“I think mum would be amazingly proud”.
Katie Phillips knows a thing or two about determination.
The 35-year-old took on – and completed – an epic running challenge of taking part in 12 marathons in 12 months, in aid of Blackpool-based breast cancer support charity, Hug In A Bag.
She took on her mammoth fundraising feat after her mum, Julia Phillips, from Blackpool, was diagnosed with breast cancer last August.
Sadly, just after Katie had finished her eighth marathon, in June, her mum – who was 57 – lost her battle with the disease.
It took everything Katie – who lives in Bradford but grew up on the Fylde coast – had, to complete the next four marathons, but she was determined to finish her challenge for her mum’s memory and for the charity.
At the halfway point in the challenge, Katie ran the Blackpool Marathon, in April, with her sisters also running the route in a relay.
Her mum and dad were waiting at the finish line to greet them.
Katie, whose full name is Katherine, said the whole challenge had been tough, but she was pleased to have completed it.
She said: “It really was a big challenge – not just physically, because it was tough on my body, but also because of what my mum was going through at the same time – with her illness and treatment.
“The Blackpool marathon was a very difficult marathon, I had done another one the week before, so my body hadn’t recovered.
“I had my mum and dad there at the finish line and my sisters too supporting me by running as well, and the ladies from Hug In A Bag were there.
“That really got me through and it was nice from that point of view, it was an emotional one.
“The next marathon Edinburgh was especially tough, as when I got up to Edinburgh, my mum was taken into A&E. Initially, we thought she had suffered a stroke, but it was the cancer developing further.
“So that was a really challenging marathon.
“I felt I was in the wrong part of the country, I ran with lack of sleep because I was worrying and came straight back afterwards to see my mum.
“Liverpool was another tough one.
“Mum was admitted to hospital to have radiotherapy the week following the Liverpool Marathon, but unfortunately, we lost our mum to breast cancer on June 17.
“The next marathon was a few weeks after in Wales and that was the hardest one. At that point, I kind of wanted to stop.
“I felt my body wasn’t ready, I hadn’t run since the Liverpool Marathon and it was difficult being the first marathon after losing my mum.
“But I felt strong during the run, and my boyfriend John McIlquham ran the last 200m to give me support.
“Getting over that finish line was the turning point really.
“That marathon was definitely for my mum.
“It was when I said to myself I’m going to keep going.”
After two marathons in Dorset, on one weekend in August, Katie’s final marathon was on October 11, in York, when her dad surprised her by coming to meet her at the finish line.
Katie said: “Looking back, it was a real challenge, it definitely took its toll on my body.
“But I wanted to set myself a difficult and meaningful challenge, while raising money and awareness for Hug In A Bag.
“The Hug In A Bag bags are distributed to breast cancer patients by the breast care nurses, who supported my mum on the day of her diagnosis, to offer comfort and support she was not alone. I know from talking to mum she was grateful for what they did.”
Katie has raised £3,500, but is determined to reach her goal of £5,000.
“It’s been amazing for the charity itself.
“It’s had affects I never expected, such as people getting in touch saying I have inspired them to start running.
“And other people have sent me messages to say their mother, sister or family member is in the same situation and going through what my mum went through – asking for advice.
“I think mum would be amazingly proud, I know all my family are.
“I just felt I was little old me doing what I could to give something back.
“I’m really grateful for all the support I’ve had.”
Katie will be presenting the total she has raised to the charity at the Hug In A Bag ball on Saturday, when she will also be auctioning off some of her running memorabilia.