Two young Hertfordshire farmers are swapping wellies for running shoes when they tackle the London Marathon.
Claire Daw, 20, and boyfriend Nigel Stanley, 25, hope to raise hundreds of pounds for two good causes – Mind and RABI – when they take part in the marathon on Sunday 24 April.
It will be the first marathon they have run and also the first time they have applied for the London Marathon, which is heavily over-subscribed every year.
Nigel works in his family’s contracting business, Dodson Agricultural Contractors, and Claire works with parents Barry and Jenny on their dairy farm at Hertford Heath. She runs a diversification selling Dawlicious Ice Cream and, since November, raw milk direct from the farm.
“We’re not runners – I play a lot of netball and Nigel is a keen cyclist - but running the marathon is a challenge I wanted to do once in my life. I applied but didn’t know Nigel had applied as well. When I looked over my shoulder there he was finishing his application,” said Claire.
“We were both really fortunate to get accepted with our first application and, after that, there was no turning back really.
“We both thought we would help out a charity as well and I’ve chosen Mind. There are particular pressures on farming at the moment and we’re seeing more farmers suffering from mental health problems. I wanted to support something that means a lot to me.”
Nigel said: “Farming means so much to me. My whole family is involved with it but there are so many farms that are struggling at the moment. I wanted to support a charity where it will make a difference and that’s why I’ve chosen RABI. They’ve been really helpful and will be publicising the run on social media ahead of the marathon.
“Training has been difficult at times, especially with the long hours you have to work within farming. We had a couple of months of running twice a week in the pitch black, just with head torches on, but it’s helped to have Claire taking part as well. I would struggle to have the motivation to run for more than two hours on my own.”
Claire said: “We’re getting great support from the farming community and friends and family. I’ve even got farming friends coming down from Scotland to watch us on the day. They’ve never seen the London Marathon and they are keen to be there.”