It may have been three years late but running the London Marathon proved to be worth the wait for Waringstown woman Heather Deans.
Heather completed the 26.2 mile course on Sunday in five hours, 32 minutes, raising much-needed funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK, in memory of her late mum.
Also named Heather, she passed away just six weeks ago, aged 87, having been diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s in February 2022.
Heather, aged 52, was originally meant to take part in the marathon in 2020 but it was deferred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the time, she ran the marathon ‘virtually’ around Craigavon Lakes instead, raising £2,000 for Cancer Fund for Children.
She chose the charity as she was only 12 years old when her dad passed away with cancer in 1983.
“Back then, young people like me had nowhere to go or anyone to talk too. Today, thankfully they do and Cancer Fund for Children do an amazing job both for young people and children who unfortunately find themselves in this awful situation,” she said.
This time around, her mum’s diagnosis was the spur to choose the Alzheimer’s charity and the amount raised from the marathon to date stands at £1,700.
Although Heather completed the run slightly slower than she would have liked, it is still an achievement of which she is justifiably proud.
“It was wonderful. It more than lived up to my expectations. I was looking for five hours 15 mins but my legs just went on fire at about 13 to 16 miles so I just took my time and finished it,” she said.
Her brother Robert and wife Penny had travelled up from Dorset to cheer her on and were there when she crossed the finishing line.
Heather, who works for Starbucks in Rushmere Shopping Centre, has been running for 10 years, having started with Kernan Running Club, doing the Couch to 5K.
“It’s a love hate relationship for me and running,” she laughed. “I enjoy it when it’s over.
“It’s the mental health benefits that make me keep doing it and the sense of achievement, knowing you can do something and everyone is out for the same reason.
“The hard part is the 16 weeks training for the marathon, when you’re trying to work things around your runs.”
Heather, who has also taken part in half-marathons, is already thinking about next year’s London Marathon but hasn’t made a final decision yet.
“I had my finger hovering over the button to register, but I haven’t done it yet,” she said.
Heather has thanked everyone who donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK, including the new owners of Rushmere.
She also wants to thank husband and wife Eamon and Marina McGurran, from Team Runwell in Craigavon, who have supported her down the years.
“I am not even part of the group but they have trained with me for both the marathons,” she said.
“They have come out with me in all weathers, walked with me when I wanted to walk, stopped with me when I wanted to stop, helping me and believing in me.”