ALMOST 20 members of Widnes Wasps Ladies Running Club are currently training for spring marathons in April or May, many of them raising large sums of money for charity.

First to tackle the 26.2 mile distance in Manchester, this Sunday, April 2, will be Helen Moore, Agata Rutkowska, Michele Lindsay, Helen Davies and Nicola Daley.

Helen Moore, 49, from Rainhill, is running the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon to support the Dwarf Sports Association for a team GB kit when they compete at the World Dwarf Games in Canada this August. Gift Aid included she’s already exceeded her £600 target.

“It’s my first full marathon and I’m a bit apprehensive about running but I’ve had the other girls as my support team in training and I’m sure they’ll help me to cross the finish line,” she said.

It’s a cause close to Helen’s heart as her daughter Samantha, aged 12, was born with Achondroplasia, the commonest form of dwarfism.

“A chance meeting whilst I was running introduced me to the Dwarf Sports Association and Samantha now competes in swimming and track and field events,” Helen explained.

“Samantha loves competing (swimmer Ellie Simmonds is a friend) and she has not let her short stature hold her back.”

Nicola Daley, 49, from Prescot, has joined forces with Helen to help raise funds for the Dwarf Sports Association.

Next up on April 9 will be Emma Buckley, Sandra Bentley and Hayley MacGugan, all from Runcorn, who are travelling to the south coast to tackle the Brighton Marathon. For Sandra it’s her ninth marathon in three years – and she’ll subsequently complete a tenth in Liverpool in May. She said: “I chose Brighton because it’s one I haven’t done. Training is going well.”

On April 23, it’s the ever popular Virgin London Marathon, where Widnes Wasps will have five members taking part this year. Among them is Beth Andrews, 29, from Widnes, also competing in her first marathon and running with husband Chris to raise funds for Cardiac Risk in the Young.

“They supported me when I had my heart condition and needed an operation in January 2016 and had to defer my marathon place until this year,” Beth explained.

“Our target was £1,900 and so far we’ve raised £2,577. Training is going great and we’re up to 21 miles.”

Lining up alongside her in London will be Widnes Wasps’ club secretary Julie Moses, 51, from Rainhill, who earned her place after achieving a ‘good for age’ time at last year’s Manchester Marathon, where she finished in a very creditable 3:51:26.

Meanwhile, Helen Beckett, from Burtonwood, is running her fifth marathon – and second London – while Sarah Seddon, from Widnes, and Kate Critchley are both making their marathon debuts. Kate, 46 and also from Widnes, was the lucky ‘winner’ of the London Marathon club place that Widnes Wasps are awarded each year by UK Athletics.

Kate said: “I’m so excited and very proud and privileged to be representing Widnes Wasps! It’s my first marathon and the Trimpell 20 in Lancaster a couple of weeks ago was my longest distance to date. Up until a year ago, I'd never run further than a 5k parkrun and only ran once a week at most.

“I've set up a Just Giving page for Cancer Research as I lost my dad three years ago after a three-month battle with a very aggressive brain tumour. He never liked running and thought exercise was a waste of time, but I'm sure he'd be secretly quite proud that I was part of a club that has been running, quite literally, for 30 years!”

Later marathons include the Brathay Marathon in Windermere on May 21, in which Rachel Kuypers, Joanne Moyers and Lynsay Adair will compete, and the Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon on May 28, which will see Wasps Carolyn Rigby, Stacey Clark and Vicky Ferguson in its line-up.

Widnes Wasps celebrates its 30th anniversary in June this year, having been established in 1987 by a group of eight women who began running in Victoria Park, Widnes.

The club now has 60+ members and meets Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Birchfield Road Sports & Social Club, in Widnes. Not all of them run marathons – races entered range from 5k to long-distance ultra marathons, but many simply run for fun.

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