Claire Greenwood joins women from across the country for RunHer in an effort to raise cash for the Children's Heartbeat Trust
Published 23/05/2013 | 04:20
Twice a year, more than 1,000 women gather to take part in an event that has become a fixture on the Northern Ireland calender. This is not just an athletic event, this is a chance for women of all ages and abilities to gather together for a personal challenge and experience some of Northern Ireland's most breathtaking scenery.
Many will be running to get fit, many will be walking to get out of the house. The majority taking part will be hoping to raise funds for a cause very close to their own hearts. We talk to two competitors to hear their personal reasons for taking part.
Claire Greenwood (37) is an electronics engineer and lives in Belfast with her husband Ken and their daughters Rebecca (4) and Daisy (17 months).
She says: "Daisy was born at the beginning of December 2011 and everything was fine.
"We had her home and she was alert and pink. She did have a bit of a cough but her little sister Rebecca had the cold and it was the middle of winter so I didn't think that much of it.
"The midwife came to visit when she was 10 days old and said she was concerned about Daisy's breathing and sent us off to the GP. The GP was a bit concerned too, and thought it was a good idea to send us to A&E. I drove to the Royal and Ken met us there. By the time we arrived at the hospital Daisy's skin had gone from pink to a mottled purple.
"Once there, Daisy was whisked away into resuscitation. In the space of three hours she went from the midwife being concerned about her to being on life support. It turned out she had a blockage of her aorta that was stopping her heart from pumping blood into the lower half of her body.
"Daisy had surgery to correct the problem two days later. It was in Dublin as it was December 21 and there wasn't enough post-operative cover in Belfast over Christmas. We came back to Belfast on Christmas Eve although Daisy went straight to the Royal – but it meant we could be with both her and Rebecca over Christmas.
"Daisy was discharged on December 30. She needs to be closely monitored for the rest of her life to check that scar tissue doesn't block her aorta again. She'll also need to consult a cardiologist when she decides to have a child herself.
"We were worried sick when Daisy was taken to hospital but I know there are many children out there with much worse problems, so in a way we've been quite lucky.
"I'm taking part in RunHer for the Children's Heartbeat Trust. It's a charity that provides support to families of children with congenital heart defects in Northern Ireland.
"They're also campaigning to keep children's heart surgery in Belfast instead of transferring it down to Dublin. The charity helps families who have sick children with their children who aren't sick. Thanks to our large and helpful family we didn't need them, but others without that support network certainly will.
"I only started running in February when I heard about RunHer. I decided to set myself the challenge so I could get fit and earn money for the charity. I'm not doing too badly – I can run 8K so Friday shouldn't be too bad."
Jillian Campbell (35) works for Tesco and lives in Newtownards with her husband David and their children Scott (10) and Melissa (6).
She says: "I started running in August last year. I'd never done any exercise before but my husband said I needed to get out there and take part. My granny died on May 24 last year so I felt that RunHer was a great challenge for me to talk part in. Granny was diagnosed with throat cancer two years ago but she was given the all clear. Less than six months later we discovered the cancer had spread to her brain and lungs too.
"My mum nursed my granny while she was ill. It was terrible watching her illness, but what was also terrible was watching my mum lose her mum. I tried to be strong for both her and my sister, but it was a very difficult time.
"After granny died I wouldn't leave the house because I couldn't get her off my mind. That's when David suggested I get out running.
"I just put my trainers on and started doing laps of nearby Londonderry Park, but the first time I couldn't even do one.
"I found though that the more I went out the more I could do – I just kept getting stronger and stronger.
"My granny wasn't the only person in our family with cancer.
"I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on my leg two years ago. It was a mole that just kept changing and eventually it was removed by the hospital.
"Apparently it's one of the rarest kinds of melanoma you can get and there isn't any treatment for it. For the next year I was regularly checked over by doctors, but now I've been discharged.
"However, I need to pay very close attention to my body in case there are any new moles or freckles and I have to wear factor 50 sun protection every single day. There will be no more sunny holidays for us; instead we will go to theme parks in England.
"When I saw that RunHer was on my granny's anniversary I signed up for it straight away.
"I wasn't sure I could do 10k, but now I'm determined to finish it as I want to raise £100 for Cancer Research UK."
Put your best foot foward for charity
• The Belfast Telegraph RunHer 10K Coastal Challenge will begin tomorrow at 7pm at Seapark, Hollywood.
• Online registration has now closed; however, potential RunHers can still sign up at the Pure Running store (60-62 Wellington Place) or tomorrow at Seapark up until 6pm.
• Everyone taking part in RunHer will receive a goody bag on registration: this includes an exclusive Belfast Telegraph RunHer t-shirt, Zero Hydration tablets, a Hi 5 caramel sports bar and Forest Feast Pistachios, among other treats.
• Cool FM will be on hand at the finish line in Crawfordsburn Country Park to provide commentary and entertainment – and of course there will be water and bananas for the finishers.