Sisters on the run for hugs

Charity running sisters, from left, Hilary, Katie, Rosina and Maria
Charity running sisters, from left, Hilary, Katie, Rosina and Maria
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When Katie Phillips runs the Blackpool Marathon on April 26, it will be her sixth marathon.

Her sixth marathon in six months.

This will put her precisely halfway through her epic challenge, for a good cause very close to her heart.

She will be joined in the run with three of her sisters, who will complete the course in a relay.

It’s all part of Katie’s challenge to run 12 marathons in 12 months in aid of Blackpool Hug In A Bag.

Katie – whose full name is Katherine – decided to take on her epic fund-raising feat after her mum, who lives in Blackpool, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.

Katie, 35, said: “My mum received the news on my little sister’s 18th birthday. It naturally came as a huge shock, but as a family we remained hopeful for a positive outcome.

“Sadly, weeks later we were told the cancer had spread, but the specialists are doing all they can to give my mum the best quality of life.

“At the time, she was given one of the special Hug In A Bag gifts they give to everyone diagnosed with breast cancer at Victoria Hospital. I thought it was a wonderful thing to do and such a great idea.

“I tend to deal with any problems by going for a run, so I decided while running the Blackpool Illuminations Half Marathon at the end of August, I wanted to set myself a difficult and meaningful personal challenge.

“And I wanted to raise money for Hug In A Bag.

“My sisters – Hilary, Rosina and Maria – will be joining me on the Blackpool Marathon and will be doing it between then.

“It’s fantastic they will be joining me, and I’m really proud of them, as they’re not runners.”

Katie, who lives in Bradford, but grew up on the Fylde coast with the rest of her family, had already run the Chester Marathon, Snowdonia Marathon, White Rose Ultra Marathon (a 30-mile off-road run), Northumberland Coastal Trail Marathon and this weekend will be doing the Manchester Marathon.

After Blackpool, she will be running in Edinburgh in May, Liverpool in June, Wales in July, two back-to-back Bad Cow Marathons in two days in August and the York Marathon in October.

She has set herself a £5,000 target – “to provide 100 Hugs to repay the one they gave my mum” – and has also been baking cakes to help her fund-raising efforts.

She said: “Some people think it’s a bit crazy doing this challenge, but I enjoy running and it’s for such a good cause.

“I think my mum has drawn strength from me doing this and I definitely draw it, and inspiration, from her.

“I’m usually a private person so setting up a webpage and album has felt a bit strange, but I’ve even had people I don’t know approach me, or send me messages to say they’re in a similar situation, or they have been, and congratulate me for my challenge – which is really nice.

“I hope to raise awareness of the Hug In A Bag charity too – and breast cancer in general.

“The charity is small and depends on charitable fund-raising and the support of the public to be able to do its work.”

Visiting or follow Katie’s progress on Twitter @RunningFairy