Brave nurse conquers Coronavirus to complete first Raceways half marathon and raise money for Marathon Kids

Just three and a half months after being diagnosed with Coronavirus, a courageous nurse from Warwick has defied the odds and completed her first half marathon, following a miraculous recovery from the deadly pandemic.

Asthma-suffering Lindsay Clarkson wants to encourage others to ramp up their own exercise regimes, as the government has set out its strategy of improving the physical and mental wellbeing of the nation following the lockdown period.

The 50-year-old was one of the estimated 310,000 people in the UK who was hit hard by the virus at its peak, but is now the proud owner of a Leamington Spa Half Marathon medal, after completing the virtual event that Raceways organised following the enforced cancellation of the actual race on July 5.

Raceways is a Community Interest Company which was set up to help Marathon Kids, our free running programme for primary school children. Raceways hosts three adult races each year – the Alcester 10km, The Royal Leamington Spa Half Marathon and the Warwick Reindeer Run – and all the money raised will go into Marathon Kids.

Lindsay was one of the thousands of healthcare professionals who found themselves on the front line as Covid-19 ripped through the country, unselfishly caring for the worst-affected in hospitals up and down the land, seeing first-hand the dreadful consequences for those who contracted it.

‘I was diagnosed on April 1, it was incredibly scary, and I had six weeks of isolating at home. I had no energy, I couldn’t really move and whenever I tried to do too much I found myself completely out of breath. It was horrible, but having worked in hospital earlier during the pandemic I do realise that it could have been so much more serious,’ said the Mum-of-two.

Naturally, exercise was very much off the agenda, but as the symptoms eased over a month Lindsay started to take steps back into the world of running. Quite literally, in fact, by plodding relentlessly up and down her garden path, inching her way back to fitness.

‘I’d been training for the Leamington Spa Half Marathon after a friend challenged me to do it this year, to coincide with me turning 50. I think you need challenges in life, and although the cancellation of the race in July was inevitable, I was delighted to see an email from Raceways saying we could complete the race virtually. That really spurred me on to get back out there as soon as possible, and starting out on the garden path was the easiest way to do it,’ she added.

Lindsay achieved what was a landmark two miles in the middle of May, and then added a mile to her sessions gradually every week, building up to seven mile runs three times every seven days as she headed towards the 13.1-mile race distance.

She eventually completed her first ever half marathon on July 22, recording a time of 2 hours 45 minutes around a route that took in the beautiful Warwickshire countryside.

‘It was a great feeling to be able to contact the team at Raceways and tell them that I’d done it! I wasn’t a runner at school, and I only really started to run in the last couple of years alongside my gym routine. But I am hardly an athlete. Running, especially outside, gives me an escapism – it sounds simple, but running lets me connect back to nature, enjoy the flowers, hear the bees buzzing and generally enjoy the weather, especially if it’s warm,’ she said.

‘I knew I could do it, although the progress at the start was so slow. It was like going back to the beginning, starting all over again. But you have to enjoy it, and look for ways to do that. For me, that was taking in the wildlife, or putting on my headphones and getting a bit of Basement Jaxx or Stereophonics on to motivate me. I’d also order new shoes, or socks, from Warwick Sports on Swan St, and then go out and test them on my training runs. Small things, but they all helped,’ she said.

‘I’d really love people to go out and do what I did, to really start to look after their physical and mental health. Running certainly helps me do that, and if I can do it – a 50-year-old, Asthma sufferer – then lots of people can do it too,’ she concluded.

Christopher McShane, who heads Raceways, said Lindsay’s story really highlights what the running community is all about.

‘Lindsay was a real inspiration to the Raceways community and her strong resolve is just what we all need to keep fit and healthy during Covid-19, and in the aftermath as the country gets back on its feet hopefully as quickly as possible,’ he added.

INFORMATION: A limited number of places are still available at Raceways’ three events being held later this year. The Alcester 10km takes place on October 4 with the Leamington Spa Half Marathon going ‘On Tour’ at Warwick Racecourse on October 18. The final race will be the Reindeer Run on November 29, and athletes can compete in all three for £65. For more details visit www.raceways.org.uk

LEGAL STUFF

Marathon Kids in the UK is a programme of Kids Run Free.
 
Kids Run Free is a charity registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales (1146636) and a registered Company Limited by Guarantee, England and Wales (07465668).
 
Registered office: Kensall Cottages, Stratford Road, Oversley Green, Alcester, Warwickshire, B49 6PH.
 
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