Friends’ leg-power boosts charity funds

Friends Rachael Slater (left) and Michael Gray, after finishing the Manchester Marathon
Friends Rachael Slater (left) and Michael Gray, after finishing the Manchester Marathon
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A pair of friends ran their way to raising more than £1,500 for a cause close to both their hearts.

Michael Osinski-Gray and Rachael Slater recently took part in the Manchester marathon, in aid of Headway Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre. The charity provides support, information and social activities for local people affected by acquired brain injury.

It was the first marathon for Rachael, from Marton, but the 20th for Michael, who lives in Poulton. The duo finished the 26.2 miles in four hours and 45 minutes.

They decided to take on the fund-raising challenge over Christmas, after realising they both had a connection to the charity.

After Michael’s stepfather had an accident – in which he was knocked off his bike by a drunk-driver and sustained serious head injuries, he was helped by Headway with rehabilitation. They helped him relearn how to speak and other important life-skills.

And a close friend of Rachael received support from the charity, after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Michael said the run had been a great experience: “We were enjoying ourselves, not even thinking of how far we had to run. The atmosphere was amazing – people lined the streets to cheer the runners on, offering sweets and playing music.

“As we approached the finish line, we could see all our family and friends who had come down to see us finish, it was really emotional and I felt a real sense of pride, especially for helping my best friend get through her first marathon and for the great fund-raising we had done.

“Once the race had finished, we met Sam from Headway who let us know we had raised over £1,500, which will cover running costs for a whole year.

“I did say when I got to 20 marathons I would stop, but I feel now like I’m just getting started.”

Rachael said: “The communities in the Manchester area made the marathon really enjoyable, with various choirs, bands and entertainment along the way.

“Crossing the finishing line of the Manchester Marathon is a moment I will never forget.

“I was aiming to finish it within five hours, so I was elated when I found out we had run it in 4 hours, 45 minutes.

“Being an official ‘marathoner’ has given me a great sense of achievement, and shown anything is possible, as I only started running two years ago.”

Samantha Sweeney, from Headway Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, said: “On behalf of Headway Blackpool, we would like to thank Rachael and Michael for their support and we are very grateful for the fantastic amount they raised. That £1,500 will pay for room hire and refreshment for 12 months.

“Headway would like to say thank you for training hard and running those miles – it was a pleasure to see them cross the finish line.”