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Natalie going extra mile for NHS by running a marathon in her parents' back garden


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Natalie Bowbanks, who is going to run the London Marathon in her parents’ back garden

Natalie Bowbanks, who is going to run the London Marathon in her parents’ back garden

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Natalie Bowbanks in training

Natalie Bowbanks in training

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Natalie Bowbanks, who is going to run the London Marathon in her parents’ back garden

A runner will be taking on the entire 26-mile distance of the London Marathon in her parents' back garden in Co Armagh to raise money for the NHS.

Natalie Bowbanks, from Tandragee, has already smashed her £1,000 fundraising target as she aims to run 2,096 laps of the garden on April 26.

No stranger to marathons, the practice manager at My Dentist in Portadown is a pacer at the Belfast City Marathon and has competed in 64 events worldwide, but this will be her first in Tandragee.

Natalie has run marathons in New York, Paris, Berlin, Lanzarote and Dublin, as well as completing the Belfast City Marathon for the past 10 years.

The disappointment after the cancellation of the London and Belfast events because of coronavirus inspired the 38-year-old to help out the NHS.

So far, Natalie has raised more than £1,200 and is thinking of increasing her target to £2,000.

"I knew when London was cancelled I would probably cover the distance anyway, but I didn't think of the back garden at that stage," she explained.

"Obviously, there were going to be certain restrictions, so I kind of just pinched the idea from other people that I had seen all over the world who I would follow on social media.

"I just thought that I would follow suit.

"I don't specifically know where the money will go in the NHS, but I have a few friends that work as nurses and doctors.

"Hopefully the money can go to personal protective equipment or wherever it's needed."

Natalie set up her GoFundMe page on Friday evening and raised £500 within 24 hours.

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Natalie Bowbanks in training

Natalie Bowbanks in training

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Natalie Bowbanks in training

She said she was "over the moon" with the response so far and praised the people who have donated, some of whom are total strangers.

"It's just gone through the roof. I only started it on Friday and I have had strangers sponsor me and people who I have never met. It's just unbelievable," Natalie added.

"I work for a dental practice. Dentists in England who I have never met have sponsored me for quite large amounts.

"I think I will set another target. I suppose I'll have to. I'll maybe bump it up to £2,000 and see. It would be a shame not to maximise it and see how much more we could potentially get."

Natalie is using her parents' back garden because she doesn't have any outdoor space at her home.

She plans on bringing a little bit of London to Tandragee during her marathon effort.

"I recently moved out of there and my parents will still be able to spectate from a distance," she told this newspaper.

"I have a few wee quirky things planned and I'm hoping to have a few props put up to basically bring London to Tandragee.

"I have done a good few marathons, but I think this will definitely be my slowest."

If you would like to donate to Natalie's fundraising drive, visit the GoFundMe website and search for 'Not the London Marathon in my garden'.

Belfast Telegraph