Marathon motivation is all that matters

As one of the world’s best known marathons fast approaches, three runners are facing the prospect of the 26.2-mile challenge from different perspectives.

Marie Shirley of Sudbury, Chris Benham of Great Cornard and Stuart Prestney of Wakes Colne will all be lining up for the London marathon in less than two weeks’ time.

Marie will be taking part in her eighth marathon – her fifth in the UK’s capital – while both Chris and Stuart will be pushing their aching limbs around the course for the first time.

The trio aim to complete the distance to raise money for causes close to their hearts.

Marie, who lives in Melford Road, is running for St Nicholas Hospice in recognition of the care they provided to her friend Jan Wait as she battled cancer. Mrs Wait worked as a learning mentor at Great Cornard Upper School before she died aged 53 in May.

“Jan was a family friend who I had known for years and, as it is coming up to the first anniversary of her death I thought it would be nice to do something for a charity that means a lot to her family and friends,” said Marie, 33.

“I normally do two marathons a year and I love the atmosphere in London.

“The weather hasn’t helped training but it is the calm before the storm now and it all about eating right in these last few weeks.”

Marie, a member of Colchester Harriers running club, has set herself a finish time of under three hours.

Meanwhile Chris, 44, who manages Cornard Dynamos under 10s football team in his spare time, says he just wants to get round in one piece.

“Last year I had to drop out eight weeks before as I pulled my groin,” said Chris, of Pot Kiln Road, who is running to raise money for the Children With Cancer charity.

“I have always admired people who do the marathon, and seeing 20 boys two or three times a week motivates me to help a charity which looks after youngsters like them.

“Some of the kids think I’m stupid to do the marathon, but they know it is for a worthwhile cause.”

Stuart, of Upper Green, is running for the Sick Children’s Trust after his godson was recently struck down by serious illness.

“My godson Evan George was diagnosed with a kidney tumour last March and the trust provided his family with free accommodation during his treatment,” said the 39-year-old.

“As they rely solely on charitable donations, I feel that is important to give something back.”

The Virgin London Marathon is on Sunday. April 21.

To sponsor Marie, visit

To sponsor Chris, go to topher-Benham. Donate to Stuart’s cause by visiting ney2.