Blackpool Paralympian Shelly Woods takes on ultimate marathon challenge
Shelly Woods is gearing up for the challenge of a third big-city marathon in successive weeks, with another to follow next month.
Blackpool’s triple Paralypic medallist finished sixth in the Berlin and London Marathons on successive Sundays and contests the Boston Marathon for the third time next Monday.
And with the New York Marathon to follow early next month, it’s as gruelling a schedule as Woods, now 35, has endured throughout her wheelchair racing career.
But Shelly is determined to put all her training to good use after the disappointment of missing out on the Tokyo Paralympics.
Lytham-based Woods told The Gazette: “Yes, I’m really busy and flying all over the place at the moment. We fly out to Boston later in the week and I’m really pleased with where I am at present.
“Berlin was my best marathon time for 10 years (1hr, 42mins, 36secs). London wasn’t as fast (1: 50.11) but I was pleased with how I raced. Now we’ll see if I can finish a bit higher than sixth in America.
“It is crazy that after all that time without races because of the pandemic there are now so many bunched together.
“Three marathons in three weeks did sound like a good idea. I am feeling a bit tired but I’m not putting any pressure on myself and we’ll see where it takes me.”
Having won two medals on the track at the Beijing Paralympics and silver in the marathon in London four years later, Woods would have loved to represent GB at a third Games this summer.
She explained: “I did the qualifying times for Tokyo but there was an issue with the paperwork and they wouldn’t take my times.
“It’s a shame, I was disappointed and I would have gone if I’d been given the chance.
“But some paperwork let me down and it was beyond my control.”
Woods’ return to the elite level is nonetheless remarkable, having spent three years away from the sport to raise son Leo.
After a successful comeback in 2019, the former British number one was gaining momentum only for the pandemic to stop her in her tracks.
And dedicating the necessary time to training is more difficult these days as a working mother.
“Yes, I do work,” she adds. “I do one-to-one personal training and I work in Blackpool schools. And being a mum is enough of a job too!”
Woods enjoys the full support not only of her many fans around the Fylde coast but also of her fellow Paralympians.
Track star Hannah Cockroft, who took her tally of Paralympic golds to seven with a double in Japan, started Sunday’s wheelchair races in London and praised the inspirational Woods.
Shelly said: “I have trained with Hannah and it was nice of her to say what she did. But I’m just going to enjoy the races and see what happens. It’s good to be back.”
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