Pupils cheer on Horsham St Faith’s Marathon Mandy

To run the London Marathon is impressive enough - but to run to the starting line first, all the way from Norfolk, is a remarkable achievement.

To the children at the village primary school where she works she is known simply as Marathon Mandy. For mother-of-two Mandy Foyster, of Abbey Road, Horsham St Faith, near Norwich will not only be tackling the London Marathon on April 17, she is planning to get to the start line by running the 140 miles to the capital from her home village.

What first took shape in her head as a 'magical dream' three years ago will become a reality on Monday April 11 when she sets off from the Manor Road school where she works as a clerical assistant on the first 30-mile leg to South Lopham on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

A 16 mile run on the Tuesday to Stowmarket will be followed by a 33 mile run to Earls Colne, Essex, on the Wednesday, a 25 miles run to Chelmsford on the Thursday and a 38 mile run to Westminster Bridge in central London on the Friday.

A day off on the Saturday - giving her a chance to register for the race - will be followed by the marathon on the Sunday.

'On my previous 11 London Marathons I have usually taken about 3hr 30min, but I will be much slower this year - I'll just be happy to finish. Afterwards, I'm coming home by train or bus,' she said.

Mandy, 44, who has started a school running club attended by 10 of the 97 pupils, hopes to raise �2,000 in sponsorship for both the school and the RNLI.

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'As a mum if I hear of a child going missing at sea I am aware of the danger of water and so grateful we have an organisation like the RNLI: they are so incredibly brave,' she said.

Although Mandy has successfully completed 14 marathons - three at Bungay - she admitted her latest challenge was 'completely into the unknown' and was approaching it with a mix of nervousness and excitement.

'I feel I have got to prove it is possible so I have been practising by running 25 miles one day and then doing 30 the next day,' she said.

Thursday was a day off from school but there was no time for Mandy to put her feet up and watch daytime television.

'I offered to deliver a parcel to a school in Cromer and ran the 40 miles there and back,' she said.

After an ice bath - 'fantastic for helping muscle recovery' - it was time to press on with motherly duties, shopping and driving her elder son son Jamie, 16, to his squash club.

She said while her husband Steve, 54, did not run he had an inkling of what lay in store as he cycled to London last year in his own charity challenge.

Mandy, who will be staying in people's homes along the route, will run with a small rucksack containing her essential provisions - jam sandwiches and Rowntrees fruit pastilles.

'It's not the recommended running diet but I find it works for me,' she said.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Mandy is invited to ring her on 01603-893474.

Are you running the marathon for a special reason? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk.