When Tony Howarth told his wife Gill the best 60th birthday present from her would be to have her run alongside him in the London Marathon, he was astonished when she accepted the challenge.
The Lytham couple, who have been married for 33 years, will run their first marathon together in the capital on Sunday in aid of Samaritans.
Tony has completed 24 marathons and did the Beyond the Ultimate Ice challenge – a 230km race lasting four and a half days in the Arctic in February.
But for Gill, who works for Beaverbrooks, taking part in the marathon means she’ll be running further than she thought possible.
She said: “It’s Tony’s crazy hobby as of seven years ago.
“Running does a lot for mental health and as well as being good for it, Tony raises money for Samaritans.
“I am most looking forward to finishing and a bottle of champagne to celebrate.
“My daughter Abi and her husband will be there on the day to cheer us on.
“Tony will be there supporting and cajoling me to carry on when the going gets tough.”
Tony, a former Samaritans volunteer, said: “I was so grateful for the help Samaritans gave me in my time of need it prompted me to volunteer as a listening volunteer with Samaritans.
“I genuinely felt I was helping people who felt at a crisis point in their lives.
“Now I no longer volunteer I raise money for the charity instead by taking up running challenges.
“Running the London marathon with Gill will be an amazing experience.
“We will be so honoured to wear the Samaritans shirt on the big day.”
Gill and Tony will join 72 runners who will be taking on the 26.2 mile race to support Samaritans.
Emma Sutehall, senior events fundraiser at Samaritans, said: “Good luck to Tony and Gill and all our runners that are pounding through the streets in preparation for the big day.
“We hope Tony and Gill makes it through their impressive marathon challenge without too many bumps and blisters – it’s a huge feat and we’re with them all the way.”
To support the couple, search Gillian Howarth at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com