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Snitterfield woman inspired by dad for marathon challenge

Bridget Richards with friend Emma Anderson and the special metal hearts from the 1-7-2 Challenge.
Bridget Richards with friend Emma Anderson and the special metal hearts from the 1-7-2 Challenge.

MEMORIES of her late father will give Bridget Richards all the motivation she needs for a personal challenge to run and walk almost 200 miles in a week.

In just two months’ time, the 52-year-old will run the 26.2-mile London Marathon, before embarking on a 146-mile walk in seven stages along the Shakespeare Way.

“I know last year when I ran the marathon there was a certain point where I was thinking of my dad,” she told the Herald. “He just came into my head, and there was no way I was not going to finish.”

Her father, Mike Matthews, called Wellesbourne home at the time of his death in January 2014.

“Four years ago he died from dementia,” Bridget added.

“He was a super sportsman, participating at a good level in many sports including rugby, tennis (playing at junior Wimbledon) but in particular pole vaulting where he excelled being Lancashire champion. He used to motivate me for my running.”

Bridget’s long-time close friend, Emma Anderson, helped come up with the 1-7-2 Challenge concept, which stems from one marathon, seven walks and two charities. The 26.2-mile marathon put together with the 146-mile Shakespeare Way walk also equals 172 miles similar to the titled challenge.

Emma said: “We have a real bond. We’ve been through a lot together. I think it’s absolutely amazing what she’s doing.”

Training for the challenge has involved regular running, and in December Bridget completed a 50-mile walk called the Tour de Trigs. Last year she cycled from Stratford to London and then ran the London Marathon on the following Sunday. She also ran the Paris Marathon in 2016.

Bridget has chosen the Alzheimer’s Society and Shakespeare Hospice as the two charities to benefit from the donations brought in from the 1-7-2 Challenge. She chose the Alzheimer’s Society charity in memory of her father.

“It wasn’t easy for our family when the first signs of dementia came on and he became less active both in body and mind,” said Bridget.

“In April 2013, he had a fall and the blow to the head accelerated the dementia. He never came home, and he didn’t know who we were. After nine difficult months he passed away in January 2014.”

She chose Shakespeare Hospice as it’s a charity close to her home in Snitterfield, and she received bereavement counselling there when her husband, Glenn, died in 2010.

She will start the first stage of the walks from the Globe Theatre in London, heading out onto the Shakespeare Way on Sunday, 22nd April, after she finishes the London Marathon. And she will finish the 146-mile walk at the RSC Theatre in Stratford the following Saturday, 28th April.

Bridget added: “I do enjoy fundraising. I’ve done something in memory of my husband so I thought I’d do something in memory of dad this time, and these charities are close to my heart.”

She has been offered the use of a mobile home at a reduced rate for the seven walks. Driven by her brother, Tim Matthews, it will be used as a support vehicle and somewhere to sleep overnight.

Her two sons, Thierry, aged 28 and Tobias, 27, will also join her for the final stage of the walk.

In exchange for a donation, sponsors will get a small metal heart to be placed around a tree by the RSC. Bridget is targeting 172 hearts with a minimum requested donation of £10.

Allan Lamb, who is making the hearts, will also be walking the 146-miles with her and Emma, who also designed the logo for the 1-7-2 Challenge, will be walking the last two stages (40 miles).

Bridget is also encouraging other local people to join them in the last stage of the walk on the Saturday, which is a 17-mile stretch from Shipston to Stratford.

To get involved see: www.1-7-2challenge.com, https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/172Challenge and https://www.facebook.com/1-7-2-Challenge.

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