In a city where everyone desperately tries to avoid eye contact even while you’re rubbing noses on the tube, running is like joining a secret sub-community of friendly folk: they swap tips and lend out safety pins at races, smile and nod when they pass in the street. And they share inspiring stories, none of which has moved me recently quite so much as Daphne Hathaway’s.
Daphne’s motto is, ‘While I’m still alive, I want to live.’ She took up running in her 60s, as an alternative to ‘draping myself in a shawl and rotting in the corner,’ and six marathons later, she still ran to deal with the stress of caring for her husband and father, both of whom suffer from Alzheimer’s. So when she was told she herself was terminally ill, she says the hardest thing wasn’t facing up to her mortality, but accepting the doctor’s advice to stop running.
It’s impossible to know how you’d react in that situation, but I think few of us would be as positive and active as Daphne is: she’s going to honour her place in the London Marathon, running or not. If she has to, she says she’ll walk every step of the 26 miles, with a sign on her back politely asking other runners to try not to bump into her.
I'll be looking out for her - good luck Daphne.
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