A CHARITY fundraiser has completed her mammoth challenge of running a marathon a week for an entire year.

Sarah Matthews, from Latchford, set herself the goal of running 52 marathons in 52 weeks all around the world in aid of Warrington Disability Partnership.

Kicking off her challenge in Lanzarote in December last year, the 39-year’s final race came on Sunday, December 1, when she completed the Saxon Shore Seaside Series in Kent – which saw her run 10 marathons in a gruelling 10 days.

Warrington Guardian:

Sarah after completing her first run of the challenge in Lanzarote

Her incredible achievement comes in spite of a debilitating illness which can cause Sarah’s whole body to freeze unexpectedly, leaving her without the ability to speak or feed herself.

Sarah said: “In the second half of some races, I’ve really struggled from not being able to see or even talk.

“As my disability is not a visible one, although the organisers were aware other runners were not.

“In Berlin, I was put at the front as there was not a particular starting point for disabled runners and because other runners were not aware of this I found I was caught up and having my waist pulled and being bumped into by the competitive runners.

“This was the point I felt I had to admit I am disabled and have that label.

“I began to run with a sign on my t-shirt saying ‘disabled runner’, and this helped me massively as people were more aware.

Warrington Guardian:

“In Chicago, although it was such a big race, it felt like a tight community.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion that, because the supporters and runners could see my name and were aware of my disability, I received so much support and cheers with people chanting my name as I ran by – other runners were coming towards me and congratulating me.

“That is one that really stood out, and having the label felt worth it.”

Sarah previously challenged herself to run 1,000 miles during 2016, but ended up smashing her target – eventually completing a total of 1,224 miles during the year.

She originally took up running after being taken ill in 2011 as racing offered her a ‘lifeline’ and ‘encouraged her to make the most of her good days’.

Her latest achievement included 39 marathons and 13 ultra-marathons.

Sarah added: “I want to live life with no regrets and know I’ve achieved everything I wanted if it turns out I can’t tomorrow because of my health.

“I am mentally stronger now because of running, I feel like I’m at my optimum and I don’t care if I am sore or have a cold – I really want to make the most of every good day I have.”

Sarah will now be a VIP runner at Warrington Disability Partnerships’ Santa Dash at Walton Garden on Sunday, December 15.

To donate click here, or to book your place at the Santa Dash click here.