been so dedicated in her efforts that she even sold a beloved car to boost her total. “My husband bought it for me for my birthday. I absolutely loved my MX5, but I always said that when it no longer made me smile, I would sell it. Last summer it just didn’t make me smile anymore. It just felt very low – and there’s so many potholes. The money I got for it went in the pot.”

The two women also staged events including a quiz night at Worthing Bowling Club and a Christmas coffee morning, and with so much work and training behind them, Judith says the best feeling on the day was “Just being there with Lin and getting to the end. I won’t do another marathon, but I can say I’ve done London – it’s an amazing achievement.

“Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole 26.2 miles. It was like one big street party, with steel bands, DJs, morris dancers and children giving out sweets.

“The best bit was seeing my family, my friends and Foxy Ladies around the route for snacks, hugs and so much love. They always popped up just when you needed them.

“Lin and I stayed together the whole way around and supported each other. Crossing the finish line was so emotional, we found it unbelievable that we had just run a marathon. Even now, I am still asking myself if I really did that. But the medal – and the aches and pains – prove that I did!”

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