Sudbury pair set for town marathon

AFTER months of training, a pair of unlikely athletes say they are ready to complete a marathon in memory of a Sudbury man, whose life was cut short by cancer, writes Neil Bracegirdle.

Ashley Watts and Jon Hamblin, both 27, will be running 26.2 miles on Sunday to raise money for the Willow Foundation – a charity that helps seriously ill people aged between 16 and 40.

In recent years, the charity has received strong support from LeeStock, a festival set up following the death of Lee Dunford, 21, in 2006, after a four-year battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Ashley and Jon both went to school with Lee and have already raised £2,500 for the foundation ahead of taking on their self-styled course, which runs from Sudbury to Long Melford and back three times.

Jon said the pair were hoping to raise £3,000 and he was looking forward to taking on the course.

“I’ve been inspired by the London Marathon and also by John Bishop’s famous ‘week of hell’ for Sport Relief,” said Jon, from Sudbury.

“If Bishop was out the night before and managed to cycle from Paris to Calais, row the Channel and then run three consecutive marathons, I reckon I can do this.

“People keep asking me if I’m nervous, but it doesn’t phase me at all. Everybody knows why we are doing it and I’m excited.”

The run will start at midday on Sunday at Mwah gym in Milner Road and will finish in the late afternoon at the White Horse in North Street.

Ashley, who also lives in Sudbury, said he had been surprised by how rewarding he had found the training.

“I’m looking forward to crossing the finishing line and seeing how much money we’ve raised,” he said. “But I’ve enjoyed running and will definitely continue with it, but maybe give myself a week off first.”

q To donate to Ashley and Jon’s marathon effort, text RFLS84 followed by the amount to 70070, or for more information visit