An 37-year-old islander, who will be tackling her first marathon in October in memory of two of her “dearest friends”, has already tripled her initial fundraising target of £1,000.
Samantha North (pictured top, left) has generated more than £3,000 for Friends of Jersey Oncology (FOJO), which provides care packs, wig vouchers, exercise and nutrition programmes, as well as help with travel expenses to islanders going through cancer treatment and their families.
Samantha, who already runs up to three times a week and has previously ran four half marathons in the past as well as several 10Kssuccessfully registered for the London Marathon last year during lockdown, after three previous attempts to get a spot.
Pictured: Samantha (right) and her regular running partner, Triona, who also got a spot for the marathon.
“I have run for many years,” she said. “With a break around children, it’s always been a great way for me to see the places where I have lived. There are so many amazing places you find when you run or walk - some I didn’t even know existed.
“I found myself running more during lockdown as it was a good stress reliever and allowed me to explore the island more.
“The London Marathon is one of the bucket list runs for many runners and I wanted to try my luck with the ballot and I got a place!”
Initially, Samantha said she thought about declining the place but she eventually decided to keep it.
She said that two of her dearest friends – Craig, whom she met at the age of four, and Saffy, whom she met at Jersey College for Girls at the age of 11, were fighting their own battles and the marathon was her “chance to do something good and for them”.
Sadly, Craig passed away in December 2020 and Saffy in May 2021. Before she died, Samantha asked her to choose a charity and she selected FOJO.
“They helped her during her treatment, and she wanted the donations to go to a smaller charity,” Samantha explained.
“Craig was also fortunate to receive great care by the oncology department and I know he would be in support of the donation to FOJO."
Pictured: FOJO provide care packs to all patients.
“The loss of two friends has made me re-evaluate my reasons for running," Samantha added. "As a first-time marathon runner, I’m not going to have a time in mind to complete, I am grateful to be able to run. It might take me six hours and that’s ok.”
Samantha said seeing the donations pile up on her fundraising page had made her feel “overwhelmed and even more determined”.
“One day I didn’t want to run and was moping around the house when my phone pinged ‘you have received a donation’,” she said. “When I opened it, I had received £260 and it was a sign to get my shoes on and run, and I did. The donations literally push me along every mile.”
Over the past few weeks, Samantha has been training with her regular running partner, Triona, who luckily also gained a ballot place for the marathon. Although she has been “plagued” with injuries, she hasn’t stopped but simply says she has learned to “take a step back when she needs to”.
“I have found the training challenging, being the mum of two young girls, it’s hard to fit in training around family life,” she said. “I have taken annual leave to get my long runs in so it doesn’t impact my weekends too much. I have been trying to do three runs a week of different distances, however with the injuries I have to be guided by my body and listen to it.”
Filled with “anticipation and nerves”, Samantha is looking forward to the big day on Sunday 3 October 2021.
“Given I am raising money for FOJO, I feel overwhelmed by the donations people have given me and I just hope I can run the marathon and complete it for the charity,” she said.
“I’ve got a great support network around me and my husband, children, best friend and in laws will be there on the day to cheer me on. I also have friends in London who will keep me fuelled with jelly babies on route.
“As I cross the finish line I’m going to be filled with pride, exhaustion and sadness. Sadness that my friends won’t be there to see me, something Saffy said she wanted to do.”
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