Marathon runner Fiona broke vow in mother’s memory

A social worker from Peebles broke her vow to never run a marathon again as she took part in the recent London Marathon in memory of her mum.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 11:51 am
Fiona receives her medal after finishing in London

Fiona Kennedy, who is 40, had called it a day in May 2019, when she ran the Edinburgh Marathon for Sarcoma UK, as her mother had just marked 10 years of treatment for the rare soft tissue cancer.

She said: “I had never attempted a 5K in the past, let alone marathon training, but I felt that this was an opportunity to raise money and awareness for a charity that had supported mum throughout her treatment.

"Together, we raised more than £5,000 for Sarcoma UK, but on the day of the marathon, the weather was truly awful, and despite friends and family being at the finish line, I swore I wouldn’t run again.

Fiona, right, and her cousin Lucy Balharrie at the finish.

"However, that September, at the age of 67, my beautiful mum passed away.

“Her ethos meant that she took the years of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and drug trials in her stride. She continued to travel, play an active part in her grandchildren’s lives and was a much-loved wife, mum, sister, and aunt.

“On the eve of her celebration of life ceremony, my uncle, aunt, and cousins began to speak about running in mum’s memory.

"Not to be outdone or left out, I promptly signed up to run for Sarcoma UK at the London Marathon 2020.”

Then the pandemic hit and the event was postponed, only to return in force earlier this month, but by then Fiona was well prepared.

She said: “I continued to train throughout the lockdowns, and again when it was announced that the Marathon would be held in person or in October 2021.  I never envisaged marathon training three times for one event.      

“Crossing the finish line (in four hours and 11 minutes) was a huge sense of relief. My cousin Lucy and I crossed it together hand in hand, and promptly burst into tears.

"The sense of achievement was felt immediately, not least because the staff, marshals and volunteers were amazing in their support and care.

"The congratulations came from runners, supports and strangers.

"Of course, Mum wasn’t at the finish line in London, but I’m sure she would have been amazed and proud in equal measures."

Fiona, who says she has been out running locally since then, proudly wearing her finishers’ t-shirt.

And for this latest effort, she has raised to date £7,281.

She said: “In terms of fundraising - I will have a lifelong affiliation with Sarcoma UK.

"Mum wanted to do more in terms of contributing to research, raising awareness and raising funds, and this is a duty I have inherited. I will continue to look for ways to support the charity I have such fondness for.”

Fiona has urged others to follow in her footsteps, quite literally.

She said: “I am proof that anyone can run.

"I went from couch to marathon in 20 weeks. I think after running two marathons, I can confidently call myself a runner! The London Marathon is more than race day … the payoff will come when the roar from the crowds carries you down the Mall. You are part of a bigger picture, one where the focus is on achievement, overcoming doubts and running because you are making a difference. A difference to those who will need support, care and treatment in the future.”