MOST of us would quake in our running shoes at the thought of tackling a marathon.
But Vicky Willan is going more than the extra mile for charity by running 42 marathons in just seven weeks.
On her 42nd birthday, inspired by her work as a dietician for those suffering with mental health problems, she set herself the challenge of covering roughly 1,100 miles in less than two months and although she admits it has been a massive challenge she is grateful for the support she has won.
Vicky hopes her mission will raise awareness of mental health and teach people that improving your diet and doing a little exercise can really help those who are suffering.
Yesterday, her route took her through Wrexham where she met up with her family in the area.
She said: “I hope my challenge helps people and raises the profile of mental health in a more positive and kind way.
“In particular I want to raise awareness that eating well and doing some physical activity can help improve emotion and well being.”
The mum of three set off from Tongue, on the north coast of Scotland on August 20 and has snaked her way down through Scotland, England and Wales before planning to end her mammoth challenge on October 10 in Poole, Dorset, where she works for the county’s NHS healthcare trust.
“Things are going well and I’ve carefully planned enough rest time but I’ve always got at the back of my mind that I really want to get to Poole by October 10 because it’s World Mental Health Day.”
Vicky, who found out just before setting off that she had been shortlisted to carry the Olympic torch, is following a very specific route, stopping off at places with sentimental value in a bid to make it a more personal experience, win support and boost her morale along the way.
Her route through Wales took in the nation’s highest village Bwlychgwyn and she enjoyed an overnight stay at the home of Barry and Sian Cooke, her aunty and uncle, in Trewelyn Close, Llay.
She said: “It’s been great to run through this area because I spent so much time here as a kid.”
In a similar challenge to Eddie Izzard’s, who ran 43 marathons in 51 days, Vicky has been facing aching bones and severely blistered feet, all without the fanfare and mass public support enjoyed by the celebrity.
But she said her cause keeps her going .“Before I started I was anxious that I wouldn’t be able to do it but the further I get and the more support I win the more confident I am.
“I’d love it if the people of Wrexham got behind this great cause by “liking” my Facebook page.”
All money raised will be donated to Mental Health Foundation Trust which researches the effects of nutrition and exercise on the brain and mental health. To support her, visit www.gbtop2bottomchallenge.com and click on the Facebook link.
See full story in the Leader