Southwold resident Cathy Ryan takes on marathon charity challenge
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
For many people, running a marathon is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.
But for Cathy Ryan, completing one gruelling 26.2-mile run was just part one of a triple marathon charity challenge.
The 59-year-old, who has been community matron for Sole Bay Health Centre for more than 10 years, said: 'I do a charity challenge every year. In 2016 I walked coast to coast across Britain. In 2015 I ran the London Marathon and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.
'Basically I wanted to do something different this year because I am going to be 60 in August.
'I thought to go over 60 miles I had to do three marathons, and I could travel over 6,000 miles by doing three marathons in a race time under six hours, on three different continents, raising £600 each for six charities- making six the magic number.'
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The prolific charity fund-raiser's toughest challenge to date will see her run the London Marathon in April and the Cape Town Marathon in September, following on from her recent success in completing San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in December 2016.
Ms Ryan's latest challenge will raise funds for breast cancer charities, the Sole Bay Care Fund, the SMA Trust and Rotary International - particularly raising funds for Phumza charity to educate African orphans and Give a Child a Camera, as well as Canine Partners.
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During training she is joined by a very special pacer - her eight-year-old Labrador Bess, who will also be raising funds for charity.
Ms Ryan explained: 'Bess is a great pacer but it is difficult when she is in training mode, as she runs ahead of me and she gets confused when I want her to heel.
'Bess does the first five miles training with me then I drop her off at home and do the rest of training myself - she normally raises more funds than me!'
She added: 'After the London Marathon two years ago I said 'never again' but it was the best day of my life.
'After my sister, Terry Angermiller, was diagnosed with cancer in early 2016, I thought taking on these challenges would be the best way to help.
'I chose San Antonio as my sister lives on a ranch nearby but the weather in Texas is very unpredictable and you don't get much rain - even in the morning it can be 70 or 90 degrees.
'So I was thinking this is going to be really hard for me but, when I went down on race day, it was about 6.30am in the morning and there was a fantastic atmosphere.
'Despite getting up at 4am to get prepared, there was a real disco atmosphere with lots of rock 'n' roll music playing. When you get to the start line, the adrenaline kicks in and you begin to get hyped up.'
Ms Ryan crossed the San Antonio finishing line in five hours and 59 minutes - the same time she finished the London Marathon in 2015.
She said it 'felt fantastic to finish under the magic six hours time'.
Woodbridge-born Cathy Ryan is no stranger to overcoming challenges and adversity.
She became the first female member and president of the Rotary Club of Southwold and District, as well as being awarded the title of Queen's Nurse in 2016.
Of her charity challenges, she said: 'Friends and family think I am bonkers but they always do and they always worry about me. I am self-funding all the flights and I am not paying for accommodation so all funds raised will go to the charities. Running keeps me sane and eases stress while helping good causes and when people donate and support me, that's what pushes me through when the going gets tough.'
To donate to Ms Ryan's challenge, visit www.southwoldrotary.co.uk select 'donate online' and state in the comments box you wish to donate towards Ms Ryan's challenge specifying which charity you would like to receive your donation.
Have you got a Southwold story? Contact Southwold reporter Simon Ward on 01502 525832 or email email@example.com